What Happens When a Woman Gives Birth?


Quick Answer

During childbirth, a woman experiences contractions while her cervix thins out and widens to accommodate the infant's head, BabyCenter states. At around 10 centimeters of dilation, uterine contractions are strong enough to guide the baby into the pelvis. The baby descends faster once the mother feels the urge to push, helping the head exit the birth canal. Breathing techniques help slow the pushing motion to prevent tearing of the lining separating the vagina and anus.

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Full Answer

After the head emerges, a doctor or nurse typically checks the position of the umbilical cord to make sure it isn't around the baby's neck, according to BabyCenter. Next, the baby rotates to enable his shoulders and body to slide out more easily, and the doctor or a family member cuts the umbilical cord. After childbirth, a woman's uterus contracts again to help the placenta detach from the uterine wall and exit the body. The uterus continues contracting to trigger the collapse and closure of open blood vessels, preventing excessive bleeding.

If the baby has difficulty pushing out of the birth canal during the crowning phase, the doctor may make an incision, called an episiotomy, to widen the vaginal opening, WomensHealth.gov explains. The doctor can repair this incision or any tears after the delivery.

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