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Vaginal Delivery


What do I need to know about vaginal delivery?

A vaginal delivery occurs when your baby is born through your vagina (birth canal).

How do I prepare for vaginal delivery?

  • During the first stage of labor, your uterus will contract to help your cervix dilate (open). Your contractions will soon occur more often and get stronger. Talk to your healthcare provider in advance about the different types of medicines you can receive for pain relief.
  • The fluid sac that surrounds your baby in the womb will break open. Your healthcare provider will break the sac if it does not break by itself. You may need medicine to induce (start) your labor. You may need to move in bed, stand, or walk to help your baby move into position for birth. The first stage ends when your cervix is dilated to 10.

What will happen during vaginal delivery?

  • During the second stage of labor, your cervix is dilated and you are ready to push during contractions. This will move your baby through your birth canal. You may be asked to lie on your back, have your feet up in stirrups, or squat. Healthcare providers may use forceps or suction to help deliver your baby. You may also need an episiotomy (incision) to make the vaginal opening larger. The second stage ends with the birth of your baby.
  • During the third stage, your healthcare provider will put clamps on the cord that connects your baby to the placenta. The cord is then cut. Your uterus continues to contract to push out the placenta. The third stage ends when the placenta is pushed out.

What will happen after vaginal delivery?

  • If you have an episiotomy or a tear that occurred during the birth, your healthcare provider will close it with stitches.
  • Healthcare providers will examine your baby. You may be able to hold your baby soon after he is born. Once healthcare providers have checked that you and your baby are okay, you may be taken to another room.
  • A healthcare provider may massage your abdomen several times to make your uterus firm. This can be uncomfortable. You may have abdominal pains for up to 3 days after you give birth because your uterus is still contracting. The contractions help release blood from inside your uterus so it shrinks back to its normal size. These contractions may be stronger and hurt more while you breastfeed your baby.
  • If you will breastfeed, ask healthcare providers to show you how to hold and breastfeed your baby. Ask how to care for your breasts, even if you are not breastfeeding.
  • Your healthcare provider may suggest you get out of bed to sit in a chair or walk. Activity can help prevent blood clots.
  • You may go home within 24 to 48 hours after the birth if you and your baby do not have any medical problems. If you need support at home, ask your healthcare provider about home visits by another healthcare provider. This healthcare provider can help you learn about breastfeeding, bottle feeding, baby care, and perineum care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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