15 Birth Videos That Offer An Uncensored Look At Delivering A Baby
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. Although you may have shielded your eyes in naïve embarrassment or horror at a live birth video 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, birthing videos should be required viewing for parents-to-be — and not just a full birth video of the birth you plan to have, but also the one that may unfold if plans need to change, which they often do. That’s why it can be useful to watch a vaginal birth video, natural childbirth video, C-section birth video, and so many more.
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.
“Having witnessed a birth helps set realistic expectations,” says Alex Juusela, M.D., a maternal-fetal medicine fellow at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. It can help you manage your stress on the big day, too. “After witnessing the baby deliver, a gush of amniotic fluid, bleeding after delivery, or the placenta deliver, occasionally a partner or family member faints. Being prepared for what delivery looks like can help prepare expecting parents for what’s to come.”
Live birth videos are unlike most Hollywood depictions or medical explanations of birth — they 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 childbirth, 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.
“Labor and delivery, like most things in life, don’t always go as planned,” Juusela says. With so many fears centered around the unknown, watching childbirth videos can help parents visualize and get ready for the big day. Although unexpected moments and emergencies can occur, being prepared can make a world of difference. “The more informed patients and significant others are before delivery, the more they can understand and partake in the process — hopefully with less anxiety and fear.”
We’ve collected some of the best birthing 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.
Although this mother made a planned decision to avoid pain relief medications, Juusela notes that expecting parents shouldn’t feel pressured to do the same. “It is important to know that pain relief is an essential part of medical care during childbirth,” he says. “Average subjective pain scores during labor have been demonstrated to be higher than those associated with dental pain, sciatica, or bone fractures.”
A Forceps-Assisted Vaginal Delivery Birth Video
This video details the process of a forceps-assisted delivery, showing a first-time mom with long labor who has trouble dilating. “Forceps, a medical tool, are used to help guide the baby out of the birth canal,” says OBGYN Rakhee Patel, M.D. “They’re used when the labor isn’t progressing or if the baby is showing signs of distress.”
While mom is 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
In this video, we seeing “a birth that occurs at home, without pain relief medications, and involves the mother laboring and delivering in a pool of warm water,” says Patel. 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 medication as the baby’s heart rate drops.
“The induction process is not instantaneous,” says Juusola. “Depending on your particular circumstances and method used to induce your labor, it may take 6, 12, 24, or more hours from the start of induction to delivery.”
Because her labor wasn’t progressing as quickly as they’d hoped, the mom ends up having a C-section. Though it wasn’t planned, it wasn’t an emergency C-section, so the atmosphere is relatively calm.
A Medicated Vaginal Hospital Giving 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 Danielle Jones, M.D., 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 progresses fairly quickly, shows firsthand what it’s like to wait for dilation when mothers opt for an epidural and aren’t in pain. “It’s a myth that having pain medications during labor is ‘less natural,’” Juusela adds. “It doesn’t make someone less of a woman, it does not increase the likelihood of a Cesarean delivery, it does not cause long-term harmful effects to your baby or their childhood development, and routine epidurals do not cause long-term lower back pain.”
A Scheduled C-Section Childbirth Video
“A scheduled C-section is a cesarean delivery that is planned and scheduled in advance, often due to medical reasons,” says Patel. 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 during labor.
An Unplanned, Unmedicated Hospital Birth Video
“This shows a situation where a mother goes into labor and delivers without pain medication, in a hospital setting, without prior planning for an unmedicated birth,” says Patel. Although she didn’t necessarily plan to have an unmedicated birth, this is an example of when a quickly progressing labor means mom got to the hospital too late for an epidural. An epidural can take a half-hour to take effect — assuming the anesthesiologist is available immediately — so it’s sometimes 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
In this vaginal birth video, you see a woman laboring and eventually delivering a baby. 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. “The surrogate may be genetically related to the baby or may carry the pregnancy created with an egg from an egg donor,” says Patel. Although surrogates are often compensated by the parents, they sometimes carry a baby as an act of goodwill, which is known as altruistic surrogacy. People might choose to do this for family or close friends.
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. “Our goal as obstetricians is to achieve a vaginal delivery whenever safely possible, and this includes vaginal twin birth,” says Juusola.
In this video, 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.
“Twin births can be more complex and have higher risks than single births, often requiring careful medical supervision,” says Patel.
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.
