Empowered Birth

A Parent’s Guide to the Most Common Childbirth Options

childbirth options

How bad will it hurt? Will everything turn out all right? Will things go the way I imagine? What will my baby look like? What have I gotten myself into?

These are just some of the questions that whirl around in your head as you await the arrival of your child. Rest assured, whatever happens on the day of your baby’s arrival will be life-changing.

There are many things to think about during pregnancy. One of the most important things to consider is childbirth options.

There are a few options to choose from. You and your partner should sit down well in advance of your due date and determine which options are right for you.

Keep on reading to learn your delivery options!

The Basic Childbirth Options

There are two basic ways that children enter the world. They can come naturally through the vagina or surgically by way of a C-Section.

Let’s look a bit closer at what these childbirth options entail.

Vaginal Birth

Most babies come into the world through vaginal birth. This is considered the best way to give birth. The mother endures labor as her body prepares itself to push the baby out. After a time (it can vary from a few hours to a few days) the baby travels down the birth canal and enters the world.

This is nature’s way of giving birth. The recovery period from this is generally pretty short and don’t require much of a hospital stay. It varies between states, but the typical stay is 24-48 hours after the child is born.


In some cases, the mother may not be able, or it is risky for her, to give birth vaginally. Some (not all) reasons for this are:

  • The baby is in the breech position (bottom down) or sideways
  • The baby is too big to fit through the mother’s pelvis
  • There is more than one baby
  • The placenta is blocking the cervix opening
  • The mother has an infection like HIV or genital herpes

In these cases, a procedure called a Cesarean Section, or C-Section, is used. In short, this is a surgical method of creating an opening in the woman’s stomach through with the baby is retrieved. Almost 32% of babies in the United States make their appearance through a C-Section.

In many cases, a C-Section is planned because the condition requiring it is already known. Other times, it becomes necessary due to complications during vaginal birth.

A C-Section is major surgery and, as such, has pretty tough recovery time. This can be further complicated by the demands of caring for a new baby. Be sure to have a support system in place to help you for a few weeks afterward.

It’s important to remember that you can plan for a vaginal birth. But, on the big day, your doctor may determine that a C-Section is necessary for yours or the baby’s safety. Don’t worry if that happens; the important thing is that you and your baby are safe.

Where To Give Birth

We’ve all heard some crazy story about a woman giving birth on a train or in a car. But the vast majority of women will give birth where they plan to.

These days women have several options for where they can choose to have their baby. The main thing to decide is if they want to give birth at home or a facility. There are pluses and minuses to both. Let’s take a look.

Hospital Birth

The vast majority of babies in the United States are born in a hospital. This is the safest place to give birth. If anything goes wrong, doctors already have what they need at their fingertips to make sure things go well.

For women with high-risk pregnancies or who want to have a vaginal birth after a C-Section, hospital birth is often the only option. Even if everything has been smooth sailing, women are encouraged to go to the hospital to give birth. You never know when you might need help.

If you think that it sounds sterile and cold to give birth in a hospital, think again. The good thing is that there are different birthing options in a hospital to make the whole experience a bit more comfortable.

Every hospital is different, so you will want to ask about their policies as you make your decision.

Traditional Hospital

In a traditional hospital setting, you may move from one room to another as labor progresses. For example, you may labor and deliver in one room and then be moved to another for recovery. Once you’re stable, you may go to a semi-private or private room.

Some hospitals keep the baby in the hospital’s nursery. They’ll bring the baby to you periodically to eat. Find out your hospital’s routine beforehand so you’ll know what to expect.

Family-Centered Care

Many hospitals are now offering more comfortable, personalized care. You’ll be given a private room and stay there for the duration of your stay at the hospital.

You’ll labor, deliver, and recover all in the same room and your baby stays with you. Your partner is often allowed to stay with you as well. The room is decorated to feel more like home, and medical equipment is often hidden from view in cabinets when not in use.

Birthing Center

A birthing center is one step closer to having a home birth. It’s usually located in or near the hospital, so you still have ready access to medical care if needed. But extra care is taken to make the atmosphere feel more like home.

Home Birth

In 1900 almost all babies were born at home. Only the most serious cases went to the hospital. Nowadays, it’s the opposite. Less than 2% of births don’t happen at a hospital. However, that number is on the rise.

A midwife with medical training usually attends home births. Sometimes there is also a support professional, called a doula, that helps the mother breathe through the pain.

You Decide

There are many childbirth options available to you. Remember, the most important thing is that you and your baby are healthy and safe.

Determine what would be the most comfortable for you, but also listen to your doctor’s advice. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, it is not a good idea to opt for a home birth regardless of how you feel about hospitals.

Looking for more advice on the best birthing methods? Check out our week-by-week rundown of what to expect during pregnancy.


This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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Stephanie McClane About Author

Stephanie McClane is a mother of three and enjoys sharing the knowledge she gathered throughout her pregnancies. After approaching her last two pregnancies from a more holistic prespective and having two natural births, she was inspired to share her experiences with other moms-to-be.