Types of Delivery

Choosing the delivery option that's right for you

A pregnant woman standing by a window in a sunlit room.

Choosing the delivery option that's right for you

Delivering a baby is both a beautiful and stressful moment in your life. Whatever type of delivery you have, we want to provide you with a safe, caring place to deliver your baby.

Vaginal delivery

In a vaginal delivery, your baby is delivered through the birth canal. This is the natural and most common type of delivery. While a vaginal delivery can take place outside of a hospital, many healthy women choose to deliver their baby in a hospital as a precaution. Scripps hospital staff will try to accommodate most birth plans, so you and your baby can have a safe and rewarding experience.

Pain management

Scripps offers a number of non-medical and medical options to help keep you as comfortable as possible during labor.

Non-medical options include:

  • Walking during labor 
  • Taking a warm shower
  • Using warm or cold packs
  • Using birthing balls 
  • Relaxation and breathing techniques

During a vaginal delivery, many women elect to have anesthesia to help reduce the pain. An epidural is a type of anesthesia placed directly into the spine; because it reduces sensation, women who choose an epidural must stay in bed. An epidural is an optional procedure. Talk to your OB-GYN about any questions or concerns you may have about anesthesia during childbirth.

Cesarean section

A cesarean section (C-section) is a surgical procedure in which the baby is delivered through an incision in the abdomen rather than vaginally through the birth canal. A Cesarean birth is usually performed when there are complications that would make a vaginal delivery dangerous for you or your baby. When these complications are detected in advance, a scheduled c-section may be discussed with your provider.

Reasons for C-sections

  • The baby is in breech presentation inside the womb — meaning the baby’s head is upright instead of directed toward the birth canal — and efforts to correct the positioning have not been effective
  • You are having a multiple birth (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • You have a previous health condition that might present a complication, such as high blood pressure, a heart condition or poorly controlled diabetes
  • You have an active case of genital herpes

In other cases, emergency C-sections may be performed if complications arise after active labor has already begun. Examples may include:

  • The umbilical cord has become wrapped or tangled around the baby
  • Fetal distress — including changes in heart rate — is detected on the fetal monitors
  • The baby is too large to delivery vaginally
  • The umbilical cord has become trapped in the cervix
  • You become too physically exhausted to continue with a vaginal delivery
  • Your contractions are ineffective in moving the baby through the birth canal

Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)

It was previously thought that once a baby was delivered by C-section, future pregnancies may need to be delivered the same way. However, many women are now delivering their babies vaginally even after a previous C-section, which is called a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).

If you are considering this option, your physician will want to know:

  • Why did you have your C-section?
  • Is this condition going to recur?
  • Where was your uterine incision placed?
  • Was there any reason to believe you did not heal well?
  • At which hospital will you deliver?
  • Can emergency C-sections be performed promptly at the hospital you’ve chosen?

Your physician will discuss your delivery options with you and determine if you and your baby are able to go through a VBAC delivery.