Childbirth Health News

Childbirth is the process by which a pregnant woman delivers her baby into the world. The process begins with the baby moving lower into the pelvis and the beginning of contractions, or waves of pain that signal the start of labor. The cervix thins and opens up, and often the mucus plug that is blocking the cervix falls out. Amniotic fluid will begin to leak out, either in a gush or a slow trickle. These steps happen in different ways for different women, but they signal that the baby is ready to be born.

Labor has three stages: The first is the longest stage, and it involves the cervix fully opening to allow the baby to pass through. This might take many hours to occur. The second stage involves pushing and delivering the baby, and the third stage involves delivery of the placenta.

Childbirth Options

Childbirth varies from woman to woman, but it is almost always quite painful. Some women choose natural methods of childbirth, opting for natural means of coping with the challenges of labor and delivery. There are classes available to help with this process. In addition, there are also medical methods available for managing the pain during childbirth, including an epidural, which is a type of regional anesthetic that blocks the pain during labor.

In certain situations, such as when the baby is growing too slowly or the mother has a health complications, a health care provider might induce labor to begin the process of childbirth. Another birthing option that’s sometimes used in the event of complications is a cesarean delivery, often called a c-section. This is a major surgery in which the baby is removed through the mother’s abdomen.

Risks and Complications

Aside from the pain, which is a normal part of childbirth, a number of complications can occur during labor. For example, the water may break without labor beginning, or the mother can develop high blood pressure (preeclampsia). In such situations, inducing labor may be warranted. Sometimes, the baby may be in the wrong position, be showing distress or have problems with the location of the umbilical cord or the placenta. In those situations, health care providers might elect to perform a cesarean delivery.

SOURCES: U.S. Office on Women's Health

Date Posted
Article Title
Repeat Teen Births Still a Problem in United States: CDC

Too few teens use the most effective birth control after having a first baby

Far Fewer Kids Are Dying Worldwide, but Gains Are Uneven

While study found great progress, problems persist in South Asia and parts of Africa

Health Risks Grow as Young People Born With HIV Age

About 10,000 Americans were infected at birth, and many are now young adults with medical issues, study finds

Study: Plenty of IV Fluids May Make Childbirth Safer, Easier

Review found it lowered risk of cesarean delivery, shortened labor

Can Supplements Ward Off the 'Baby Blues'?

Researchers look to nutrients to offset temporary brain-chemical changes in new mothers

Obesity in Pregnancy Tied to Cerebral Palsy Risk in Kids

But study authors stress that a cause-and-effect link wasn't proven

Delay in Clamping Umbilical Cord Benefits Babies, Doctors Say

New guideline follows research showing that waiting 30 to 60 seconds boosts iron levels throughout 1st year

Used Safely, Donor Breast Milk Can Help Preemie Babies

But pediatricians' group warns against informal 'milk-sharing' or buying it online

Do Women Who Have Kids Later Live Longer?

Those who give birth at age 25 or older more likely to live to 90, study suggests

Could C-Section Birth Raise Child's Risk of Obesity?

Study suggests passage through birth canal confers protective gut bacteria to newborns

Premature Calcium Deposits May Trigger Premature Births

Mother's water can break too soon, researchers report

Common Vaccine Safe for Mother, Fetus

Finding should reassure women who get Tdap shot to help protect their infant against whooping cough

DNA May Influence Your Reproductive Decisions

Age of first childbirth involves more than just personal choice, study suggests

Birthing Pool Not the Place to Deliver, New Guidelines Say

Immersion may help during early labor, but poses risks during delivery, ob-gyns advise

'Laughing Gas' May Not Ease Pain During Childbirth: Study

Nitrous oxide gaining interest among expectant mothers in the United States, researchers report

Expecting Twins or Triplets? What You Should Know Before They Arrive

They're double or triple the fun -- and the work -- but having a game plan helps, pediatricians say

More U.S. Women Hope for Motherhood, With 2 Kids Ideal

Federal report finds half of those under 45 expect to have a child

Prenatal Factors May Raise Child's Risk for OCD

Smoking and C-sections appear to boost the odds for the psychiatric disorder, study suggests

