Expecting mothers have a lot of decisions to make. But one of the most important choices ahead is the kind of birth you want to have. Some women choose to give birth at home with no medications. Others rush to the hospital and happily receive an epidural.
Where and how you give birth depends on your health, the health of your baby, and what makes you most comfortable. Make an informed and confident decision about your labor with this guide on what you need to know about the different types of birth.
Vaginal Birth vs. Cesarean Section
There are two main forms of birth: vaginal birth and C-section. During vaginal birth, the baby comes out through the birth canal. Vaginal births usually mean shorter hospital stays, lower rates of infection, and faster recovery. Many medical professionals recommend women have vaginal births unless there’s a medical reason to perform a C-section.
Vaginal birth isn’t always possible. That’s where cesarean sections, or C-sections, come in. A C-section is a surgical procedure in which doctors deliver the baby through an incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. C-sections can make labor easier when you’re giving birth to multiples, when you’ve had past uterine surgeries or conditions, or if an issue occurs during labor (such as the baby moving sideways or upside down).
Different Birthing Locations
Mothers have a few options when deciding where to give birth. While hospitals are the most common choice, you can also give birth at home or a dedicated birthing center. The location you choose depends on your preferences and your pregnancy experience. If complications arise, such as the need for a C-section, you’ll have to be at a hospital. However, vaginal births can happen in homes or birthing centers.
Birthing centers create a more home-like environment within a facility that has plenty of midwives, doulas, and resources to help mothers through labor. For home births, any professionals you choose come to you and help you give birth naturally in the comfort of your home.
Birthing centers and home births make it easier for mothers to have anyone they want present at the birth. They also allow for more active birth activities, such as walking or using a birthing ball. If you choose a natural birth, you can also have a water birth at home or a birthing center.
Natural Births or Medication?
Another significant part of what you need to know about the different types of birth is whether you want or need medication. Some women choose a completely natural delivery with no painkillers whatsoever. Others want opioids, an epidural, or other medication to ease the pain of contractions and make labor more comfortable. If you choose to have a natural birth, certain practices like breathing techniques or water births can help relax the body and reduce the pain of contractions.
No matter how you want to give birth, knowing more about your options helps you make the right decision for you, your baby, and your growing family.