Skip to main content

Types of Birth

A vaginal birth is usually the safest and best option for both you and your baby. However sometimes medical concerns arise that mean a different way of giving birth is needed.

While this may not be what you had planned, you can improve your experience by learning about your birth options in advance so you understand what is going to happen. Talk to your doctor or midwife for more information.

Spontaneous vaginal

Spontaneous vaginal birth

A spontaneous vaginal birth relies on your body’s ability to labour and deliver your baby. Your contractions will increase as your cervix opens, and then you push your baby out through your vaginal canal.

Benefits of spontaneous vaginal birth

Compared to all other types of delivery, vaginal delivery has:
  • less risk of injury and infection;
  • shorter hospital stay;
  • faster and less painful recovery;
  • no complications from surgery
  • less risk of breathing difficulties for your baby.

Risks of spontaneous vaginal birth

While vaginal delivery is a normal process, some risks include:
  • vaginal tearing during birth;
  • tearing between your vagina and anus (perineum) which may require stitches;
  • temporary problems with bladder or bowel control;
  • short-term pain during sex.

Pain relief options during spontaneous vaginal birth

There are many comfort measures and medication-based pain management options you can chose for vaginal birth. These include:
  • movement 
  • massage
  • bath/shower
  • TENS machine
  • nitrous oxide (laughing gas)
  • sterile water injections
  • morphine
  • fentanyl
  • epidural
 


Assisted vaginal

Vacuum assisted vaginal birth

A vacuum extractor is a soft cup placed on your baby's head that helps guide your baby out as you push. A vacuum can be used during the pushing stage of labour (second stage) when your baby is low in your pelvis. Your maternity care provider may suggest this when your delivery is not progressing during pushing or when your baby needs to be delivered quickly due to health concerns.

The use of a vacuum to assist with vaginal birth is safe and can help you avoid having a caesarean section.

Benefits of a vacuum assisted vaginal birth

Compared to a caesarean section, a vacuum assisted birth offers:
  • less risk of injury and infection;
  • shorter hospital stay;
  • faster, less painful recovery;
  • less blood loss;
  • no complications from surgery;
  • less risk of breathing difficulties for baby.

Risks of a vacuum assisted vaginal birth

For baby, compared to a spontaneous vaginal birth, a vacuum assisted birth has increased risks of:
  • short-term marking or bruising to baby’s head;
  • jaundice (yellowing of skiskin and eyes) due to breakdown of red blood cells from bruising;
  • more complicated injuries are very uncommon.

For you, compared to a spontaneous vaginal birth, a vacuum assisted birth has increased risks of:

  • vaginal tearing or small cut (episiotomy) that may require stitches
  • injury to the muscle around the rectum (bowel);
  • temporary problems with bladder or bowel control
  • short-term pain during sex.

‎Pain relief options for vacuum assisted vaginal birth

If you have a vacuum-assisted birth, you may receive pain medication such as:
  • nitrous oxide
  • fentanyl;
  • epidural;
  • combined spinal-epidural.

Forceps assisted Vaginal Birth

Forceps are slim, tong-like instruments placed inside your vagina on either side of your baby's head to gently pull your baby out as you push. Forceps can be used during the pushing stage of labour (second stage) when your delivery is not progressing or when your baby needs to be delivered quickly due to health concerns.

Forceps-assisted births are performed by an obstetrician as it requires specialized training to use them. Forceps are safe in the hands of an experienced care provider and can help you avoid having a caesarean section. Your primary maternity care provider will stay with you during a forceps-assisted birth.

Benefits of a Forceps Assisted Vaginal Birth

Compared to a caesarean section, a forceps assisted birth offers:

  • less risk of injury and infection;
  • shorter hospital stay;
  • faster, less painful recovery;
  • less blood loss;
  • no complications from surgery;
  • less risk of breathing difficulties in baby.

Risks of a Forceps Assisted Vaginal Birth

For baby, compared to a spontaneous vaginal birth, a forceps assisted birth has increased risks of:

  • short-term marking or bruising to baby’s cheeks;
  • more complicated injuries are uncommon.

For you, compared to a spontaneous vaginal birth, a forceps assisted birth has increased risks of: 

  • vaginal tearing or small cut (episiotomy) which may require stitches; 
  • injury to the muscle around the rectum (bowel);
  • temporary problems with bladder or bowel control; 
  • short-term pain during sex.
 

Pain Relief Options for Forceps assisted Vaginal Birth

If you have a forceps-assisted birth, you may receive pain medication such as an:

  • epidural;
  • combined spinal-epidural;
  • pudendal block.
 

Caesarean birth

Caesarean birth

A caesarean section (c-section) is a surgical procedure where the baby is delivered through a cut made in a your lower abdomen. Once the baby is delivered, your uterus will be closed with stitches that dissolve and your skin closed with stitches or staples.

A caesarean birth may be the best option if there are medical concerns for you or your baby. If you have a caesarean birth, you can usually choose to have a vaginal birth in your next pregnancy.

Benefits of a Caesarean Section

  • reduced risk of urinary and fecal incontinence;
  • avoidance of labour pain
  • reduced risk of complications that come with vaginal labour and birth.

Risks of a Caesarean Section

For baby:
  • short-term breathing difficulties;
  • short-term breastfeeding difficulties.
For you:
  • longer recovery;
  • increased bleeding; 
  • injury to bladder or bowels;
  • wound infection;
  • increased pain;
  • more serious complications or injuries are rare.

Pain Relief Options for a Caesarean Section

You will receive a spinal anaesthetic to numb your lower body only. If you already have an epidural in place, more medication will be given to you to make your lower body completely numb. You will remain awake while your baby is born. There are rare circumstances that may require you to have a general anesthetic that will put you to sleep for the c-section.
Tab Heading

SOURCE: Types of Birth ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Women's Hospital. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2018 Provincial Health Services Authority.