Process of normal delivery
Normal delivery refers to childbirth through the vagina without any medical intervention. It is also known as a vaginal birth. Every delivery is unique and may differ from mothers to mothers. There are different stages of normal delivery or vaginal birth that include:
Stage I: Early labor and active labor: This stage starts when a regular contraction starts leading to dilation (widening) of the cervix up to 10 cm. Contractions also lead to softening, shortening, and thinning (effacement) of the cervix, allowing the baby to move into the birth canal. It is the longest of all three stages. The substage of this stage includes:
Early labor: During this labor, the cervix opens and thins. The mother might feel mild irregular contractions. As the cervix opens, the mother might notice a clear, pink, slightly bloody discharge from the vagina, which is likely the mucus plug blocking the opening of the cervix. The average length of this stage varies from hours to days for first-time mothers. To promote comfort, the mother can perform these techniques:
- Go for a walk
- Listen to soothing music
- Take a warm shower or bath
- Try relaxation techniques
- Change positions
Active labor: During this stage, the cervix dilates from 6 to 10 cm. Contractions become more powerful and come more frequently. Moreover, you might feel the following symptoms:
Active labor lasts for four to eight hours or more. During this stage, the cervix dilates at approximately 1 cm per hour. To promote comfort, the mother can perform these techniques:
- Go for a stroll
- Take a warm bath or shower
- Breathe in between the contractions
- Change positions
- Gently massage between the contractions
There’s the most painful phase called the transition phase because the cervix dilates to its fullest at about 10 cm. The contractions are powerful and painful, which continue at intervals of two to three minutes, each lasting for 60-90 seconds.
Stage II: Pushing and subsequent delivery of the baby: This stage starts once the cervix dilates completely. The duration of this stage may be anywhere between a few minutes and up to a few hours or more. The mother has to push with every contraction, which can lead to fatigue. This stage is also characterized by the following:
- Intense pain around the vaginal opening as the child comes out
- The mother feels pressure and gets the feeling that she wants to pass motions
- The physician making episiotomy (a cut to widen the opening of the vagina)
- Continuous pushing by the mother to expel the baby out
- The baby’s head comes out first, then the shoulders, and then the butt
- Cutting the umbilical cord as a final step after the baby is completely out and has the first cry
Stage III: Delivery of the placenta: After the child comes out, the final stage involves the delivery of the placenta. It would take about 5-30 minutes for the doctor to take out the placenta out through the vaginal canal. The mother will continue to have mild contractions that will be close together and less painful. The physician might ask you to take medicines to encourage uterine contractions and prevent bleeding. The physician may also check if the placenta is intact and no fragments are remaining in the uterus, causing infection or bleeding.
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Braxton Hicks Contractions (False Labor)
Braxton hicks contractions are also known as false labor pains. Though these irregular uterine contractions may occur in the second trimester, they're more likely to occur during the third trimester of pregnancy. Unlike true labor pains, false labor pains are often irregular, may stop when you walk, rest, or change positions, and the contractions do not get closer together or stronger.
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Braxton Hicks contractions
Braxton Hicks contractions tend to become more frequent toward the end of pregnancy, and are not as painful as real labor contractions; do not occur in regular intervals; do not become longer over time; and may disappear for a period of time and then return.
Frequently one of the early symptoms and signs of true labor is when the contractions begin to occur less than 10 minutes apart.
Real labor contractions occur at regular intervals that become progressively shorter; more painful as labor progresses; are described as a tightening, pounding, or stabbing pain; may feel similar to menstrual cramps; and sometimes Braxton Hicks contractions can be triggered by dehydration, sexual intercourse, increased activity of the mother or baby, touching of the pregnant woman's abdomen, or a distended bladder.
Natural and home remedies to soothe and provide comfort for Braxton Hicks contractions include relaxation exercises like deep breathing or mental relaxation; change positions or take a walk if you have been active and rest; drink a glass of herbal tea or water; eat; or soak in a warm bath for 30 minutes (or less).
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