What Happens During Natural Birth

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Every delivery is as unique and individual as each mother and infant is. In addition, women may have completely different experiences with each consecutive labor and delivery. Giving birth is a life-changing event that will leave an impression on a woman for the rest of her life. Every mother will essentially want giving birth to be a positive experience and would like to know what to expect.


Some mothers choose to give birth using no medications at all, relying instead on techniques such as relaxation and controlled breathing for pain control. With natural childbirth, the mother is in control of her body, usually with a labor assistant gently guiding and supporting her through the different stages of labor.


About natural childbirth

Natural childbirth is a way of giving birth by letting nature takes its course. This may include:

  • Going through labor and delivery without the help of medications, including pain relievers such as epidural.
  • Using few or no artificial medical interventions such as continuous fetal monitoring or episiotomies– that is when the area between the vagina and anus, called the perineum, is cut to make room for the baby during delivery.
  • Allowing the mother to lead the labor and delivery process, dealing with it in any way she feels comfortable.

Many mothers choose natural childbirth to feel more in touch with the birth experience and to deal with labor in a proactive manner.


What are the stages of labor for a vaginal delivery?


First stage:

Your uterus will contract to help the cervix dilate (open). Contractions will soon occur more often and get stronger. The fluid sac that surrounds the baby in the womb will break open. The medical caregiver will break the sac if it does not break by itself. You may need to move in bed, stand, or walk to help your baby move into the birth position. The first stage ends when the cervix is dilated to 10 centimetres.


Second stage:

Occurs when the cervix is maximally dilated (10 centimetres). This is when you will be asked to push.  This stage of labor may last from one to two hours upwards – a first time delivery can often take longer than subsequent deliverys.


Third stage:

Once the baby is born, the medical caregiver will put clamps on the cord that connects the baby to the placenta. The placenta is the organ that provides oxygen and nutrients to the baby during pregnancy. The cord is then cut and the uterus will continue to contract to push out the placenta. The third stage ends when the placenta is pushed out.


Pain and other sensations

Labor pain comes with many different sensations.  For some, it resembles menstrual cramps; for others, severe pressure; and for others, extremely strong waves that feel like diarrhoea cramps. First-time mothers are more likely to give their pain a higher rating than women who’ve had babies before.


The cervix and vagina during labor and delivery

During labor, the role of the cervix must change from maintaining the pregnancy to facilitating delivery of the baby. The fundamental changes that occur near the end of the pregnancy result in softening of the cervical tissue and thinning of the cervix. Eventually, the cervical canal must open until it has reached 10 centimetres in diameter and the baby is able to pass into the birth canal. 


Duration of labor& delivery

There’s no magic timetable when a woman is giving birth. For some, the baby comes in a few hours; for many others it may take all day (or longer), whether you opt for medications or not, every woman’s body react to labor differently.

Like the cervix, the vagina and the vaginal opening must stretch and dilate to at least 10 centimetres to allow the baby’s head to pass during delivery. Although vaginal tissues are soft and flexible, when delivery occurs rapidly or with excessive force, the tissues can tear. In most cases, the lacerations are minor and easily repaired; occasionally, though, they may be severe and result in long-term problems.



After your baby is delivered, you will feel a combination of emotions.  You may be exhausted and relieved. Even in a weakened state, you may have a huge surge of adrenaline that makes you feel elated. Some women cry, laugh, or are so tired they can only smile. The baby’s umbilical cord is clamped and then cut, often by the father or another family member. Sometimes the nurse, midwife, or doctor will do this, depending on how the baby is doing.


When to go home after a vaginal delivery

You may go home within 24 to 48 hours after birth if you and your baby do not have any medical problems. If you need support at home, ask the doctor about home visits by another caregiver. This caregiver can help you with breastfeeding, bottle feeding, baby care, and perineum care.


Risks of a vaginal delivery

Natural childbirth is, in general, very safe. It only becomes risky when a woman ignores her healthcare provider’s recommendations or if she refuses medical intervention if everything doesn’t go as planned.

It’s important for the well-being of the mother and her baby to be open to other options if complications occur. In an emergency, refusing medical help could put mother’s life and her baby’s at serious risk.


For many mums-to-be, having a natural childbirth isn’t about being “brave”— it’s about treating labor and delivery as a natural event. Many women find the experience, despite any pain, extremely empowering and rewarding. It must be remembered though that a natural birth however much desired may not always be possible if complications occur during labor and delivery.  It is advisable to accept the advice of your medical professionals and what they feel is best for you and your baby as labor progresses.

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