A First-Child Delivery With Shoulder Dystocia Video
This video follows a young couple during the birth of their first baby. They head to the hospital for an induction, and although delivery is relatively smooth, the baby’s shoulder briefly gets stuck. This is a relatively common birth complication called shoulder dystocia.
“In this video, baby had a birth complication where, after the delivery of the head, one of the shoulders becomes lodged behind the mother’s pelvic bone, making it difficult to deliver the rest of the baby,” says Patel. “This type of complication requires immediate medical intervention.”
Once she’s fully dilated, the nurse encourages mom to lay sideways in order to try to guide the baby into the correct position. The issue is quickly sorted out, and the healthy baby is born.
An Unmedicated Birth In A Natural Birth Center Video
In this video, a woman has a planned unmedicated birth in a natural birth center. According to Patel, these centers are “often in a setting designed to provide a more home-like environment than a traditional hospital labor ward.”
The woman in this video is a second-time mom, so when she starts feeling contractions at home, she notes that she somewhat knows what to expect. After calling her birthing center, they encourage her to go in a bit early so she can walk around, relax, and wait for her labor to progress.
After trying both a birthing pool and several other positions, baby’s heart rate drops and an ambulance is called. Luckily, just a few minutes later, the baby is born. This video illustrates why it’s always important to have a backup plan and nearby hospital when giving birth at a natural birth center. Although the baby was born healthy and safe, being able to get emergency medical attention if necessary is key.
It’s important to note that birthing centers can have different requirements from hospitals. “For instance, a common requirement for laboring patients at hospital is to have intravenous access (an IV) in the case of an emergency or for administering medications,” says Juusela. “You should ask your practitioner questions about the birthing process at their institution prior to arriving in order to make the process as comfortable as possible.
A C-Section Quadruplet Delivery Video
This video shows a woman pregnant with quadruplets going to the hospital for a planned C-section. Patel explains that C-sections are commonly used for multiple births due to the higher risk of complications with a vaginal delivery.
As she was in her third trimester with quadruplets, the mom in this video explains that her doctors were monitoring her closely and had decided it was time to deliver because both her and the babies’ heart rates were elevated. Delivering early is very normal for quadruplets as the risk of dangerous complications goes up in the later stages of pregnancy.
In this video, all four babies are safely delivered via C-section. Afterward, they’re brought to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to be taken care of, and mom is kept overnight for monitoring.
“Higher order multiple births — like triplets and quadruplets — are more complicated because the rate of preterm birth is higher than single or twin pregnancies,” Juusela says. This means it’s harder to monitor the babies during labor, and the babies are more likely to deliver in non-optimal positions. “For these reasons, most obstetricians recommend C-Sections for higher-order multiple gestations.”
A Vaginal Birth After C-Section (VBAC) Video
In this video, we see a woman have a VBAC, or a vaginal birth after having a previous baby through C-section. Although Patel notes that this type of delivery does carry some risks, that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe.
“The phrase ‘once a C-section, always a C-section’ is outdated,” says Juusela. “When safety criteria are employed, a vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC) has fewer complications than a scheduled repeat C-section when performed in appropriate candidates.”
Once at the hospital, mom explains that she felt nervous because of how some doctors have expressed concern over a VBAC. Although she wants a vaginal birth, she says she knows in the back of her head that there’s a chance she may need another C-section. However, she’s confident in sticking with her plan, and what follows is a peaceful and positive birth experience. She’s guided to count through her pushes, and a short while later, she and her husband meet their baby girl.
A Premature Labor And Delivery Video
This video shows a premature delivery at 29 weeks. Mom explains that after going to the bathroom and feeling uncomfortable cramping, she noticed some blood and realized it was the start of her contractions.
Despite the fact that the baby was coming about 10 weeks early, both parents remain calm and positive throughout the video, and the nurses and doctors play a major role in keeping everyone grounded. Mom pushes through a straightforward labor, and afterward, the baby boy is taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for monitoring and support.
Babies born between 32 and 37 weeks are considered moderate to late preterm, and 32 to 28 are classed as very preterm. Typically, the earlier a baby is born, the more risk factors they’ll have. “Premature babies may face various health challenges and often require specialized care,” says Patel. Some of the possible complications to be aware of are issues with breathing, eating, and growth. Spending time in the NICU allows doctors to closely monitor baby’s condition and provide all the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.