Birthing Options

There are two types of birthing options available to a woman: vaginal or Caesarean, also referred to as a “C-section.” The type of birth a woman has is determined by her medical condition and/or pregnancy history.

If a woman has a high-risk pregnancy or her healthcare provider believes she could have complications during labor and delivery, they may recommend a Caesarean birth. Because it is a major surgical procedure, if there is not a specific reason why a woman needs a C-section, a vaginal birth is almost always recommended. The majority of babies born in the U.S. are born vaginally.

It’s also important remember to remain flexible. If something does need to change, know that the goal of your gynecologist and obstetrician is to ensure you and your baby are as safe and healthy as possible.

After the Birth 

The typical length of a hospital stay for a woman following a vaginal delivery is between 24 and 48 hours, although this can vary. If a woman is feeling up to it, she may be able to leave the hospital sooner.

Pros of Vaginal Birth

  • You will have more early contact with your baby 
  • You can begin breastfeeding sooner
  • Your baby will be less likely to suffer breathing problems at birth
  • Your baby will receive an early dose of good bacteria as they travel through the birth canal. This can help boost your baby’s immune system. 

Cons of Vaginal Birth

  • Skin and tissues around the vagina can stretch and tear 
  • You may need stitches 
  • It may weaken or injure your pelvic muscles 
  • You are more likely to have problems with your bowels or urinary incontinence than women who have had C-sections.
  • If you have a long labor or your baby is large, your baby could be injured. Examples of injuries include a bruised scalp or a fractured collarbone

Caesarean Section

A Caesarean section or “C-section” is a surgical method of childbirth. During a C-section, the gynecologist makes an incision through the abdomen and into the uterus and removes the baby.

If you are at risk of complications or birth defects, are giving birth to multiple babies or have a health condition that could lead to a problem during a vaginal birth, your gynecologist or healthcare provider may recommend a Caesarean section. Examples of health conditions that might contribute to you needing a C-section include:

  • HIV or herpes
  • Problems with the placenta
  • Infection
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Other possible reasons for having a C-section include:

  • Delivering a very large baby
  • Having a small pelvis
  • If the baby is not in a heads-down position and the baby cannot be repositioned
  • Having a previous C section

Pros of Caesarean Birth

  • Can be scheduled in advance

Cons of Caesarean Birth

  • Longer hospital stay, longer recovery
  • Pain from the incision
  • Increased risk of blood loss or clot
  • Greater risk of infection
  • Bowel or bladder injuries
  • Less likely to begin early breastfeeding
  • Greater risk of future pregnancy complications
  • Baby is more likely to have breathing problems
  • Greater risk for stillbirth