A normal vaginal delivery is the birth of a baby through the vagina when the pregnant woman goes into spontaneous labor at term i.e. between 37-42 weeks of gestation. Due date is calculated from the LMP or if periods are irregular, USG dating is done. It happens on its own without any help of drugs.
Signs of labor:
The release of mucus plug. You may feel sticky, bloody discharge per vaginum
Rupture of membranes. Bag of water ruptures causing gush of watery discharge
Contractions- Strong pain felt at regular intervals in abdomen or back radiating to thighs with hardening of the uterus. Contractions push the baby in the birth canal.
Length of labour varies in women. First-time mothers have 12-24 hours of labour while later this may be reduced to 6-8 hours.
Stages of labour :
Three stages are there.
Stage 1- Onset of labour to full dilatation of cervix up to 10 cms.
Early(latent phase)- Cervical dilatation from 0 to 3-4 cms. It lasts for 6-10 hrs in primigravida and shorter in multigravida. Contractions will be mild and irregular coming 10-30 minutes apart lasting 30-45 seconds. You can stay at home during this time and do relaxing activities like listening to music, watching TV, taking a warm bath or walk around.
Active phase- from 4 cms to full dilatation 10 cms. Labour is more intense lasting 3-6 hours. Contractions are more intense and frequent 3-5 minutes apart. Pain occurs in abdomen, back, and thighs and is difficult to bear. Epidural is given at this stage. You should empty your bladder, drink fluids, breathe and relax. Sensation to bear down may occur, but do not bear down till your doctor tells you to do so as pushing through undilated cervix is harmful.
Stage 2- Full dilatation to the delivery of the baby. Lasts for half to two hours. Contractions are very strong and close together, urge to bear down is strong. Nausea, vomiting, breathlessness, and fatigue occurs. Intense pain in vagina and perineum occurs when baby’s head comes out. You have to breathe and keep pushing hard.
Stage 3- Birth of placenta. From few minutes to half hour. Doctor may ask you to cough or push a little for the birth of placenta and membranes. Fatigue is full blown and you may relax now.
Prepare for natural birth throughout your pregnancy. Each day of pregnancy in preparation for birth. Take care of yourself. You need a very strong body of labour. It’s just like preparation for a marathon. Without preparation, if you suddenly go for the marathon, you are sure to lose. In a similar fashion you cannot expect normal delivery without preparation. A uterus is a very strong muscle and needs to be well nourished for the stamina and pushing.
Nutrition is very important
Physical preparedness- Exercise is not only for weight control, it is for physical and mental strength. Walk, yoga, kegel’s, squats need to be done on each single day. Control your breath, flexibility, relaxation etc.
Birthing classes- They give you education and motivation for the intense labour you are about to experience.
Choose the right doctor and hospital. You have to make a wise decision on your birthing options. Your doctor should be able to understand your needs.
Don’t gain too much weight. Labour is smooth and successful for women who gain correct and recommended amount of weight.
Spouse support is very important
Mental strength also helps you, not only physical.
Eat during labour. Something that gives you energy and keeps you motivated. Fluid intake is mandatory. Keep having fruit slices, yogurt, dry toast, eggs, juice, tea, biscuit, coconut water etc
The art of normal delivery is disappearing each day due to various reasons but still with all the information you can experience it in expert hands. You, your family, your doctor, hospital, physical and mental strength, baby characteristics all play a role to facilitate a normal delivery. So make your options clear and work towards the same nevertheless if due to some unavoidable reason you land up in a operative delivery you should not feel sad as nowadays both routes are safe and our main aim is a healthy mother and baby.