Most people see a childbirth video two times in their life: once during sexual health class in middle school, and another time when they’re a soon-to-be parent. Two very different viewing experiences. While you may have shielded your eyes in naïve embarrassment or horror when you were a mere tween, you most likely have your eyes dutifully glued to the screen if you’re expecting to pop out your own baby in the coming weeks. Either way, birth videos should be required viewing for parents-to-be. And not just a video of the birth you plan to have — whether it’s a C-section, vaginal birth, unmedicated birth, or home birth — but also the one that may unfold if plans need to change, which they often do.
Viewing a string of childbirth videos is certainly not the same as a casual Netflix binge. But doing so will educate you about various procedures that could come into play during your own childbirth experience and help you feel as well-prepared as possible going in to the birth of your baby.
Live birth videos are unlike most Hollywood depictions or medical explanations of birth. Childbirth videos keep it real. They offer an uncensored view of what it’s really like to be in the delivery room, as if you’re right there with them. They provide details about who does what during birth, how long it may take from the first contraction to the last push, and some of the complications that may arise.
These real childbirth videos offer clarity about, for instance, the role of nurses, doulas, and midwives, how much pain relief a hot bath actually provides, and how long a C-section normally takes. With so many fears centered around the unknown, watching childbirth videos can help parents visualize and prepare for the big day.
We’ve collected some of the best childbirth videos, featuring hospital births, home births, C-section births, vaginal births, natural births, water births, and more. Some feature voiceovers from doctors that walk viewers through the steps of delivery. Others simply show the particulars of a baby being born. All offer clarity on the subject. Take a look.
A Planned Unmedicated Hospital Birth Video
In this live birth video, a mother delivers her third child without an epidural in a hospital, a type of delivery that is relatively uncommon. This childbirth video begins at home, where you see the mother’s labor and track her contractions. It follows her to the hospital, where the entire process from triage to delivery and even recovery are chronicled. The video ends with the doctor explaining all of her decisions.
A Forceps-Assisted Vaginal Delivery Birth Video
Forceps can come into play when a vaginal delivery reaches the pushing stage and progress isn’t being made, or the health of parent or baby is in danger. The tong-like instrument helps guide the baby out of the birth canal. This video details the process, showing a first-time mom with long labor who has trouble dilating. While she’s pushing, the baby’s heart rate drops. Because the baby is in danger, the doctor performs an episiotomy, making a surgical incision in the vagina, and pulls the baby out with forceps.
An Unmedicated Home Water Birth Video
Although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says being submerged in water during the early stages of labor might reduce the length of labor, giving birth in water hasn’t been well-researched and should be considered experimental. If you’re thinking about a home water birth, this video — where a mother labors at home with the assistance of a midwife — provides a good idea of its pros and cons.
An Induction Turned C-Section Childbirth Video
In this video, a mom goes into the hospital to be induced for pregnancy and ends up having a C-section. You see the mom receiving Pitocin, the drug that’s used to kickstart labor, then take a break from the Pitocin as the baby’s heart rate drops. Though it wasn’t planned, it wasn’t an emergency C-section, so the atmosphere is relatively calm.
A Medicated Vaginal Hospital Birth Video
In this video, an OBGYN provides medical context to a video of a medicated vaginal hospital birth of a couple’s first child. It’s a great introduction to medicated vaginal hospital birth, as Dr. Danielle Jones explains why those in labor are taken to triage before they’re admitted, why patients have to lean over during an epidural, what practice pushes are for, and why those in labor sometimes throw up. This particular video, in which the first-time labor progressed fairly quickly, shows firsthand what it’s like to wait for dilation when mothers opt for an epidural and aren’t in pain.
A Scheduled C-Section Childbirth Video
About 30% of babies born in the U.S. are born via C-section. Although sometimes emergency C-sections need to be performed for the immediate health of the baby or pregnant person, it’s not always the case. Some, like this one, are scheduled. And other times, doctors and patients decide a C-section is the best option mid-labor.
An Unplanned, Unmedicated Hospital Birth Video
This is an example of an unmedicated birth in which labor progressed quickly, and mom got to the hospital too late to get an epidural. This can happen if the pregnant person arrives at the hospital fully dilated and ready to push. Because an epidural can take a half-hour to take effect (assuming the anesthesiologist is available immediately), in some cases it’s quicker to give birth than to wait. This video is hard to watch, but it illustrates how fast labor can progress in parents who have given birth before.
A Surrogate Childbirth Video
For parents who aren’t able to or choose not to get pregnant themselves, surrogates provide an opportunity to have a child that is genetically related to them. Surrogates are hired by parents to get pregnant through insemination or IVF, and they give birth to the baby but do not raise the baby as a parent. In this vaginal birth video, you see a woman laboring and eventually delivering a baby.
A Vaginal Twin Childbirth Video
Though vaginal births of twins are rare — about 75% of twins born in the U.S. are delivered via C-section — twins can safely be delivered vaginally in some cases. Here, a mom with preeclampsia receives an epidural, the doctor breaks her water, and then she is given oxygen. Mom is soon taken to the delivery room and delivers the first twin with just a few grunts and no screaming, then births the second twin shortly after.
A Vaginal Home Water Birth Video
In this home birth video, a woman completes a water birth after being in labor for 26 hours. The father supports his wife physically and emotionally throughout the process with the help of their doula. The baby gets caught up on the mother’s cervical lip, meaning that when the mom is almost fully dilated, part of the baby is still stuck on a portion of the cervix. To make delivery easier, the baby needs to move out from the cervical lip before the woman begins pushing. Throughout labor, the woman moves in and out of the bath tub, then gives birth in the water, and the father catches the baby.
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