A vaginal birth is one in which the baby passes through the birth canal, or vagina. It is the usual, natural birth process, and babies are typically delivered vaginally unless your doctor finds a medical reason for delivery by Cesarean section (C-section) instead.
Advantages of a vaginal birth include:
- Quicker recovery
- Shorter hospital stay
- Low risk of infection
- Decreased risk of respiratory problems in the baby
A vaginal birth may not be the best choice if:
- You have an active genital infection, such as herpes.
- Your baby needs to be delivered immediately.
- You have placenta previa, when the placenta covers or partially covers the internal opening of your cervix.
- You or your baby have a health condition that could be worsened by labor and birth
Women who are pregnant with more than one baby or who have had a previous C-section may or may not be good candidates for vaginal birth.
If you are pregnant or preparing for pregnancy and want to know more about vaginal birth at California Hospital Medical Center, Dignity Health has a team of experts that can answer your questions and create a birth plan. Our comfortable Family Birth Centers use the latest technologies, so that you and your baby can experience a safe, healthy delivery. Find an OB near you today.
What You Can Expect from Your Vaginal Birth
Every labor and birth is different. Your experience will depend on your baby’s position, the progress of your labor and birth, and choices you and your medical team make during labor.
While you are in labor, a nurse will carefully monitor you and your baby. When your cervix, or entrance to your womb, is fully dilated, it’s time to push. Your Dignity Health birthing team will guide and support you, and check you and your baby immediately after birth to make sure you are both doing well. If needed, your doctor will repair any vaginal tears (or your episiotomy, if one was done) after delivery of the placenta.
Recovering from a Vaginal Birth
You will likely feel sore and tired for a while after childbirth. Contractions will continue sporadically in the hours and days after birth. These contractions, called afterpains, feel like strong menstrual cramps and help your uterus return to its pre-pregnant shape. Over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help with those pains.
You may have some difficulty urinating or passing a bowel movement in the early days after birth. Squirting warm water on your perineal area with a squeeze bottle may help.
Vaginal discharge will continue for weeks after birth. Over time, your flow will change from heavy and bright red to light and pinkish-white. Let your care provider know if you run a fever or if your vaginal discharge is foul-smelling.
See your doctor at Dignity Health for a postpartum checkup about six weeks after birth, so we can continue to care for your best health and well-being.
The Dignity Health Family Birth Center team provides comprehensive vaginal birth care at California Hospital Medical Center.