Navigate Up

Pregnancy Center - A-Z Index

J
K
Q
X
Z

Print This Page

Vaginal Birth - Series

Vaginal Birth

Normal Anatomy 1

This presentation illustrates key stages of a normal vaginal delivery.

Please keep in mind that every birth is unique, and your labor and delivery may be different.

Vaginal Birth

Body Changes Before Labor 2

Your body makes some amazing changes in the days and hours leading up to your baby's birth.

A day or two before labor begins, the mucus plug that sealed off your uterus detaches from the cervix and passes through your vagina. This discharge is sometimes called "bloody show" because it's tinged with blood.

Before labor begins or in the early stages of labor, your amniotic sac may rupture and you may feel fluid trickle or gush out of your vagina. If your "bag of waters" doesn't break on its own, your doctor may rupture it manually.

Pain Relief

Explore your pain-relief options before you go into labor. Some women aim for a drug-free delivery and rely on various breathing techniques, massage, visualization, hypnosis, and other strategies to ease the pain of labor. Others prefer pain medication or regional anesthesia (such as an epidural, which numbs the lower half of your body).

Vaginal Birth

Contractions happen when your uterine muscles involuntarily tighten and relax. When true labor begins, you feel contractions at regular intervals. As labor progresses, these contractions get longer, stronger, and closer together. During active labor, you may feel intense pain or pressure in your back or abdomen during each contraction. You may also feel the urge to push or bear down, though your doctor will ask you to wait until your cervix is completely dilated.

Vaginal Birth

Contractions help your cervix dilate -- or open -- so your baby can pass through the birth canal. You're fully dilated when your cervical opening measures 10 centimeters. As the cervix opens, it also thins (effaces) in preparation for delivery.

Vaginal Birth

When your cervix is fully dilated, your doctor gives you the OK to push. Propelled by your effort and the force of your contractions, the baby makes his way through the birth canal. The fontanels -- soft spots -- on his head allow it to mold to the shape of this narrow passage. Your baby's head "crowns" when the widest part of it is at the vaginal opening.

Vaginal Birth

As soon as your baby's head emerges, the doctor suctions amniotic fluid, blood, and mucus from his nose and mouth. More contractions and pushing help deliver the baby's shoulders and body.

Vaginal Birth

Unless your partner has requested the honor, the doctor clamps and cuts the umbilical cord and examines your newborn.

Vaginal Birth

It's not over yet: After your baby is born, more contractions help you deliver the placenta, or "afterbirth."

Updated: 12/9/2012

Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com