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Birth: Everything you need to know

Knowing more about what to expect during the most special moment of your life will certainly make you feel more secure and less anxious, especially when it comes to facing the third trimester. Of course, unexpected problems may arise, even if you follow prenatal instructions diligently, which is why it’s a good idea to learn about the alternatives and possible last-minute changes.

Talk it all out with your doctor, even about things that, at first glance, you might think aren’t that serious. It’s a crucial step to ensure your physical and emotional comfort as well as your baby’s well-being. To help prepare you for what you’ll hear at the doctor’s office, BabyHome outlines there are two ways you can give birth – through a cesarean delivery (also known as the C-section) or vaginal birth – being that the latter may happen in different ways.

Cesarean delivery (C-section)

The C-section isn’t most doctors’ first choice because, if there are any miscalculations with the gestational age, the baby could be born prematurely. Just one “extra” week inside the womb makes a world of difference, as it is during the final weeks that the babies gain more weight and mature their lungs. However, each pregnancy is unique; the same way pregnant women are all different from one another, which is why the birth process’s specifics should be discussed with your OB-GYN. This is a surgery that, many times, is necessary. For instance: in situations where the umbilical cord penetrates the birth canal before the baby, when there is a premature dislocation of the placenta, a drastic and sudden decrease in the fetus’ oxygen flow or heartbeat, cardiac diseases, genital herpes, small vaginal opening, not enough dilation and also in cases where the placenta either partially or completely covers the cervix, impeding the baby from coming out. The incision is made close to where pubic hair begins and measures about 10cm. Stitches are removed two weeks after birth.

Vaginal birth

Women who undergo vaginal births avoid having major surgery and its associated risks, such as severe bleeding, scarring, infections, reactions to anesthesia, and more longer-lasting pain. And because a mother will be less woozy from surgery, she could hold her baby and begin breastfeeding sooner after delivering.  The baby won’t risk being removed from the mother’s womb too early and will suffer less respiratory issues and is less at risk of developing infections.

The vaginal birth can be done in the following ways:

  • Normal labor: this refers to any birth that happens through the vagina without the need for surgical instruments such as the forceps or a vacuum pump to help deliver the baby. In some cases, certain procedures are done beforehand, such as intravenously administering medicine to stimulate uterine contractions, electronically monitoring the child’s heartbeat, and artificially rupturing the amniotic sac. The normal birth can – depending on the situation, call for anesthesia (epidural, spinal, or localized) and an episiotomy, a small surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth, to aid a difficult delivery and prevent rupturing tissues.
  • Natural birth: Also known as the humanized birth, this is the option where nature and the woman’s instinctive needs call the shots. The doctor will only accompany the development of the process, periodically listening to the baby’s heartbeat and doing tests to check the cervix’s dilation. No procedure – medicine, anesthesia, or episiotomy – is given or done.
  • Water birth: Very common around the world, this type of birth process is becoming increasingly popular. The birth takes place in a specific kind of bathtub or an adapted one and is filled with warm water. This variation of vaginal birth doesn’t eliminate the pain from the contractions but helps minimize it.
  • Squatting birth: Very common in indigenous communities. Instead of laying down to give birth, the woman squats down – usually in a special chair specific for the process. The position helps avoid the compression of blood vessels and uses gravity to make it easier for the baby to come out.
  • Surgical vaginal birth: In some situations, just pushing isn’t enough. To help facilitate the birth of the baby, it might be necessary to use the forceps, a type of handheld, hinged instrument used for grasping and holding onto the baby’s head to pull it out, or the vacuum pump, a soft or rigid cup with a handle where the suction cup attaches to the baby’s head and gently helps guide it out of the vagina. While these seem scary, these are safe procedures done nowadays and sparsely: these measures are only done to ensure less suffering for the mother and child and in the rare cases where it’s a better bet than a C-section.