There are three stages of normal delivery and the amount of time in each stage of delivery may vary for each woman. For the first-time moms, labor and delivery usually last about 12 to 14 hours while for not first-timers, it becomes shorter.
Normal delivery – The first stage
The first stage of labor have three phases: latent, active, and transition.
a. Latent phase
This is the onset of dilation and effacement of cervix. You will experience minimal discomfort at this stage. You will probably be admitted to the hospital during this stage if contractions are regular. This is actually the longest but least intense stage.
b. Active phase
Rapid dilation of the cervix happens which causes intense pain or pressure in your back or abdomen during each contraction. This phase will also make you feel that you want to push or bear down but the doctor may advise that you wait until the cervix is fully open.
c. Transition phase
Dilation of the cervix is until 10 centimeters. You will feel strong, painful, and frequent contractions every three to four minutes that will last from 60 to 90 seconds.
Normal delivery – the second stage
The second stage is when the doctor will give the signal to push because your cervix is completely open. Your pushing and the force of your contractions will propel the baby through the birth canal. The baby’s head has fontanels (soft spots) that will help it fit through the narrow canal and crowns when the widest part of it reaches the vaginal opening. When your baby’s head comes out, the doctor will suction amniotic fluid, blood, and mucus from his or her nose and mouth. You have to continue with pushing to deliver baby’s shoulders and body. Clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord will be done once the baby has been delivered.
Normal delivery – the last stage
The last stage is when you deliver the placenta.
What to expect after delivery?
1. You may experience pain at the site of the episiotomy or laceration.
2. You may have swollen, hard, and painful breasts and nipples because of the milk that is coming in.
3. You may have hemorrhoids or the swollen varicose veins in the anal area.
4. Bowel movement may not be easy days after the delivery.
5. You may experience hot and cold flashes owing to changing levels of hormones and blood flow.
6. When you laugh or sneeze, you may have urine or bowel leakage.
7. You will still feel contraction for a few days.
8. There will be a bloody discharge heavier than a regular menstruation but this will fade to white or yellow and will stop for two months.
WebMD. Normal labor and delivery process. (2018). Retrieved 10 October 2018 from https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/normal-labor-and-delivery-process
Here are the cases when your healthcare provider might recommend a C-section:
1. If your cervix is not opening despite strong contractions over hours.
2. Your baby’s heartbeat changes.
3. If your baby’s feet or buttocks enter the birth canal first or he or she is positioned side or shoulder first.
4. If you are having twin pregnancy.
5. If the placenta is in the opening of your cervix.
6. If a loop of the umbilical cord slips through your cervix ahead of your baby.
7. If you have a severe health problem.
8. If you have a large fibroid obstructing the birth canal or your baby has an unusually large head.
9. If you underwent C-section during your first delivery.
Before the procedure
1. You might be requested to shower with antiseptic soap the night before and the morning before your C-section. You are not allowed to shave your pubic hair within 24 hours of your C-section. It will be trimmed by the surgical staff before the operation.
2. The hospital staff will cleanse your abdomen. A tube (catheter) will be placed into your bladder to collect urine. Intravenous (IV) lines will be placed in a vein in your hand or arm to provide fluid and medication.
3. Regional anesthesia is mostly used for C-sections. This allows you to be awake during the procedure because only the lower part of your body is numb.
During the procedure
The doctor will use an abdominal incision (incision through your abdominal wall; horizontally done near the pubic hairline) and a uterine incision (incision horizontally across the lower part of the uterus).It is through the incisions that the baby will be delivered. Your baby’s mouth and nose of fluids will be cleared by the doctor, then clamp and cut the umbilical cord. The placenta will then be removed from the uterus and the incisions will be closed with sutures.
After the procedure
Your doctor will discuss the post medications that you need. You will be advised to drink plenty of fluids and do walking once the effects of your anesthesia fades. You may also start breastfeeding.
Mayo Clinic. (9 June 2018). C-section. Retrieved 10 October 2018 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/c-section/about/pac-20393655