In some cases, a woman may need medical help to give birth. For instance, labor may stall, or the baby may need help to get through the birth canal. Sometimes what starts as a routine vaginal birth may end in a cesarean delivery to make sure the mom and baby are safe.
Procedures done during labor
Electronic fetal heart monitoring and vaginal exams are standard practice during labor, but other procedures are used as needed.
- It's helpful to know about the types of fetal monitoring you may have. Monitoring may be either continuous for a high-risk delivery or periodic to check for signs that the baby might be in distress.
- You will have sterile vaginal exams to check whether your cervix is thinning and opening (effacing and dilating).
- Labor induction and augmentation includes a simple "sweeping of the membranes" just inside of the cervix, rupturing the amniotic sac, using medicine to soften (ripen) the cervix, and using medicine to stimulate contractions. This may be needed if your baby is overdue (post-term pregnancy).
- Antibiotics if you tested positive for group B strep during your pregnancy.
Procedures to help with delivery
Sometimes your doctor may need to use different procedures to help deliver the baby.
- Forceps delivery or vacuum extraction is used to assist a vaginal delivery. This may be needed when labor is stalled at the pushing stage or when the baby shows signs of distress at the pushing stage and needs to be delivered quickly.
- Episiotomy widens the perineum with an incision. This is sometimes used to deliver the baby's head more quickly, when there are signs of distress.
- The need for a cesarean birth during labor is mainly based on the baby's and mother's conditions. For more information, see the topic Cesarean Section.