What Happens in Vaginal Delivery?

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For Now (Summer, 2022), here’s my Cliff Notes!!

In a nutshell, in Vaginal Birth, Unmedicated, at most hospitals, you are generally allowed to move around the labor floor, including use of tub, for labor (as long as water isn’t broken), but hospital settings vary widely in if they allow for actual delivery in a birth tub.  This is an important question to ask, so you know what your options are for you and this baby!

You may or may not have monitors attached to you and baby.  If the monitors are affecting your ability to move, and everything is going well, you can ask to disconnect them for a period of time to move differently. 

If allowed by your medical setting, A good goal is generally to ingest 100 calories an hour, and at least 3 oz of water an hour…but sometimes hospitals will not allow this. Talk to your medical team about what is, or isn’t, allowed.  

When it’s time to push, the room will TRANSFORM!!  Lights drop out from everywhere, pictures get pulled away and there are medical supplies behind them, and a bunch of people come into the room.  Some are doctors, most are nurses.  2-4 of them are there just to check on baby when baby comes out.  You will push in whatever position you end up in, for hopefully less than 2 hours.  Remember your goal is to relax as much as possible.  In the end, if you do have a strong urge to push, it is okay to do so, as long as nurses and docs say that it’s time.  If they are telling you to push and you have no urge, though, ‘just relaxing the pelvic muscles’ tends to be a better option, as this allows the uterus to do it’s thang.  

Baby’s head will crown first, then the doctor will ask you to pause and NOT PUSH for a moment.  This is to ensure that the umbilical cord is not around the neck.  When we are sure it is not, then you can resume pushing. Once the shoulders are out…the baby kind of slides out like a slippery eel really fast.  YAY!!  The nurses will put him-her on your chest immediately, as long as it is safe to do so.  You can request that they wait until the umbilical cord stops pulsing before cutting it.  That is advised.  Always, but especially if you live at a higher elevation, baby needs all the oxygen they can get! 

Once the nurses ensure the baby is fine, they tag baby with an anklet and take footprints and handprints…they usually give you a souvenir of this.  The doctor, and nurses, meanwhile, will attend to you at this time.  They will make sure the placenta comes fully out (one nurse might push on your (now very cuddly and soft) belly to help this along.  It doesn’t hurt, just feels weird to have an empty space there, where baby has been.  As the placenta comes out, the doctor may assess you for any tears that have occured, and will repair you under lidocaine, if needed.  

Once you’re cleaned up, the nurses and doctor will want you to walk to the bathroom and try to empty your bladder.  This will feel shaky, and most likely, for the next 2-3 days, when you walk into a bathroom, your bladder will start to empty on its own before you reach the toilet.  This is NORMAL in the first few days (the bladder just went through a lot), but ought to reduce drastically after day 2-3, and be gone by 1 week after in all but the most extreme cases.  

The baby will be encouraged to suckle, but no milk will come out (it takes about 2 days).  If it was a long labor, the baby may be dehydrated and low blood sugar, and may need formula or an IV.  This is common in long labors, but not otherwise.  If this is the case, the baby may go to the nurses station for these treatments.  

The baby will likely go to a nursery to allow you some time to rest. In some cases, the baby may require oxygen and-or to ‘go tanning’ under the UV lights for a day or 2, also behind the nurses station, but the baby is allowed to be with you as much as possible.