A vaginal delivery is the birth of offspring (babies in humans) in mammals through the vagina. It is the natural method of birth for all mammals.
What are the stages of normal vaginal delivery?
1. Labour and effacement of the cervix
This is the first stage of the normal delivery process and of labour. For the baby to be born, the cervix needs to become malleable, soften and stretch so that the baby can be delivered.
2. Pushing & birth of the baby
Once the cervix completely widens or dilates the second stage of labour begins. The contractions at this stage continue to be strong, though they often come farther apart. The mother may feel highly irritated at this stage and may alternate between wanting to be touched/soothed or being left alone. She will be highly fatigued and may also feel nauseous. The intensity at the end of the first stage of labour will continue in this pushing phase.
The mother may experience intense pain around the vagina and the surrounding pelvic areas as the baby’s head protrudes through the vaginal opening. It is at this stage that the attending doctor may decide to perform an episiotomy, i.e. an incision made in the area between the vagina and the rectum to widen the vaginal opening so that the baby can emerge smoothly if required. The mother may be asked to push gently or slowly as the rest of your baby’s head and body emerge, till the baby finally emerges into this world.
3. Delivering the placenta
After the birth of the baby, the contractions continue to push out the placenta, a process also known as the afterbirth. The delivery of the placenta can take from a few minutes to a half hour after the baby is born.
Most babies are ready to nurse a few minutes immediately after birth while others may take a little longer. Healthcare providers usually ask the mother to nurse the child as soon as possible after birth, provided the mother is willing to breastfeed.