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Labor and Delivery - Types of Delivery

Most babies are born in a vaginal delivery. But in some cases, other types of delivery occur by choice or because of an emergency.

Vaginal birth

During labor, the uterus contracts regularly to thin and open (efface and dilate) the cervix and push the baby out through the birth canal. It can take many hours or days for the cervix to open all the way so you can begin pushing.

Cesarean birth

A cesarean section is the delivery of a baby through a cut (incision) in the mother's belly and uterus. It is often called a C-section. In most cases, a woman can be awake during the birth and be with her newborn soon afterward.

A C-section may be planned or unplanned. In most cases, doctors do cesarean sections because of problems that arise during labor. For more information, see the topic Cesarean Section.

Vaginal birth after cesarean

In the past, a woman who had one C-section delivery had to have all of her other babies by C-section. But depending on the reason for your first C-section and the type of incision that was made, you may be able to deliver your next baby vaginally.

For more information, see the topic Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 15, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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