A baby can enter the world in one of two ways – a vaginal birth (also known as normal delivery) or surgical delivery via a cesarean section (C-section). But regardless of what procedure ends up taking place, the main goal is to ensure the good health and safety of both the mother and baby.
If there are no complications and risks connected to the pregnancy, the usual and recommended route is via vaginal birth. By definition, a vaginal birth means that the baby will pass through the birth canal. Depending on the condition, labour can be a straightforward, uncomplicated process, or it may require some assistance, like a medically-induced vaginal birth.
Most normal deliveries happen during a woman’s 38th to 40th week of pregnancy.
Doctors and expecting mums both prefer a vaginal birth or normal spontaneous delivery because of the known side effects and longer recovery period that comes with a cesarean section birth. In fact, some women who had a cesarean delivery before would still want to try for vaginal birth in their next pregnancy, which is known as Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).
A vaginal or normal delivery can take place in the hospital, a birthing centre, or even at home. Some mums who want to have a painless normal delivery ask for pain medicine, such as an epidural, to help manage their labour pain.
Pros and Cons of Having a Normal Delivery
If you are wondering how to have a normal delivery, it would be beneficial to know the benefits of having a straightforward vaginal birth to the baby and mother:
- A normal spontaneous delivery typically requires a shorter hospital stay and recovery time compared with a C-section. The pregnant mum can already stand up unsupported within an hour after giving birth, and if there are no complications with the delivery, the typical length of a hospital stay following a vaginal delivery is 24 to 48 hours.
- Generally, the healing and recovery time for normal delivery is often significantly faster than that of a C-section.
- There is less risk associated with having major surgery, such as severe bleeding, scarring, infections, reactions to anaesthesia and longer-lasting pain.
- Skin-to-skin contact can be administered as soon as the baby is born and breastfeeding can also be initiated sooner.
- The muscles involved in the process of vaginal delivery are more likely to squeeze out the fluid in a newborn’s lungs, which makes them less likely to suffer breathing problems at birth.
However, like most medical procedures, a vaginal birth also comes with risks and potential complications. Here are some of the possible disadvantages of having a normal delivery:
- Labour and vaginal delivery is a long and gruelling process that can take a toll on the mother, and the baby, and this may lead to foetal distress (when this happens, an emergency C-section may be needed).
- During the process of the delivery, the woman may have perineal tears or need an episiotomy that requires stitches and several weeks of healing time.
- Some women experience issues with bladder control or an organ prolapse following vaginal birth.
- According to Stanford Children’s Health, prolonged labour or delivering a big baby vaginally may cause injury to the infant resulting in a bruised scalp or a fractured collarbone.
Common Reasons for Having a C-Section
Cesarean sections can be planned (meaning scheduled for medical reasons), elective (scheduled for non-medical reasons, although this is not advised), or decided upon due to an emergency.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there are certain reasons that make having a cesarean section delivery necessary, such as:
- medical concerns for the baby
- being pregnant with more than one baby
- problems with the placenta
- labour isn’t progressing in a timely manner
- the baby is large
- multiple pregnancies
- breech presentation
- maternal infections or conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes
While some of these factors cannot be avoided, one must try to avoid complications in pregnancy to prevent getting a scheduled C-section and increase the likelihood of having a normal delivery.
How to Increase Your Chances of Having a Normal Delivery
Image source: iStock
You may be wondering how to have a normal delivery. Here are some things you can do during your pregnancy that may make a natural or vaginal birth more likely:
Enrol in a birthing class.
The goal of signing up for childbirth classes is to empower you with knowledge and confidence. There, you will learn about the process of labour and childbirth, different kinds of interventions, how to have a healthy pregnancy and coping skills and tips for easy normal delivery.
Being prepared will also enable you to relax and be more mindful when you’re already in active labour and have a painless normal delivery likely.
Choose a health provider who values vaginal birth.
Get recommendations from friends or people in your childbirth class. Ask about gynaecologists who have a track record of successful normal deliveries. On your first appointment with your doctor, ask about their rates of vaginal births (compared to c-sections). You can also ask about their intervention rates.
