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Vaginal Delivery

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 4, 2023.

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?

  • You can ask someone to be with you during labor and delivery. The person can be a spouse, friend, or family member. This person can help make you more comfortable. Arrange to be able to contact the person when labor begins.
  • You may need tests to check for certain infections that can be passed to your baby. You may be given antibiotics to fight a bacterial infection you have or prevent an infection during delivery.
  • Ask if it is okay to eat while you are in labor.
  • Your healthcare provider can give you medicines for pain relief if you choose to have them. You may need medicine to induce (start) your labor if your labor is not moving forward. You may need to move in bed, stand, or walk to help your baby move into position for birth.

What will happen during vaginal delivery?

  • You can move into several positions during delivery. You can lie on your back, have your feet up in stirrups, or squat. You may feel pressure on your rectum. This pressure is caused by the movement of your baby's head down the birth canal. You may feel the urge to push. Your healthcare provider will have you push when you feel the urge. He or she will guide your baby out of the birth canal. Forceps or suction may be used to help deliver your baby. You may also need an episiotomy (incision) to make the vaginal opening larger. This will make more room for your baby.
  • At least 1 minute after your baby is born, your healthcare provider will put clamps on the umbilical cord. The cord will then be cut. Your uterus will continue to contract after delivery to push out the placenta. You may be given medicine to prevent heavy bleeding when the placenta is pushed out. Your healthcare provider may close your episiotomy incision or any tears with stitches.

What will happen after vaginal delivery?

  • Healthcare providers will examine your baby. Your baby may be placed on your chest right away. He or she may also start breastfeeding. Your baby will also be given vitamin K as a shot.
  • Healthcare providers will examine you. Your blood pressure will be checked right after you give birth. Providers will check for vaginal bleeding, and check that your uterus is contracting. Your temperature and heart rate will be checked regularly.
  • You may be taken to another room to rest with your baby. Call for a healthcare provider if you are holding your baby and start to feel tired. The provider can put him or her in a bassinet near you while you rest or sleep. This will help prevent an accidental drop or fall of your baby.
  • 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 hurt more while you breastfeed your baby.
  • 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 be able to go home within 24 to 48 hours after delivery. 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 healthcare providers 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.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.