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Forms of Childbirth Delivery

| By
author image Sarah Harding
Sarah Harding has written stacks of research articles dating back to 2000. She has consulted in various settings and taught courses focused on psychology. Her work has been published by ParentDish, Atkins and other clients. Harding holds a Master of Science in psychology from Capella University and is completing several certificates through the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association.
Forms of Childbirth Delivery
A nurse is talking to a pregnant woman in the hospital. Photo Credit XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images


There are a number of ways to deliver a baby. Understanding the different possibilities can help a woman prepare for anything. Women often create a birth plan, or written explanation of how they prefer to deliver the baby. While all those involved in the delivery will try to adhere to the plan as closely as possible, things don't always go as expected. The two primary forms of delivery include cesarean and vaginal delivery. With these two options come several other variables.

Natural Childbirth

Natural childbirth is vaginal delivery with little to no medical intervention. Natural childbirth can take place at home, in a birthing facility, in a birthing tub or any other place set up to care for a woman and a newborn. Some mothers prepare for delivery by studying various techniques such as hypnobirthing or practicing several positions to assist in pushing the baby out of the vagina. WhatToExpect.com points out that lying down on a hospital bed and placing the woman's feet in stirrups is no longer the only option for childbirth. Moving about the birthing suite can help progress labor and reduce discomfort. Some facilities have special tools in the birthing room like bars, chairs and even large exercise balls. Standing, squatting, leaning or rocking are all methods women find comfortable to help cope with contractions and push a baby out of the body.

Some women study breathing techniques to help cope with labor. Natural birthing techniques are abundant. Specialized birth assistants, such as a doula, are trained to help a woman maintain a natural delivery, according to her wishes. Women who choose natural childbirth typically avoid anesthesia.

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Medically Assisted Birth

Vaginal deliveries can require some medical assistance in order to manage pain, induce or progress labor, and to extract the baby from the mother's body. Forceps and vacuum tools are used in some cases to pull the infant from the mother's body. Monitors are placed on the mother or the infant within the womb to monitor vital signs, like the heartbeat, in situations where the medical professional is concerned about their safety. Anesthesia options include an epidural catheter placed in the back to numb the mother from the waist down or an injection of a temporary anesthesia.

Labor can become stalled for a number of reasons. When this occurs, the mother has several medical intervention options, including a medical induction. Hormones, like dinoprostone or oxytocin, can be given to the woman to help open the cervix and trigger contractions. When continuing to labor becomes risky for the mother or child, the medical professional may suggest a surgical delivery.


Cesarean delivery, or c-section, requires an incision in the woman's abdomen, muscle tissue and then uterus to extract the baby from the womb. The American Pregnancy Association reports that 29.1 percent of deliveries end in c-section. A scheduled surgical delivery occurs when the mother has experienced pregnancy complications or when laboring could cause unnecessary harm to the mother or child, such as attempting to deliver a baby who is breach (feet first). Mothers can elect to do a cesarean delivery if they wish. Some reasons women choose a scheduled surgery delivery include convenience or fear of permanent vaginal damage from a vaginal birth. An emergency cesarean delivery is often ordered when the mother or infant is at risk of death or serious complications.


Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) delivery is another birthing method. About 60 to 80 percent of women who have previously delivered via c-section can have a successful vaginal birth, states the American Pregnancy Association. There are serious risks with this type of delivery but the likelihood is small that a woman will have complications. Prior to delivery, a medical professional can assess a woman's situation to help her decide if she is a good candidate for a VBAC. Women who had an emergency c-section previously may not be able to do a VBAC because emergency incisions are often done vertically instead of horizontally. This type of incision can increase the risk of uterine rupture during vaginal birthing.

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