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Methods of Childbirth

Vaginal delivery is the most common and safest type of childbirth. When necessary in certain circumstances, forceps (instruments resembling large spoons) may be used to cup your baby's head and help guide the baby through the birth canal. Vacuum delivery is another way to assist delivery and is similar to forceps delivery. In vacuum delivery, a plastic cup is applied to the baby's head by suction and the health care provider gently pulls the baby from the birth canal.

Vaginal delivery may not always be possible. Caesarean delivery (C-section) may be necessary for the safety of you and your baby, especially if one of these complications is present:

  • Your baby is not in the head-down position.
  • Your baby is too large to pass through the pelvis.
  • Your baby is in distress.

Most often, the need for a cesarean delivery is not determined until after labor begins. Once a woman has had a cesarean delivery, future deliveries are often also done by cesarean. That's because surgery done on the uterus increases the risk of it rupturing during a future vaginal delivery.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kecia Gaither, MD, MPH on September 18, 2014
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