It’s a good idea to draw up a birthing plan before you go into labour, but what type of birth should you choose? In this post we’ll help you make that decision.
Drawing up a birthing plan involves a lot of research, and none more important than how you actually want to give birth. Not picking the right delivery method can lead to injuries to mothers and babies during childbirth, so it’s important not to take this decision lightly.
In this post, we’re going to help you make that decision by briefly explaining the different types of delivery methods you can choose, giving you the pros and cons of each. We’ll finally leave you with some tips to help you choose the best environment for your birth.
So, if you’re looking for a place to start when it comes to your baby delivery, read on…
Different Types of Baby Delivery Methods for Your Birthing Plan
To help you pick which delivery method you want to include in your birthing plan, we first have to go over what each of them are, so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
A vaginal birth, also known as a straightforward birth, is the traditional way to give birth to your baby. The baby is born through the birth canal which is induced naturally after 38-41 weeks of pregnancy.
If there are any complications with the baby being born naturally, the doctor might use forceps or a ventouse (vacuum cup) to deliver the baby. If there is no way the baby is coming out of the birth canal, the doctors will likely consider a caesarean or c-section.
If you don’t choose one of the other delivery options for your birthing plan, and there are no complications once you’re in labour, this will be your default method of delivery.
If you’re not clear on what a c-section is, it involves making a cut in your tummy and womb to deliver the baby. Most of them are carried out under anaesthetic where your lower body is numb but you’re still awake. The procedure usually takes 40 to 50 minutes.
For the longest time, caesareans were an emergency measure used to deliver babies that couldn’t be birthed vaginally. However, since the procedure has begun to compete with vaginal births in terms of the safety of the child and mother, some women opt to have it electively.
Once you’ve looked through the pros and cons section of this post, you might decide a c-section is the best delivery method to add to your birthing plan. In this case, you can ask your midwife or doctor for one and they should provide it.
A VBAC is basically a vaginal birth after caesarean, where a woman gives birth vaginally after having had a previous caesarean section. This includes a straightforward vaginal delivery, or one assisted by forceps or ventouse.
Most women are able to have a VBAC, and research has shown that it has fewer complications than an elective repeat caesarean section (ERCS). If you’ve had a c-section before and were thinking of doing it again, maybe you could add a VBAC to your birthing plan instead.
Having a bath or shower during pregnancy is great for some women, and they want to have that experience during labour. The bath is warm and buoyant, so you’re able to move into any position you like.
There are also women who say that being in the water increases the chance of respectful midwifery care which improves the whole birthing experience.
Also, you don’t have to stay in the bath for the whole birth, you can choose to get in or out whenever you like. If you like the idea of a water birth, wait to see our full pros and cons list before deciding whether to add it to your birthing plan.
Pros and Cons of These Baby Delivery Methods
Now that you have an idea of what the primary methods for giving birth are, it’s time to give you the pros and cons of each so you can make an informed decision on which to include in your birthing plan.
Vaginal Birth Pros and Cons
There is evidence to suggest that having a vaginal birth has positive and psychological benefits that you don’t get from the other methods. These include:
- Less pain post-childbirth
- An improved chance of starting breastfeeding
- Better labour satisfaction
- Less likely to experience postnatal depression
Basically, you’re more likely to have all the benefits women have always gotten from natural childbirth. However, realistically, it comes with its own problems as well. These include:
- Tearing can occur which negatively affects urine and bowel function
- The labour is prolonged if the mother is tired, anxious, or stressed
- Could exacerbate underlying health conditions
- Might experience lingering pain in the perineum, the area between the vagina and anus, after a vaginal delivery
Caesarean Pros and Cons
You might end up having a c-section, even if it’s not in your birthing plan, if the vaginal delivery has any complications. But in case you were thinking of choosing to have a c-section, a planned caesarean can reduce the risks of:
- Haemorrhage and blood transfusion
- The urinary and bladder issues we mentioned in the vaginal birth list
- Pain during the delivery
- The womb, vagina or bladder prolapsing
- Feelings of anxiety and loss of control over the childbirth
Despite all the risks caesarean’s can reduce, it involves surgery which brings some risks of its own. These include:
- The wound becoming infected
- A longer hospital stay; usually 2 to 4 days more on average than a vaginal birth
- Longer recovery time of up to 6 weeks
- Higher risk of bleeding after birth that sometimes requires a hysterectomy
- The baby receiving a cut from the surgery
- Higher risk of respiratory problems for your baby
VBAC Pros and Cons
The advantages of a successful vaginal birth after a caesarean are:
- A better chance of a vaginal birth in future pregnancies
- Recovery is quicker than with a second c-section
- The same benefits as having a vaginal birth
The risks of having a VBAC over a second caesarean are:
- The scar from the previous c-section could open up, known as a uterine rupture. This happens to 1 in 200 women who have a VBAC, and is twice or three times as likely if your labour is induced.
