Learn more about the different types of childbirth and delivery methods available to expectant mothers
Vaginal birth is delivering a baby through the birth canal. Many pregnant women in most parts of the world have a number of different options when choosing which setting they would like to give birth. A baby’s due date is an estimate of when a baby is likely to be born, but most women give birth at around 38 - 41 weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes medical intervention may be needed to assist with the birth. However, a vaginal delivery does not involve surgery.
Benefits of vaginal delivery:
- You’ll avoid the risks of major surgery
- Reduced need for strong pain relief after birth
- Shorter hospital stays
- Quicker recovery
- Reduced chance of medical problems in future pregnancies
Caesarean Section (C-Section)
A caesarean section or C-section is an operation to deliver a baby through a surgical incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. As a caesarean is a major operation, they are usually only done if it is the safest option for mother and baby. They can be planned (elective) if recommended or carried out in an emergency if a vaginal delivery is thought to be too risky.
Why might a C-Section be required?
There are a number of reasons why a caesarean is required, such as:
- Multiple pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc)
- Previous C-Section or other conditions
- Baby is breech (bottom first) or transverse (sideways) position
- A large baby
- Fibroid or other large obstruction
- Placenta previa (placenta is low in the uterus and covers the cervix)
Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC)
Vaginal Birth after Caesarean (VBAC) is when a pregnant woman gives birth vaginally having had a caesarean previously. An estimated 75% of women who try VBAC have a successful vaginal delivery.
Sometimes a pregnancy complication or a condition prevents a successful VBAC and many hospitals do not offer a VBAC if they do not have the resources or staff to deal with emergency C-sections.
There are a number of risk factors to consider when thinking about a VBAC delivery:
- If you have never had a vaginal birth
- If you are overweight (BMI over 30)
- Did not make progress in labour and needed a caesarean birth previously
An assisted birth is when forceps or a ventouse cup are used to help deliver a baby, and happens in about one in eight births.
Why might I need an assisted birth?
- you're too exhausted
- baby is in an awkward position
- baby's heart rate is causing concern
What happens during a forceps or ventouse delivery?
Forceps and ventouse are safe ways to deliver a baby, but there are some risks that should be discussed with you.
A Forceps delivery is sometimes needed to help assist with vaginal childbirth. Forceps are smooth metal instruments shaped like a pair of large spoons or tongs. They are carefully applied to baby’s head to help guide the baby out of the birth canal. Your midwife will gently pull to help deliver your baby, with the help of your pushing and contractions.
Ventouse (Vacuum Extraction)
A ventouse (vacuum extraction) is a procedure sometimes needed to assist with vaginal childbirth. A vacuum extractor is a soft or rigid cup attached by a tube to a vacuum pump which fits firmly onto your baby’s head to help guide the baby out of the birth canal. With the help of your pushing, a midwife will gently pull to help delivery baby during a contraction.