Exploring the Different Types of Childbirth

Published: 08/09/2023

What are the different types of childbirth?

Childbirth is a transformative and deeply personal experience for expectant parents. While the end goal is the same – bringing a new life into the world – there are various ways in which childbirth can occur.  

Whilst there are many methods of delivery, it’s often hard to know which one will be necessary as childbirth can often be unpredictable. Nevertheless, it is important to talk through all options especially if you want a specific birth plan. The ultimate goal is the safe birth and delivery of your baby. 

What are the different methods of childbirth?

The different type of deliveries include: 

  • Vaginal delivery 
  • Assisted vaginal delivery. 
  • C- section 
  • Vaginal birth after caesarean

Vaginal Delivery:

A vaginal delivery is the safest and most common type of delivery, most medical professionals will recommend a vaginal delivery unless there is a medical reason for a caesarean (C-section). 

In a vaginal delivery, the baby is born through the vagina. A vaginal delivery happens between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. It includes three stages: Labour, the birth of the baby and then the birth of the placenta. 

A vaginal delivery can be spontaneous or induced:

  • Spontaneous vaginal delivery is when the women’s body goes into labour and contractions begin naturally. 
  • Induced vaginal delivery is when drugs/ other techniques are used to start labour and bring on contractions. An induced delivery or induction is normally recommended if you are past your due date or have a medical condition.

Benefits of vaginal delivery: 

  • Fast recovery 
  • Safest delivery 
  • Lower rate of infections 

Occasional during a vaginal delivery you may require an episiotomy. An episiotomy is a surgical incision made in your vagina to widen the opening and allow the baby’s head to come out, you will be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area before it is performed. 

Assisted vaginal delivery

An assisted vaginal delivery is when a doctor known as an obstetrician uses forceps or a vacuum device to assist the baby from coming out of your birth canal. Assisted deliveries occur when: 

  • Labour stops progressing 
  • The Baby is showing signs of distress. 
  • You have been pushing for a long time.
  • You are showing signs of fatigue and cannot continue pushing. 

The two common modes of assisted deliveries are forceps delivery and vacuum.

  • Forceps delivery uses a surgical tool that looks like tongs to grasp the baby’s head and guide the baby out of the birth canal (the vagina). 
  • Vacuum delivery is a small suction cup that is placed on the baby’s head. The cup is attached to a pump that pulls on the baby while you push.

Both modes of delivery require you as the mother to continue pushing to aid the delivery of your baby. 

Caesarean section (C-section) 

A caesarean section is when the doctor (obstetrician) delivers the baby through a surgical incision made in your abdomen and uterus. 

It may be recommended for you to have a caesarean section if you have: 

  • Had a previous c- section 
  • Are having multiple babies. 
  • Baby is in the breech position. 
  • You are having a large baby. 
  • You have a fibroid or obstruction causing the baby not to descend into the vaginal canal. 

Sometimes a c-section becomes necessary if: 

  • Baby is in distress. 
  • Labour isn’t progressing. 
  • There is excessive bleeding. 
  • The placenta ruptures. 
  • The cord is dangling inside the vaginal canal. 

Risks of C-section 

  • Infection 
  • Loss of blood 
  • Blood clots 
  • Injury to bowel and bladder 
  • Longer recovery and hospital stay. 

Although a C-section is a major surgery it does have its benefits such as lowering the risk of birth trauma and incontinence that can occur with vaginal births. 

Vaginal Birth after C-section

Ever heard of VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) you may be offered this if your first delivery was via a c-section. If your second pregnancy is low risk, then this may be offered to you. You will however need careful monitoring to make sure that the C-section scar from your first birth does not rupture during labour. 

Whichever your mode of delivery, the best decision is the one made for you and your baby at the time of birth. You will be guided by medical professionals but you also have a choice in how you want your baby brought into the world. 

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