- VBACs aren’t always successful as 25 in 100 women have to have an emergency c-section.
The risks of having a VBAC vary depending on your obstetric history. So, you should definitely discuss it with your doctor before deciding to add it to your birthing plan.
Water Birth Pros and Cons
This method of delivery is basically a different way to have a vaginal birth. If you’re already considering a vaginal birth, or if a c-section is your thing, reserve your commitment until you’ve heard the pros and cons of this method. Starting with the advantages of water births, these include:
- Increased sense of control and privacy
- Reduces the level of anxiety as it’s a relaxing place to be
- Less pain relief is needed as this method tends to increase pain threshold
- The water is buoyant and light, allowing you to get into a comfortable birth position
But, despite these varied advantages, there are also some drawbacks which you should be aware of too. These are:
- Sometimes contractions can diminish, and labour can stall
- If you’re having it at home, renting a pool can be costly
- You may get muscle cramps, especially if the bath is too small
- If you start to bleed from a birthing complication, doctors may not be able to measure how much blood you’ve lost which can cause issues
- In rare instances, there’s an increased risk of respiratory problems, cord rupture and infections for the baby
Different Environments to Consider in Your Birthing Plan
Hopefully, after reading the pros and cons, you’ve decided what delivery method you want to add to your birthing plan. But, before we end this post, we’re going to give you a quick rundown of the different environments you can have your birth in.
Having the birth at home is quite popular, because it’s a familiar place where you can feel comfortable. You can even use your own bathroom and toilet if you need them.
One midwife will assist you with the labour and another with the birth. If, for whatever reason, you need a doctor, your midwife can call an ambulance and you’ll be transferred to the hospital.
If you like the idea of having a water birth, you can arrange to get one here, and there are other pain relief options you can request.
In a Free-Standing Midwifery Unit (Birth Centre)
These units are ‘home-like’ and separate from the hospital obstetric unit. The benefits of this type of environment are the same as having the birth at home, except you’re less familiar with your surroundings, and there’s a chance you might have to share a toilet.
In an Alongside Midwifery Unit (Birth Centre)
This midwifery unit is in the hospital but separate from the obstetric unit. It has the same benefits as a free-standing midwifery except it’s at the hospital. So, if you need to see a doctor you can be transferred to the obstetric unit without needing an ambulance.
In a Hospital Obstetric Unit
This is a hospital environment, but there is a specialist medical team full of obstetricians, anaesthetists, neonatologists and medical equipment. Despite this extensive team, you’re less likely to have the same person looking after you throughout your care.
The obstetric unit has access to neonatal care and is the only place where you can receive an epidural (pain relief injected directly into the spine).
Ready to Make your Decision?
Today, we’ve managed to cover what the main delivery options you can add to your birthing plan are, as well as the pros and cons of each one. We’ve also given you a brief overview of the different environments you can give birth in.
Hopefully, you’re now a little clearer about the different birthing options you have after reading this post. Now, you can make a more informed decision on what method of delivery you want to add to your birthing plan. Good luck!