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Ready, Set, Parent: Labor and Delivery Options

By Don Cook

What are different labor and delivery options?

There are many different options when it comes to giving birth. The most common tend to be home birth, hospital birth, natural childbirth, childbirth using an epidural, cesarean section (C-section), and a water birth delivery. 

Home Birth

People may choose to have their baby in the comfort of their home as it provides more control over childbirth. Having a home birth can be great for someone who is healthy, with no health risks and can have a normal pregnancy. Most people who choose to deliver their child at home will work with a midwife, which is a healthcare provider who deals with pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care and postpartum health. Midwives tend to be more holistic and supportive of natural approaches to pregnancy and birth. People often choose a midwife when they know they want a nonmedicated birth or want to give birth at home.

Hospital Birth

Hospital childbirth is the most common method of childbirth. The vast majority of births in the U.S. are done in a hospital. For those with a high-risk pregnancy or those at risk for any possible complications, a hospital is the safest place to deliver a baby. The hospital can provide access to any possibly needed medications or in the event of an emergency, trained medical staff that can assist immediately. Hospitals have now designed their delivery rooms to be more of a luxurious, and relaxing experience to make it as comfortable as possible for mothers and their families. 

Natural Childbirth

When people refer to “natural childbirth”, they’re often referring specifically to giving birth with the use of little to no pain medication. Natural birth means that labor starts on its own, rather than inducing it and letting the process run its course with minimal intervention. Simply put, natural birth is about giving birth at your body’s pace. It is said that natural childbirth techniques are not invasive, so there’s little potential for harm or side effects for you or your baby. 

Epidural with Childbirth

An epidural is a type of anesthesia, administered in the lower back, which numbs the nerves from the waist down and is one of the most common pain medications used during childbirth. The biggest benefit of an epidural is pain relief during labor and through delivery. After the 10 to 20 minutes needed for an epidural to take effect, many individuals find that an epidural provides them with an easier, less stressful birth experience. An epidural is said to be the most common, used by an estimated 70 to 75 percent of women during childbirth, according to Yale Medicine. 

Cesarean Section (C-section)

A cesarean section or C-section birthing option is the delivery of a baby through a surgical incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. Sometimes a C-section is scheduled in advance; other times, it’s done in response to an unforeseen complication. A C-section birth is often done for multiple babies (twins, triplets, etc.) or a large baby. It’s also done if the baby is in breech (bottom first) or transverse (sideways) position. There could be other medical reasons to perform a cesarean birth to protect the mother’s or baby’s health. C-section deliveries are said to be fairly common, according to WebMD, and make up for about 30 percent of all babies in the U.S.

Water Birth Delivery

During a water birth delivery, the mother labors in a tub of water similar to a hot tub. This method offers the mother the option of relaxing in warm water and feeling the buoyancy and freedom of movement during and between contractions. The baby can be delivered underwater, or the mother can get out of the water and deliver in a different position. This method of childbirth can be performed in hospitals, birthing centers and at home. It’s not a common method as it’s said that only 11 percent of women who delivered did so in water, according to the National Institutes of Health.

No matter which method is chosen to deliver a baby, understand that it is an individual journey. Moms are reminded to always choose the method that works best for them and that will make them feel the most comfortable. It is an experience to be enjoyed, and be as present in the moment as possible. As long as the parents and baby are safe and healthy, that is all that matters. 

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