Pregnancy marks one of the most beautiful stages in a woman’s life. Giving birth to a new life is an emotionally overwhelming yet extraordinary experience. Although normal vaginal delivery has been the typical way of birthing, over the years, many new techniques have been developed to help during labor, either by dampening pain or smoothening the delivery process. Advancements in medical science has led to the discovery of various methods to ensure successful deliveries even in case of high-risk pregnancies.
Different types of childbirth and delivery methods:
Vaginal Delivery: It is the most common and safest type of childbirth. When a baby is born through the birth canal of a woman’s body, the delivery is termed as vaginal delivery or natural birth. It may or may not be assisted with pain-relieving medications. The exact time of birth cannot be predicted in such a case, but most vaginal births tend to happen once 38-40 weeks of pregnancy have been completed.
Benefits of vaginal delivery:
--Infants born through this process tend to have fewer health-related problems
--This ensures a quicker recovery for the mother and helps avoid abdominal surgery and the associated risks that come with a C-section
--Vaginal childbirth has a lower rate of infection for the mother and requires a shorter hospital stay
Caesarean Section (C-Section): In this method, the baby is delivered by opening the abdomen of the mother and surgically opening the uterus to remove the baby. This procedure is often required when there is a case of multiples, the baby is in a transverse position, or any large obstruction such as fibroids.
Benefits of a C-Section:
-- Reduced injury to the vagina
-- Bladder stays under control
-- No heavy bleeding after the birth
Forceps delivery: Sometimes the doctor has to use forceps (instruments resembling large spoons or tongs) to pull out the baby’s head and help guide the baby through the birth canal. This is a preferred delivery option if the mother is exhausted and is unable to push the baby out.
Benefits of a forceps delivery:
-- Delivery can be achieved faster
-- The incidence of fetal scalp injuries is low
Vacuum extraction: In this technique, the doctor uses suction to apply a plastic cup to the baby’s head and gently pull the baby from the birth canal
Benefits of a vacuum extraction:
-- A baby showing signs of fetal distress (like abnormal heart rate) can be delivered in time
-- Helps a woman who has been in the second stage of labor for several hours and is unable to make further progress
Water birthing: Water birth is a natural birthing technique where the mother spends the active stage of labour in a birthing pool or a tub of warm water, which allows for a more comfortable and less medicalised delivery process. Warm water helps in relaxing the mother, which helps in faster labour with good pain relief, without any need for anaesthesia. Also, the slow transition of the new-born from the amniotic fluid in the mother’s womb into water is gentler for the baby.
Benefits of water birthing:
-- Women experience significantly lesser pain
-- Warm water helps in an increased flow of oxytocin - making contractions more effective
-- Women get more liberty to move around, change to comfortable positions and postures during labour
Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC): Earlier, if a woman has had a caesarean delivery, all her subsequent deliveries would have been via C-section only. Today, it is possible for women to have a successful vaginal delivery even if they have undergone caesarean section before through this birthing technique. VBAC is suitable for women who are pregnant with one baby, have a history of one to two low transverse C-sections and have no problems that would prevent VBAC.
Benefits of VBAC:
-- Lower risk of surgical complications
-- Lower risk of multiple caesarean deliveries such as placenta previa or placenta accrete
-- Shorter hospital stays and recovery time
Different birthing techniques have their own advantages and disadvantages. The focus should always be on ensuring that the baby is delivered safely and comes healthy into the world. It is also imperative for mothers to stay safe during the entire process of delivery.
--- By Dr Deepika Aggarwal, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, CK Birla Hospital, Gurgaon.