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Methods of childbirth: Which one is right for you?

Riddle Hospital August 23, 2018 Wellness Articles

From the moment you decide to expand your family, you will have to make a ton of choices. From going off birth control to choosing a care provider to learning the baby’s gender to deciding what to pack in your hospital bag, there’s a lot to plan for and think about.

One of the most important decisions you will have to make along the way is how you plan to deliver your baby.

Nowadays, women have a ton of pregnancy delivery options to choose from. Sure, it can be intimidating to decide which birthing method is best for you, but that’s why expecting mothers should be as informed and prepared as possible before the big day.

We spoke with Semhar Mahmud, MD, an OB/GYN at Riddle Hospital, part of Main Line Health, to shed some light on the different options for childbirth available at Main Line Health.

Vaginal birth

Vaginal delivery, the most common of birthing methods, refers to when the baby is born through the birth canal. This process is broken up into three phases: labor, pushing and delivery of the baby, and delivery of the placenta.

According to Dr. Mahmud, women who give birth vaginally can typically expect shorter hospital stays, lower infection rates, and a quicker recovery.

Whether you choose to have a natural birth or receive an epidural, Main Line Health’s experienced obstetricians and anesthesiologists will support your decision and help you follow your birth plan.

Cesarean section (c-section)

One in three women end up requiring a c-section, which refers to delivery of the baby through a surgical incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.

Sometimes, things don’t go as planned, and an emergency c-section becomes necessary. However, there are many cases where women will opt for a scheduled c-section if they have a pregnancy complication, are expecting multiples, or have a medical condition such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

Whatever the circumstances, our staff will work to maintain your birth plan as much as possible so you have a safe delivery and a healthy, happy baby.

Vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC)

Historically, if a woman gave birth via a c-section, all future deliveries would also have to be a c-section. However, women now have the option to opt for a vaginal delivery after a previous c-section. MLH is happy to accommodate these VBAC births with close consultation and supervision from a doctor.

VBACs can be a great pregnancy delivery option for some women, especially if their previous plans for a vaginal birth were interrupted by an emergency c-section, but in other cases, a repeat c-section is the safer option. If you are considering a VBAC, consult with your OB/GYN ahead of time to understand your risks and benefits.

“I recommend that expectant mothers discuss their desires with their OB/GYNs as early as her first prenatal visit in the office,” says Dr. Mahmud. “If you are interested in trying to undergo a trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC), we offer extensive counseling.”

Your childbirth experience

With all the methods of childbirth, Main Line Health aims to make each experience as family-oriented as possible. Our labor nurses, obstetricians, and anesthesiologists are with the mothers and families every step of the way during labor and delivery.

As long as there are no maternal or neonatal complications, we allow and encourage immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby. In addition, Main Line Health is a breastfeeding-friendly hospital, and our trained lactation consultants are available immediately after childbirth to help initiate the mother-baby bond.

Regardless of which birthing method you choose, each and every expectant mother should be well-informed on the different options for childbirth. Expecting parents can learn more about the various birthing methods, along with the physical and emotional challenges of delivery, at one of Main Line Health’s childbirth prep classes.

“Our goal is to create a satisfactory childbirth experience by discussing the mother's personal expectations, providing support, having quality patient relationships, and involving the patient in decision-making,” Dr. Mahmud says.

Every family deserves to choose a birth plan that works for them. Our team is here to help you welcome the newest member of your family in the way that’s best for you.

Main Line Health serves patients at hospitals and health centers throughout the western suburbs of Philadelphia. To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.