What Happens During Vaginal Birth and Cesarean Section?


When you're in the second stage of labor -- delivery -- you are mere minutes to a couple hours away from meeting your baby. If you're having a natural birth, you'll push hard during your contractions and rest in between them. And if you happen to poop during all that pushing, don't worry! It happens. Your care team should let you get into whatever delivery position feels best to you, like lying on your back, kneeling, squatting, or getting on your hands and knees.

Your doctor will tell you when to push once your baby's head appears. You can ask to see your little one in a mirror for extra motivation. The doctor may use a salad-tong-shaped tool called forceps or a suction device to help guide your baby out. Once you've delivered your newborn, you, your partner, or a member of your care team can cut the umbilical cord.

There's one final stage of labor left now. You'll deliver an organ called the placenta, which nourished your little one with oxygen and nutrients in the womb. You'll have more contractions as you push it out -- but it should take only 5 to 30 minutes or so. And after that, you can relax and cuddle with your bundle of joy!

If you deliver your baby by C-section instead, here's how it happens in general. Your medical team will clean your belly and give you fluids and meds through a vein in your arm or hand. You'll get medicine called anesthesia to numb pain. One kind numbs just the lower part of your body and lets you stay awake. Another kind called general anesthesia puts you to sleep during the procedure. Your doctor will decide what's best.

Your doctor then usually makes a cut near your pubic hairline and continues layer by layer to your womb. She delivers your baby through those cuts, removes your placenta, and closes the incision she made. You and your baby will probably recover in the hospital for 2-3 days.