Mom & Baby Care

What Happens In A Normal Vaginal Delivery?

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 30 May 2023, Updated on - 16 June 2023

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Vaginal delivery is one of the safest ways of delivering a baby. It mostly occurs between the 37th and the 42nd week of pregnancy and is a natural process that does not require any medical intervention. In this article, we are going to discuss everything that you need to know about normal vaginal deliveries.

What is a Normal Vaginal Delivery?

Normal vaginal delivery is a process in which the mother gives birth to a baby through her vagina. It is the most common method of childbirth where the uterus contracts and opens your cervix. This enables the mother to push the baby out through her vagina.

What Are the Various Stages of Normal Vaginal Delivery?

There are three major stages that a mother undergoes at the time of childbirth.

1. Labour and thinning of the cervix

In the first stage of the normal delivery process, the cervix has to become malleable, soft and stretchy so that the mom goes through a painless delivery. During this process, several contractions occur to help dilate the cervix. The process can last up to 13 hours for a woman for the first pregnancy. The time lessens in case of a second or third delivery. The three sub-stages falling under this process include: 

  • Early labourDuring this stage, the mother can continue to perform her regular habits. She should also be focusing on a healthy diet including plenty of fluids. 

  • Active labour: In the second sub-stage, the cervix of the mother may open from 4 to 7 centimetres. The mother has to be hospitalised during this stage as the contractions tend to occur every 3 to 4 minutes, with each potentially lasting up to 60 seconds. 
  • Transitioning to the second stage: In this stage, the cervix can open up to 10 centimetres. It can cause extreme pain and stress with increased contractions. The mother can feel a strong urge to push during this stage because her rectal area is under constant pressure causing a stinging feeling in the vaginal area. It is very important to stay relaxed during this period.

2. Pushing and the baby’s birth

Once the cervix widens up completely, the second stage of labour begins. The contractions continue to be strong. They play an important role in pushing the baby head down first through the birth canal. The mother’s healthcare provider may ask her to keep pushing with every contraction.

3. The placenta is pushed out

In the final stage, once the baby is delivered, the entire placenta is pushed out through the baby canal. The process can be manually assisted by providing a gentle massage to the lower abdomen.

What Are the Advantages of a Normal Vaginal Delivery?

There are several advantages to vaginal delivery. They include:

  • You may have to stay at the hospital only for a short period.
  • It helps in preventing several post-delivery infections such as post-surgical haemorrhaging.
  • The recovery period is much quicker compared to those who went under caesarean.
  • Babies remain at a lower risk of suffering from respiratory problems.

What Are the Risks of Normal Vaginal Delivery?

The risks associated with normal vaginal delivery include: 

  • The uterus is at risk of getting ruptured.
  • There can be a case of fetal distress where the baby might not be getting enough oxygen from the mother.
  • A vaginal tear may happen due to excessive pressure.
  • The perineum, a soft tissue between the vulva and the anus, can also experience tears.
  • The baby might be bigger than anticipated.

After the delivery, the mother may experience, chronic pelvic pain, postpartum haemorrhage, urinary leakage, and pelvic organ prolapse.

What Should You Expect During the Recovery Period of Normal Vaginal Delivery?

Here are a few issues that you should look out for during the postpartum recovery phase of a normal delivery:

1. Vaginal discharge

The mother is likely to have a bright red flow for the first few days after delivery. It slowly tapers off, changing its colour from pink, brown, yellow or white. If the bleeding does not slow down and is accompanied by fever then you should visit a doctor.

2. Soreness

In case of a vaginal tear, the mother is likely to experience some pain and soreness for at least six to seven weeks. Using a cold sanitary pad is a small hack to relieve the pain temporarily. 

3. Mood changes

After childbirth, it is normal to experience frequent mood changes. The mother can often get easily irritated, sad or frustrated. It is very important to take proper care of the mother during this phase as they are prone to postpartum depression.


Giving birth is a very sensitive process that requires intense care and attention. You can also ask your doctor about your chances of delivering your baby through a normal delivery. If you have any doubts, talk to our experts.

Consult Apollo’s Expert Gynaecologists


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt


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