Make sure that you are comfortable asking your doctor anything about your pregnancy. This includes tips for easy normal delivery. Doing so will help you maintain a healthy pregnancy. You can even come up with a birth plan together to achieve your goal (in this case, a successful vaginal birth).
You can also discuss the medication you want to receive so you will know how to get normal delivery without pain.
Practise perineal massage.
As for what to do in the last month of pregnancy for normal delivery, here’s one tip. According to Baby Centre, massaging your perineum (the area between your vagina and your bottom) helps prepare your body for giving birth, by loosening the muscles that need to stretch as your baby emerges into the world. It reduces the chances of having an episiotomy for first-time mums.
Practise doing it once or twice a week, for two weeks leading up to your due date. To ensure your safety while doing this massage, consult with your midwife or your gynaecologist on how to do it accurately.
Stay as healthy as you can throughout your pregnancy.
Eating right, getting enough rest and exercise, staying off vices and regularly taking your prenatal vitamins and attending your prenatal appointments can help you prevent complications during your pregnancy. If you or your baby is considered at risk for any birth defects or labour difficulties, your doctor has no choice but to schedule a cesarean delivery for you and your child’s safety.
As for food for normal delivery, load up on fruits and vegetables. You also need to stay hydrated. Avoid processed food as much as you can, as this can lead to weight gain. Maintaining a healthy weight gain is important to avoid complications that may lead to a C-section. So it is best to eat healthy food for normal delivery.
When it comes to exercises for normal delivery, you can try walking, swimming, and yoga. At home, you can do kegel exercises for your pelvic floor muscle, squats, and pelvic stretches. Do these exercises for normal delivery and prepare your body for a vaginal birth.
Pregnancy Guide: Normal Delivery vs. Caesarean
Pros And Cons of Different Vaginal Birth Positions During Labour
10 Practical Labour Tips for First-Time Mums
Work with your natural labour hormones.
The hormone that is responsible for initiating labour is oxytocin. However, if you’re scared or anxious about your pregnancy, your adrenaline levels ( the hormone that slows labour) rise. At the same time, your oxytocin levels fall. For this reason, it is important to be as calm as you can. This is to help your body produce this hormone that helps progress labour.
Moreover, keep your endorphins high. This is the hormone that produces a calming effect. Keeping endorphins high will help you cope with the pain and get into a trance-like state. This way, your primitive birth instincts can kick in and take over.
Practice relaxation and breathing techniques.
Do you know what helps you relax? That information will be of big help when labour begins and the contraction starts coming in. Try preparing things or activities like will help you relax such as meditation or listening to soothing music.
Moreover, practice taking a deep breath, holding it in for about five seconds and releasing it slowly as well. This kind of breathing technique helps mums relax during labour. This is part of what to do in last month of pregnancy for normal delivery.
You can also try researching hypnobirthing. This is a birthing method that helps you how to get normal delivery without pain.
Stay at home until you’re in active labour.
Once early labour starts and you feel the contractions, it can be tempting to just “get it over with.” But if you want a chance at a normal delivery, you must hold it together as long as you can.
Being admitted to the hospital while you’re still in early labour is likely to increase your risk of interventions, such as the need to speed up your labour later on and the need for medical pain relief, such as an epidural.
Once you go into labour, contact your doctor and come up with a plan. They may advise you to wait it out at home a bit longer. If you feel like you are able to, definitely do so. Try to relax at home while tuning in to your baby’s movement. Know when active labour is coming and it’s time to go to the hospital.
Image Source: iStock
As an added tip, listen to your doctor! I am a mum who had a successful vaginal birth after a c-section. What really helped me deliver my baby normally was finding a doctor who specialises in VBAC. I worked with her and followed her instructions to a T. I followed the diet she gave me, as well as the exercises she instructed me to do during my third trimester. It was all worth it because I delivered my baby vaginally, and more importantly, safely.
We mentioned this at the start of the article. It doesn’t matter if you had a normal delivery or a C-section. Because the main goal is always to ensure the health and safety of your baby and yours as well. If you have any concerns about your birth plan, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor.
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