Ways of giving birth

There are different ways to give birth, each with their own pros and cons. As a mum-to-be, it's vital that you learn more about viable methods of childbirth, opting for the safest and most beneficial for yourself and your baby.

Vaginal Birth

Vaginal birth is the process of delivery through the birth canal. Medical experts around the world over recommend this type of birth for most pregnancies1.

Unless vaginal birth poses a risk to your health or your baby’s health (as determined by your doctor’s expert prognosis), this birth type is the “default,” if not the gold standard, that expecting mums should undergo.


  • Safe, low-risk labour, and delivery process.
  • No extensive medical intervention.
  • Boosts babies’ immune system2.
  • Faster postpartum recovery for mum.
  • Mums are less likely to return to the hospital for further or follow-up care3.
  • Less complications in future pregnancies and deliveries4.


  • Labour may take hours and require great effort from the mum.
  • Delivery may tear the vaginal opening and require stitches.

Best for: Healthy, expecting mums with no pregnancy complications that pose risks to the process.

Not suited for: Pregnancies with certain complications; cases of emergency deliveries; certain cases of delivering twins or more; delivery of large babies, especially when the mother has a small pelvis.

Caesarian or C-Section Birth

A Caesarian section or C-section birth requires your doctor to make an incision in your lower abdomen to give birth to the baby.

C-sections are major surgery. Often, doctors will recommend C-sections only when the mum can’t undergo vaginal birth due to complications in their pregnancy.


  • Provides an alternative to vaginal birth for mums with pregnancy complications, or where vaginal birth poses risk to the mum or infant.
  • An alternative birth plan for large babies or twins, triplets, and multiples.
  • An alternative or emergency option when labour during vaginal birth lasts longer than normal, or when it proves more difficult than normal for the mum.


  • Mums take longer to recover. Mums will have to stay longer in the hospital, and home recovery may entail six more weeks of restricted activity, if not bed rest3.
  • The surgery process involves more risk than vaginal birth. Risks may include hemorrhage, infection from the surgery and resulting fever, adverse reaction to the anesthetic injected, blood clots, and bladder or bowel injury3,5.
  • May lead to complications or higher likelihood for C-sections in future births3.

Best for: Emergency delivery; pregnancies or labour involving complications.

Not suited for: Healthy, expecting mums who can undergo vaginal birth with no risk.

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Water Birth

A water birth is essentially a vaginal birth done in a tub or a small pool of warm water. It's a popular, alternative birthing method, often presided over by midwives rather than doctors, and where mothers immerse themselves in the pool for the labour process. Mums can choose to deliver their baby in the water, for a number of benefits.

Water births are thought to facilitate the birthing process, with the idea behind it being that warm water feels similar to amniotic fluid in the womb6. Delivering the baby in the water, in this respect, is perceived to be gentler and less stressful for the baby.


  • Warm water feels soothing and relaxing. It can help reduce stress during the labour process, both for mum and baby. The water may also help manage contractions8 and offer a measure of pain relief.
  • Water allows mum to move about freely in the water, trying different birthing positions such as kneeling, squatting, or floating on their back.
  • Warm water may reduce the risk of perineal tearing8.


  • If complications arise, mum and their baby may be at risk without a doctor or hospital resources on hand.
  • Laboring or birthing in water makes the process incompatible with epidurals as well as certain types of pain relief.

Best for: Healthy mums with low-risk pregnancies; mums who opt for home birth; mums with allergies or adverse reactions to anesthesia or certain medication.

Not suited for: Pregnancies with complications; first-time pregnancies; pre-term labour; delivering twins or multiples; mums with infections that may spread in the water; mums with a history of complications during pregnancy or labour9.

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1. Vaginal Delivery - National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI),
Accessed October 29, 2021
2. Stunted microbiota and opportunistic pathogen colonization in caesarean-section birth - Nature.com,
Accessed October 29, 2021
3. Birth: vaginal birth and caesarian birth - Raising Children,
Accessed October 29, 2021
4. Long-term risks and benefits associated with cesarean delivery for mother, baby, and subsequent pregnancies: Systematic review and meta-analysis - PLOS.org,
Accessed October 29, 2021
5. Caesarian Sections - Kids Health,
Accessed October 29, 2021
6. Water Births - AmericanPregnancy.org,
Accessed October 29, 2021
7. What you need to know about giving birth in water - Hull University Teaching Hospitals,
Accessed October 29, 2021
8. Choosing a Waterbirth - NHS Harrogate and District,
Accessed October 29, 2021
9. Is a Water Birth Right For You? - What To Expect,
Accessed October 29, 2021