C-Section Raises Risk of Blood Clots After Childbirth: Review

Chances highest among those getting emergency cesareans

2nd Antibiotic Halves C-Section Infection Rate: Study

Two medications are better than one, researchers say

U.S. Teen Births Hit Another Record Low: CDC

Less sex, more contraception is the 'magic' formula, experts say

1st Baby Born With DNA From 3 Parents

Technique designed to help couples who carry rare genetic mutations

Know Your Risk for Ovarian Cancer -- and the Symptoms

Because early signs are often easy to ignore, 140,000 women worldwide die of the disease every year

Steroid Treatments May Boost Preemies' Risk of Eye Problems

Babies with very low birth weights are often given steroids to improve lung function

New Moms' Hair Loss Usually Temporary, Expert Says

Blame falling estrogen levels, and use these expert tips to conceal post-partum shedding

Celiac Disease Risk May Be Tied to Time, Place of Birth

Swedish study finds lower risk of the digestive disorder in babies born in winter or cooler climates

Put Birth Control in Place Right After Childbirth

Placement of IUD, contraceptive implant after delivery helps prevent accidental pregnancy, doctors advise

If 1st Baby's Early, 2nd Will Be Too: Study

Chances just as high for women who go into labor naturally as those who are induced

Boost Minimum Wage and Babies Benefit: Study

Suggests a $1 increase linked to 4 percent drop in infant deaths, fewer low birth weight babies

Antibiotics, Formula Feeding Might Change Baby's 'Microbiome'

C-section birth may also diminish diversity of these colonies of helpful microbes, study shows

Upside of Late Delivery: Possible Brain Boost?

Researchers find higher test scores during school years, but also risk of physical disabilities

Prior C-Section Raises Risk of Complications With Home Birth

Experts point to lack of constant fetal monitoring, inability to perform emergency delivery if needed

Teen Birth Rate at Record Low in U.S.

They're delaying sex, using more effective birth control, CDC researcher says

Fewer Children May Explain Why More Women Now Outlive Men

As number of births started to decline century ago, females began living longer than males, researchers suggest

Female Pelvis Widens, Then Shrinks Over a Lifetime, Study Finds

Timing of shifts, at puberty and menopause, suggest that estrogen is steering changes, researcher says

Have Scientists Found 'Virginity Genes'?

Study suggests link between timing of first sex, first baby and DNA

Flu Shot Might Cut Stillbirth Risk

Australian researchers find possible link in large-scale study

Preterm Births Tied to Smog Cost U.S. Billions

Researchers estimate toll of dirty air that triggers early birth can exceed $4 billion a year

More U.S. Women Delivering Babies at Home or Birth Centers

Most tended to be low-risk pregnancies and Pacific Northwest saw greatest increase, study finds

Inducing Labor May Not Boost C-Section Risk

Study also found that prompting delivery in 39th week did not affect health of baby or mother

Study Finds Shortage of Surgeries in World's Poorest Countries

Report reveals 'huge disparities' around the globe

Urinary Incontinence Risk Rises Slightly After Vaginal Birth, Study Finds

But the risks that come with an elective C-section must be considered as well, experts say

Prenatal Use of HIV Drug May Slow Child's Development Slightly

Small language delays seen in babies after mothers took atazanavir to prevent transmission of virus

More Hospitals Offer Donor Breast Milk to Help Preemie Babies

Practice may boost breast-feeding, reduce dangerous gut infections, study says

Millions of Pregnant Women Put Their Babies at Risk With Alcohol: CDC

Birth defects caused by drinking are totally preventable, agency officials say

Could C-Section Baby Benefit From Mom's Vaginal Fluids?

Small study suggests it's possible to partially restore good bacteria to cesarean infants

Mistakes During Delivery Rarely Cause Newborn Brain Damage, Study Contends

Findings suggest closer scrutiny needed during the 2 hours following birth

Rate of Severe Stomach Birth Defect Increased Over Two Decades: CDC

Gastroschisis, a hole in the abdominal wall, more common in babies born to teen mothers

Obesity Before Pregnancy Tied to Raised Risk of Newborn Death

Infant deaths related to premature delivery are doubled in obese women, researchers say

Stillbirths Still Too Common Worldwide

Nearly 7,200 deaths occur each day, research shows