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Oct 28, 2021

What to expect during (and after) Vaginal Delivery

Written By: Jacqueline Fernandez

Women have been giving birth since the beginning of time…and each woman’s experience has its own private design. I am a mother of three and gave birth to each of my babies in a hospital, with a doctor, via vaginal delivery. Nevertheless, all three experiences were very different for me. Here’s a little recap of my births, along with some additional 411 on how to cope with a vaginal delivery, or 3.

With my first baby, my water broke at around 36 weeks pregnant. I went to the bathroom and suddenly I heard and felt a “pop” and then came a huge gush of water. To my surprise, I thought I had a few more weeks to go before my son was born, but there are no certain timelines when it comes to babies. At my Dr’s direction, I took a quick shower, packed a bag, and my husband drove us to the hospital.

After checking in, my contractions started to get stronger. I got an epidural, which helped with pain, and it relaxed me but I could feel the contractions becoming stronger, and I had a feeling it was time to start pushing. The epidural can be confusing, as it numbs you to contractions, and the doctors had to tell me when to push based on the contraction monitor that is placed around the belly.

It’s natural to be a little confused, as the drugs administered can bring on some sensory confusion, and numbness. Your adrenaline is hitting an extreme high as your entire being is in a heightened state of action, and anticipation.

After hours of long and arduous pushing, and because the baby was stuck in the birth canal for too long, the doctor used a suction to pull the baby out, also known as vaccuum extraction. This was definitely terrifying, but in those fleeting moments, I had to trust that my Dr. was doing what was best for my baby. I ended up needing an episiotomy, if this happens, try not to worry, the epidural will have you covered on pain.

“Women have been giving birth since the beginning of time, and each woman’s experience has its own unique design.”                      

After you deliver your baby, you have to deliver your placenta. This is often a simple and natural process, but for me, what happened next was a little scary. I had formed blood clots in my uterus and continued to hemorrhage heavily. This is not common, but it was a very real, and traumatic aspect of my birth. The resident who was observing my childbirth had to reach her hand up into my uterus and pull out the blood clots so that I would stop bleeding. This hurt more than the actual childbirth!

Thankfully, she was able to get out what she needed to, and the bleeding slowed. I was then able to relax, enjoy the flow of oxytocin, and experience those first memorable baby snuggles.

My second baby was a totally different experience. I started to feel contractions in the afternoon, my husband came home to take me to the hospital. The midwife in labor and delivery checked my progression and said to take a long walk and come back when the contractions were stronger and closer together.

Things started to progress very quickly, and by the time I got back upstairs to L&D, the contractions were so strong I was bending over in pain. My water broke, and the contractions were very strong this time. I asked for an epidural but was told I was too far along and that I was about to have a baby! They rushed me to a delivery
room, I pushed a few times, and the baby was out. Without an epidural, it was very quick, I also found it to be extremely painful. I tore during this delivery as well, I had to be sewn up. I was shaking from the intensity of the experience so they gave me something to calm down. I felt much better and was ready to enjoy my new baby.

Unmedicated birth is not my personal choice, but if it is something you want to attempt, I admire your bravery! There are many methods, and techniques available to assist with the pain management of unmedicated birth.

With Baby #3, after starting to feel contractions at home, I got to the hospital in time for an epidural and was able to relax for a few hours while my labor progressed. When I felt like it was time to start pushing, I pushed a few times and the baby was out. It was definitely the calmest and easiest delivery out of the three!

For about 24 to 48 hours after giving birth, you have small contractions, especially when breastfeeding, as your uterus contracts back to its pre-baby size. They can be quite uncomfortable and get stronger after each baby you have. After vaginal birth, your vagina is sore, especially if you need stitches, and you bleed like you have your
period for about a week to ten days. The white “granny panties,” maxi pads and ice packs they give you in the hospital are lifesavers! I highly recommend taking as many home with you as you can. The pain relieving spray the hospital provided was very helpful to numb the area. The hospital also gives you a little water bottle to use
instead of wiping after urinating, which you must use until you’re able to wipe normally again. Make sure you take that home with you too!

Birth is no easy feat, and we all have different stories to tell. Labor is work, hence the term...my best unsolicited advice is to hang in there, and remember at the end of it, you’re going to somehow end up in new-baby heaven. You’ll be sore, and maybe a bit uncomfortable, but once your bundle arrives healthy, safe and sound, it makes it all worth the hard work and pain.

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