A vaginal birth takes planning and preparation! Read my tips to help you get ready and know what to expect.
Getting Ready for a Vaginal Birth
- Be as fit and healthy as possible. Labour is a big physical effort. Think of yourself as being in training!
- A well-balanced diet and regular exercise will really help.
- Antenatal Classes:
- North Shore Private and the Mater both provide antenatal classes – check the websites for details.
- There are also private group, in-home and online classes. However, be sure the person running the class has actual Birth Suite experience (like a midwife). Unfortunately, some classes are run by people with no professional birth experience. I have seen information given to couples that is incomplete or incorrect.
- Birth preferences:
- Think about your ideal birth plan and discuss it with your OB in advance.
- Birth plan templates found online are usually generic. Consider whether they apply to your circumstances.
- Also, templates often say things that sound good but are actually unclear. A classic example is “no X unless medically necessary.” You need to talk to your OB about the circumstances in which X is medically necessary, so you understand what is happening if your OB needs to recommend X on the day.
- Have a Plan B…and a Plan C:
- Assemble your “birth & beyond” team:
- Who is taking care of your other kids and pets if you labour in the middle of the night? Who is helping out when you first arrive home?
- Pack your bag well in advance.
- Do a trial run to the hospital. Work out the best route, where the parking is located and which entrance to use for Birth Suite.
Waiting for labour to start
- Read our pages on how to know if your waters have broken and is your labour starting?
- Talk to Dr Walsh about what will happen if you go past your due date.
When to call the Birth Suite
- Your waters have broken
- You have regular, painful contractions
- There is bleeding from your vagina
- Your baby is moving less than usual
- You have any other concerns or simply aren’t sure about something
What happens in hospital?
- Take your antenatal card – the midwives will ask for it on arrival.
- The midwives will do a CTG (a trace of baby’s heartbeat) and a vaginal examination to see if your cervix is dilating.
- Once you are in labour, you’ll have your own room on the Birth Suite and a midwife will look after you alongside your OB. The midwife guides you in all the things that can help your labour – mobilisation, different positions, pain relief options – while monitoring how you and baby are progressing. The Birth Suite midwife works closely with your OB and other doctors such as the anaesthetist and neonatologist throughout your labour and birth.
- Your OB will be in and out during the early part of labour. They will be close by in case of any concerns and will be with you for the birth.
The Stages of Labour & Vaginal Birth
- First stage: your cervix softens and dilates. Contractions become stronger, more regular and closer together. The first stage ends when your cervix is fully dilated, about 10cm in diameter.
- Second stage: from the time your cervix is fully dilated until baby is born. It’s during this stage that you push.
- Third stage: after baby is born, until the placenta and membranes are delivered.
- Afterwards, while you are doing skin-to-skin with baby, your OB will see if you need stitches and the team will keep an eye on your bleeding and vital signs. If you had an epidural, you’ll stay in bed until your legs are back to normal. Then you can have a well-earned snack and a shower! Baby is weighed and usually receives the Vitamin K and Hepatitis B injections. Finally, you’ll say goodbye to the Birth Suite team and move to the Postnatal Ward.
How long is your hospital stay after a vaginal birth?
In the private hospital, most women stay for 5 nights after giving birth.
You may want to consider keeping visitors to a minimum while you are in hospital. New mothers often underestimate how fatigued they will be immediately after birth. The first days on the postnatal ward are a really important time to rest, recover and bond with your new baby. It’s also a crucial time to take advantage of the midwives, lactation consultants and physiotherapists who will help you prepare for going home. It can be hard to get everything you need out of your postnatal stay if you have lots of visitors interrupting you – as lovely and well intentioned as they are!
As always, this information is intended for general educational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Please discuss any medical issues with your own doctor. Read our full medical disclaimer here.