Consider Your Birthing Options
Sometimes it may seem like there are just as many ways to labor and deliver your baby as there are babies. While it’s true you have options on how you labor and deliver, the choices don’t have to be confusing. Your health-care provider and our team of maternity experts can help you understand which choices are available to you, based on your needs and those of your baby, and help you express those wishes.
Let’s start with labor. This stage of your pregnancy occurs immediately before your baby is born, so knowing what to expect before this time arrives will help you prepare. Your labor and birthing options will always depend on your medical needs and preferences, and the health of your baby. Our first priority is to deliver a healthy baby and ensure a healthy mom.
The labor process is the body’s way to prepare for the birth of your baby, but it is different for every woman. You will know you are in labor by paying attention to changes in your body. Some of these changes include your water breaking, contractions, or a dilated cervix.
If your water breaks, the sac of the fluid surrounding your baby will break. Contractions are actually crampings of the uterus that help open the cervix and move the baby down through the birth canal.
Please be prepared to time your contractions and get to the hospital when your contractions are five minutes apart.
The dilated cervix is your body’s way of creating an opening large enough for the baby.
Preparing for Childbirth
When you arrive at the hospital, you and your baby’s heart rate will be monitored. You may also decide to take action with exercises or pain management. Some options include:
- Breathing exercises – a way of breathing to help you handle the intense pain as contractions happen.
- Epidural anesthesia – Medication is injected into the lower back that blocks all pain from labor below the belly button for several hours. Learn more about pain relief options during labor.
- IV pain medication – Medication given through an IV to help relieve pain during labor.
- Birthing assistance – A full array of assistance devices, such as an exercise ball or jacuzzi tubs, are available if you wish to use them.
Labor usually lasts from 12 to 15 hours before delivery, but can be much shorter or much longer. Not all of your labor will occur at the hospital. In fact, we encourage you to stay home where you are comfortable until your contractions are about five minutes apart.
Babies can be delivered in different ways:
- Vaginal Birth – The baby is delivered through the opening of the vagina. Contractions will move the baby down into the vaginal canal. Mother will push until the baby is delivered. A doctor or Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) can deliver your baby in this way.
- Cesarean Section (C-section) – Sometimes, the baby cannot be delivered through the vagina due to complications or high risk pregnancy. In a C-section, Mother is given epidural anesthesia to block pain. A small incision (cut) is made in the abdomen and uterus, and the baby is delivered through the opening. This type of delivery is a surgical procedure performed only by a doctor.
- Vaginal Delivery After C-section (VBAC) - Mother may have previously delivered a baby via C-section a baby but chooses to deliver (in agreement with her provider) via the opening of the vagina.
- Water Birth – Available at the Center for Midwifery, Mother immerses herself in the warm water of a large tub during labor and through the time of delivery. A Certified Nurse-Midwife (CNM) is there to offer support and guidance throughout the process. and monitor the baby's well-being by listening to the heart beat at regular intervals. Women can get in and out of the tub, shower, walk, or sit on a birthing ball to help induce labor. They can also choose to receive an epidural or intravenous medication to help them manage pain. A woman can use the warm water to soothe labor, but then elect to deliver outside the tub.
Postpartum (after-delivery) care begins as soon as your baby is delivered. This includes all medical care and support for the mother and baby. The length of stay in the hospital depends on the medical condition of the mother and baby.