Choosing Your Mode of Delivery
There are several delivery methods which can safely bring your baby into this world. Over the years, medical advancements have allowed women to have a safe delivery experience even in the event of high-risk pregnancies and unexpected complications.
Vaginal Delivery (aka Natural Delivery)
The most common form of delivery is through the vagina, also commonly known as natural delivery. Your obstetrician will usually recommend a vaginal delivery unless a pre-existing condition or unforeseen complications during labour will make a vaginal delivery dangerous to the mother, baby or both. Read here to learn when C-section will be required or recommended.
Advantages of natural delivery:
Natural delivery is associated with a shorter hospital stay, quicker recovery period for the mother and lower infection rate. It also helps to establish bonding between mother and baby as well as help start breastfeeding earlier than in the case of a Caesarean section.
Disadvantages of natural delivery:
Some women will experience tearing of the skin and tissues during a vaginal delivery, which will require stitches. Repeated vaginal deliveries may result in weakened pelvic floor muscles and is associated with conditions such as urinary incontinence. However, that can be managed through non-invasive treatments such as vaginal laser rejuvenation.
Assisted Vaginal Delivery
During the course of a vaginal delivery, your doctor may apply a vacuum cup or forceps to the baby’s head to help guide the baby out of the birth canal. Forceps are like large spoons, which are inserted into the vagina and positioned around the baby’s head. While the mother pushes during labour, the forceps apply mild pressure to guide the baby’s head out. A vacuum cup, on the other hand, is a suction cup with an attached handle. The suction cup is inserted into the vagina and placed on top of the baby’s head. While the mother pushes during labour, the vacuum cup applies mild traction to guide the delivery of the baby’s head.
Caesarean Section (C-Section)
A caesarean section or C-section is a surgical procedure where an incision is made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus to deliver the baby. A C-section is done under epidural anaesthesia where the mother’s body is numbed below the waist and she remains conscious during the procedure or under general anaesthesia depending on the reason for the surgery and the mother’s preference.
When is C-section recommended?
- In the event of multiple pregnancies
- When there is a very large baby, a baby in a breeched position, a baby in distress
- In pregnancy conditions such as placenta previa (low placenta) or pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure)
- When the mother has certain existing medical conditions
Apart from medical reasons, some mothers may choose to c-section as their mode of delivery for social reasons such as having the ability to time the baby’s birth. While a C-section is generally safe, it is after all an invasive procedure, and there may be increased risk of heavy bleeding, infection, and injury to other organs at times. The recovery period is longer as compared to a vaginal birth as the surgical scar on the tummy is bigger and requires time to heal. Mothers who have undergone a C-section may also sometimes face problems with breastfeeding.
Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC)
If you have had a C-section during your first birth, you may be able to deliver vaginally during your subsequent births, also known as having a VBAC. However, this is dependent on several factors, such as the reason for your initial C section, number of previous C-sections and the type of incision made during your first C-section.
Pain Management during Labour
During labour, you may opt for medical options for pain relief, or practice natural pain management techniques to manage the pain. The most common agents used for pain management are epidural (a local anaesthetic which numbs the nerves carrying the pain impulses from the birth canal to the brain), gas and air, and intra-muscular injection. Discuss with A/Prof Fong on your pain management options.