Childbirth & Delivery

Childbirth is a beautiful and transformative stage of the pregnancy journey. If you have recently found out you are pregnant, you are probably considering your birth plan.

What is a birth plan?

A birth plan is a detailed overview of your preferences for labour and delivery. The aim of the birth plan is to ensure you are comfortable and that medical professionals are aware of your wishes. Although, it’s important to keep in mind that labour does not always go exactly to plan, and doctors may need to make changes if needed.

A birth plan includes everything from pain relief, your feeding and care in the hospital, who you want in the delivery room and what type of delivery you’d like to have. Dr Tshimanga will outline each birthing method and work with you to determine the best delivery for your needs.

Vaginal Birth

Vaginal birth is the most common type of birth, and most OB/GYNs will recommend a vaginal birth unless there is a medical reason for a caesarean section (C-section). In most cases, a vaginal birth carries less risk than a C-section.

A vaginal delivery can be spontaneous or induced, and usually happens naturally at about 40 weeks of pregnancy. Induced labour is when delivery is influenced with medication. This is usually only recommended when the mother has a condition or is overdue.

Benefits of vaginal birth

  • Faster recovery time
  • The safest option for mother and baby
  • Lower chance of infection
  • Babies born naturally are found to have a stronger immune system

The 3 stages of a vaginal birth

Stage 1: Labour

This is the longest stage, although labour is different for every woman. On average, labour usually lasts first-time moms 12-19 hours. Labour occurs in two stages - early labour and active labour. In the early labour phase, your cervix will begin to dilate, and you will start feeling regular contractions at shorter intervals. Your water might also break at this stage. During the active labour phase, your contractions are becoming more regular and more intense at intervals of every 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Your cervix will dilate 8-10 cm at this stage. Many people opt for pain relief, also known as an epidural at this stage.

Stage 2: Birth

At this stage, your cervix will be fully dilated and you’ll feel a strong urge to push. Dr Tshimanga will be at your side to support you through the birth and be on hand should any complications arise.

Stage 3: Delivery of the placenta

After the baby has been delivered, the last stage is delivering the placenta, also known as afterbirth. This stage usually happens within 15 minutes of the delivery of the baby and usually lasts 5-6 minutes. During this stage, nurses are caring for your baby, making sure they are dry and warm so that you can have your first skin-to-skin contact and hold your baby for the first time.

Caesarian Section

A caesarean section, also known as a C-section, is a surgical procedure that involves the baby being born through incisions in the abdomen and uterus.

A C-section is usually recommended when there are complications that could put you or your baby at risk. This can either be planned in advance or also what is known as an emergency C-section, which is a decision made in the delivery room when complications arise.

Reasons you may want a planned C-section

  • You are expecting twins or multiples.
  • The baby is in a breech position - if the baby can’t be turned, a C-section must be performed
  • You have a pre-existing health condition
  • Placenta previa, meaning that the uterus is positioned too low

Reasons for an emergency C-section

  • Labour isn’t progressing
  • The umbilical cord is wrapped around your baby’s neck
  • The umbilical cord comes out before the baby does
  • Fetal distress that causes an irregular heart rate during birth

Recovering after birth

Recovery time for a vaginal birth and caesarian section varies from person to person. On average, it takes 6-8 weeks to fully recover. Dr Tshimanga will advise you on what to expect during recovery and how best to take care of you and your baby while you are recovering.