Normal delivery is when a baby is delivered without the need for surgery. While a caesarean can be a painless delivery, several women opt for a vaginal birth. At times, a caesarean cannot be prevented due to complications during delivery. However, if you are aiming for a normal delivery, it is best to be aware of the stages.
First Stage of Normal Delivery: Dilation
A “show” is the release of a mucus plug that may be stringy and thick or tinted with blood. This could occur a week prior to your due date or on the day of labour. When your water breaks, it signifies your baby’s amniotic sac has broken. The first thing to do is to remember to be calm and head to your chosen hospital.
You have a lengthy, solid cervix before labour begins. The uterine muscles tighten during the first few hours of labour to shorten and soften the cervix so that it can dilate (open). This stage might last from 6 to 36 hours for first-time mothers. During this time, you may have contractions, which can vary in intensity. Some contractions can be moderate, much like the pain you feel during your periods. The contractions can become increasingly intense as labour progresses. Similarly, the first few contractions may be sporadic and brief, lasting 30 to 40 seconds. You are said to be in labour when the contractions last a minute or more and occur every five minutes. Don’t worry if you experience pain at this stage. Most women experience it during the first stage of a normal delivery.
Second Stage of Normal Delivery: The Baby
When the cervix is fully dilated (open) and the baby’s head descends into the vagina, the second stage of labour begins. The baby is now in the birth canal. You’ll need to be focused, determined, and energetic to push the baby through the birth canal at this point. Your baby’s birth could take 30 minutes to an hour or more. If you receive an epidural for a painless delivery, this second stage could be prolonged.
A small percentage of mothers need forceps or a ventose (vacuum extraction) to help them deliver.
Third Stage of Normal Delivery: Placenta
The placenta is delivered during the last stage of labour. There are two possible outcomes. The physiological third stage is waiting for your placenta to exit naturally, without any intervention. This could take up to an hour after the delivery of your baby. While you wait, you can hold your baby and even give the first breastfeed. An ecbolic may be injected into your leg to accelerate placental separation and prevent blood loss.
Most gynaecologists will aim for a normal delivery. This prevents you from going into surgery. However, thanks to medical advancements, surgery can ensure a much shorter and painless delivery. You will need to remain in hospital to recuperate. Whatever you choose, it’s important to know what to expect during delivery. A good place to begin is to consult an experienced gynaecologist.