BIRTHING OPTIONS: VAGINAL AND CESAREAN SECTION DELIVERY
At the Women’s Medical Center, PC, located in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, our Board Certified Obstetric Specialists have successfully delivered countless healthy babies, and will respect your birthing preferences without pressuring you to select a particular delivery option. Your obstetrician will carefully review all of your labor and delivery choices, informing you about the pros and cons of each birthing method to help you make a fully informed decision about this crucially important life event. Our goal is to ensure that you are 100% comfortable with every facet of your labor and delivery plan, and to allow you to commence the birthing process feeling as relaxed and confident as possible. We are affiliated with the McLaren Central Michigan Hospital, where our patients have access to the best possible amenities throughout their labor and delivery experiences.
During a vaginal birth, uterine contractions propel the baby out of the uterus and into the passageway through the cervix, vagina, and vulva (birth canal). Because each woman’s labor experience is unique, the duration of labor can vary considerably, although the average labor for new mothers lasts approximately 12-14 hours (subsequent pregnancies are often associated with shorter labor durations).
Vaginal births generally occur at around 38-41 weeks, and are comprised of three general stages of labor:
- Dilation and Effacement of the Cervix
- Pushing and Birth
- Delivery of the Placenta (‘afterbirth’)
CESAREAN SECTION (C-SECTION) DELIVERY
Cesarean birth (C-section delivery) can be planned or unplanned and involves the surgical delivery of a baby through incisions made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. Should you elect to have a C-section birth (or should one become medically necessary), you will usually be given either an epidural block or a spinal block, although occasionally general anesthesia is necessary. If you have received a spinal or epidural block, you will be awake for the procedure, but will experience numbness in the lower half of your body. Your obstetrician will then make a vertical or transverse incision along your abdomen and will deliver the baby through this incision. He/she will then remove the placenta, place dissolvable stitches to close the uterus, and utilize surgical staples or sutures to close the abdominal incisions.
If you were awake for your C-section surgery, you will be able to hold your children after delivery, but may require a 2-4 day hospital stay to allow your body to rest and heal properly. You will also need to restrict your physical activity level when you return home and you will be provided with pain medication for the management of any soreness or incision pain. Some patients may experience cramping (particularly if breastfeeding), bleeding or discharge, and incision pain for the next 4-6 weeks. Potential (albeit rare) C-section delivery complications include: blood clots, adverse reaction to anesthesia, infection, blood loss, and/or injury to the bowel or bladder.
Your Women’s Medical Center, PC obstetrician will always take your preferences and birthing objectives into consideration when creating your labor/delivery plan, and will work collaboratively with you to determine whether or not a C-section delivery is the safest choice for your child and yourself.
In general, planned Cesarean section indications are as follows:
- The mother’s medical history includes previous invasive uterine surgery
- The fetal position is breech (the child’s feet or buttocks would be born first) or transverse (sideways)
- The baby suffers from neural tube defects or other health complications that would make vaginal birth too dangerous
- There is an obstruction (i.e. fibroid) blocking the opening of the vagina
- There are concerns about macrosomia (very large baby)
- Cases of multiples (specifically, the delivery of 3 or more children)
- The placenta is situated too low in the uterus and is covering the cervix (placenta previa)
- HIV-positive mother with a high viral load at the time of delivery
Emergency (unplanned) Cesarean section indications may include:
- Fetal heart rate irregularities
- The placenta has begun to separate from the mother’s uterine wall, cutting off oxygen to the baby (placental abruption)
- Cervix dilation has stopped and the baby is no longer traveling down the birth canal, despite medical efforts to stimulate contractions and induce labor
- The umbilical cord has dropped through the open cervix into the vagina ahead of the baby, cutting off the infant’s oxygen supply (umbilical cord prolapse)
- The mother has an active genital herpes outbreak when the water breaks or labor commences