A vaginal delivery is the birth of offspring (babies in humans) in mammals through the vagina. It is the natural method of birth for all mammals except monotremes, which lay eggs into the external environment. The average length of a hospital stay for a normal vaginal delivery is 36–48 hours or with an episiotomy (a surgical cut to widen the vaginal canal) 48–60 hours, whereas a C-section is 72–108 hours. Different types of vaginal deliveries have different terms:
A spontaneous vaginal delivery (SVD) occurs when a pregnant female goes into labor without the use of drugs or techniques to induce labor, and delivers her baby in the normal manner, without forceps, vacuum extraction, or a cesarean section.
An assisted vaginal delivery (AVD) or instrumental vaginal delivery occurs when a pregnant female goes into labor (with or without the use of drugs or techniques to induce labor), and requires the use of special instruments such as forceps or a vacuum extractor to deliver her baby vaginally.
An induced vaginal delivery is a delivery involving labor induction, where drugs or manual techniques are used to initiate the process of labor. Use of the term "IVD" in this context is less common than for instrumental vaginal delivery.
A normal vaginal delivery (NVD) is a vaginal delivery, whether or not assisted or induced, usually used in statistics or studies to contrast with a delivery by cesarean section.
THE STAGES OF A VAGINAL DELIVERY
Stage 1: Labor
Labor itself is divided into three phases — early labor, active labor and transitional labor. All women who deliver vaginally will experience all three phases of labor, though you may not notice the first phase at all. The timing and intensity of contractionscan help clue you in to which phase of labor you’re in, while periodic physical exams will confirm your progress.
Stage 2: Pushing and delivery of the baby
This is when your cervix reaches the magic 10 cm mark —meaning you’re fully dilated. Now it’s your turn to push your baby the rest of the way through the birth canal, unless you’re laboring down (in which case you’ll catch a break for a few minutes to an hour while your uterus does most of the work bringing baby farther down into the birth canal).
You may wonder: Does pushing hurt more than contractions? Most women actually find that transitional labor, or those last 2 to 3 cm of dilation, is the most demanding and intense phase of labor — but it’s fortunately also the shortest, usually lasting 15 minutes to an hour. As your baby crowns and you push him or her out, you will feel a tingling, stretching or burning sensation (it’s called the “ring of fire” for a reason).
Stage 3: Delivery of the placenta
The worst is over. In this final stage of labor, you’ll continue to have mild contractions as your practitioner helps you deliver your baby’s placenta. He and she will examine it as well as your uterus to be sure everything’s as expected.
Benefits of physiological birth for the mother include
- being more likely to breastfeed successfully
- a shorter physical and psychological recovery period after the birth
- an opportunity for personal growth from a deep sense of achievement and emotional wellbeing .
- a cocktail of labour hormones which enhance mother–baby attachment and support early breastfeeding success
Benefits of physiological birth for the baby include
- boosting the baby's body systems to cope with the change from womb to world including: blood sugar regulation, breathing ; temperature regulation ; blood circulation to the baby's brain ; exploratory behaviours
- providing a cocktail of labour hormones which enhance mother–baby attachment and support early breastfeeding success
- enhancing the baby's longer-term growth, health and development compared with caesarean birth
- exposing the baby's body inside and out, to friendly bacteria before other bacteria can take a hold
- switching the newborn baby's genes on in a way which optimises the baby's brain development