The Big Day: Different Ways to Give Birth
- It's the big day, and your baby is entering the world soon!
- Births happen everyday, and when the time comes, your delivery will be specific to you and your baby.
- No matter how you give birth, staying informed and empowered through it all is key to a positive birth experience!
The birth experience is different for everyone. One thing about birth IS certain – there is no one way to give birth! Here’s a breakdown of the different types of deliveries.
This is the most common way to give birth. Mothers who have vaginal deliveries will go through the three stages of labor and the pushing stage when the baby is delivered through the birth canal. Usually, vaginal birth is the best method for mothers without any health complications. Vaginal births can take place in a variety of places and can include different types of medical interventions and pain management techniques.
Vaginal delivery is considered a natural birth when the mother doesn’t use medication for pain management and doesn’t need medical assistance. Natural pain management techniques include deep breathing, warm baths, massages, doula support, and using a birthing ball. Natural births can take place in a hospital, birthing center, at home, or wherever baby chooses!
Medicated Vaginal Birth
A medicated vaginal birth is when a mother uses medication for pain management or assistance methods are used during delivery.
The most common form of medicated pain management is the epidural. An epidural is administered through a tube in the spine to numb the bottom half of the mother’s body in order to allow her to labor without pain while remaining alert. Other medications used for pain management include opioids or nitrous oxide.
Sometimes, a baby needs a little help moving through the birth canal.
- Episiotomy: A surgical incision made in the area between the vagina and the anus to allow more room for a baby’s head to pass through. Most mothers won’t need this.
- Amniotomy: This is often referred to as “breaking the water.” Sometimes a provider may artificially rupture the amniotic sac in order to start labor or to place an internal monitor.
- Induced labor: A provider can medically induce labor with a drug called Pitocin or other non-medicated methods. Medical reasons your provider may recommend an induction may include diabetes, high blood pressure, concerns about a baby’s size or health or going past your due date.
Cesarean (C-Section) Delivery
A C-section is a surgical birth in which an incision is made to remove the baby through the abdomen. There are various reasons that a scheduled C-section may be the best choice for you and your baby.
- A multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc.)
- High-risk health complications
- Placenta Previa: a condition where the placenta is attached too low in the uterus and blocks the cervix where a baby should exit.
- Baby’s position: If a baby is in a horizontal or feet first position a C-section may be needed.
- A previous C-section: Often, it is safest for women who have had previous C-sections to have another C-section due to a possible risk of rupturing the uterus. However, some women are good candidates for a vaginal birth after C-section, or a VBAC. Your provider can help you decide which option is safest for you.
Occasionally, an unplanned C-section is needed. Some reasons for this include:
- Labor stalls or doesn’t progress
- Issues with the umbilical cord such as it being looped around the baby’s neck or if it comes out of the cervix before the baby
- The mother or baby is undergoing too much stress during labor, such as a high or low heartbeat.
What Can I Do Right Now?
We know that’s a lot of information to take in and all the unknowns can be overwhelming! But there are steps you can take to prepare for a positive birth experience.
- Find a provider that you trust and feel comfortable with.
- Take a birth education class, like P&I’s online class.
- Make a birth plan so you feel that your birth is in your hands.
- Work with a doula.
- Talk with your provider about what kind of birth you want and any worries or questions you have.
Remember, there is no wrong way to give birth. Every mother will have her own unique experience and whatever birth you have, planned or unexpected, is the right one for you!