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Birth Process: What Happens When You Give Birth?

Birth Process: What Happens When You Give Birth?

The birth process can feel very daunting, especially for first-time moms. This is why keeping yourself informed about what’s going to happen can help assuage some of the fears, and give you peace of mind.

Here’s what you need to know about the birth process.

What happens during the birth process?

Contrary to what most people might see in films and in television, giving birth is not as simple as just “pushing the baby out”.

In addition, the birth process during a vaginal delivery versus a cesarean-section (C-section) is also different. Here’s what happens during each type of birth:

Natural Vaginal Birth: Controlling Pain and Promoting Labor

During a vaginal delivery

A vaginal delivery is what most moms would go through when they give birth. The process of the baby along with the placenta leaving the uterus is referred to as labor.

The length of labor also varies from person to person. But the usual average is around 4 to 8 hours, and maybe a little bit more for some..

Here is a breakdown of the birth process:

Labor starts

You’ll know that you’re ready to give birth once the signs of labor start. This usually includes rhythmic contractions that get stronger, as well as your water bag breaking.

This is the time that you should head to the hospital, and when you’re settled in, nurses will be checking in with you every 1-4 hours, depending on how far into labor you are. A doctor or midwife will perform a baseline vaginal examination to check how dilated your cervix is. Periodic internal examination is done in order to determine how far along you are with labor, and if you’re about to give birth.

Symptoms Before Labor Begins: What to Look Out For

Giving birth

Once you’re about to give birth, meaning the presenting part of the baby is already almost out, the doctor or midwife will be coaching you. They will ask you to lie down in a dorsal lithotomy position— with your knees flexed and legs spread apart. You will be guided every step of the way when you are to give birth.

This is the time when women start bearing down or “pushing” out the baby, and this can be very physically taxing. As the baby goes out of your vagina, you can experience some tearing and pain as it tries to accommodate for your baby coming out.

During the early part of labor, if the pain is too much, you can ask your doctor to give you an epidural for “painless” labor. If you find the pain tolerable, this may be skipped but during repair of the vagina, rest assured you will be given local anesthesia to numb the area being stitched.

After birth

Once the baby comes out, you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief, as the “worst” is over. Though, you will still be experiencing uterine contractions as your body tries to push out your placenta.

Thankfully, this happens relatively smoothly, and it usually takes just an additional push before your placenta slips out of your body.

This is also the time that you get to be with your baby, and you can even immediately start breastfeeding. This is ideal as your baby needs all of the nutrients provided best by your breastmilk.

What Happens During a Gentle C-Section?

During a C-section

In contrast with a natural birth, there are a number of differences in the birth process of a C-section. In most cases, a C-section occurs if labor is taking too long, or if the baby is in a breech or transverse position, which can be very dangerous for a natural birth. Your doctor might also recommend a C-section if the baby’s heart rate drops during labor.

Though, some moms also opt to have a C-section as their preference instead of a natural birth.

Here’s a breakdown of what happens:

Before the procedure

Once your doctor has decided to push through with a C-section, you will be given anesthesia to numb the pain. You won’t feel anything from your torso downwards, though you might feel some movement or slight pressure.

You’ll also be staying awake throughout the procedure.

During the C-section

Your doctor will make an incision in your abdomen, and your baby will be delivered through that incision t. The process is relatively fast , and the whole operation may range from less than an hour to an hour and a half.

Once the baby has been delivered, your doctor will repair your uterus and abdomen in layers

After the C-section

You might feel some pain as the anesthesia wears off, and you’ll also need to take care of your wound. You’ll also be able to spend time immediately with your baby and breastfeed.

Learn more about Giving Birth here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Pregnancy Complications | Maternal and Infant Health | CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregnancy-complications.html, Accessed March 9, 2021

What are some common complications of pregnancy? | NICHD – Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancy/conditioninfo/complications, Accessed March 9, 2021

Pregnancy complications | womenshealth.gov, https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/youre-pregnant-now-what/pregnancy-complications, Accessed March 9, 2021

4 Common Pregnancy Complications | Johns Hopkins Medicine, https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/staying-healthy-during-pregnancy/4-common-pregnancy-complications, Accessed March 9, 2021

Complications of Pregnancy, https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=complications-of-pregnancy-85-P01198, Accessed March 9, 2021

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated May 28
Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, M.D.