A vaginal delivery is a childbirth option that happens when the baby is pushed down the birth canal and delivered through the vagina. Every labor and delivery is different. How long labor and delivery lasts and how it progresses varies depending on previous births, the position of the baby’s head, and the size of the baby and the birth canal.
There are, however, general stages of labor and delivery that a healthcare provider uses to decide whether it is progressing normally for a vaginal delivery.
The 3 stages of labor are:
- First stage: The cervix opens and thins to full dilation. The average woman in her first labor may dilate about 1 cm per hour during the active phase of labor. If you have had a baby before, the cervix usually opens faster.
- Second stage: The baby moves through the birth canal and is born. This stage of labor usually lasts 15 to 75 minutes but may last as long as 2 or 3 hours. This is the stage of labor when a mother pushes to help the baby come through the birth canal.
- Third stage: The placenta (afterbirth) passes through the birth canal and is delivered. This usually happens within 30 minutes after the birth of the baby.
Most normal vaginal deliveries stay 24-48 hours in the hospital before going home.