Giving Birth

The decisions you make about childbirth and the maternity care that you receive can have lasting effects on your health and well-being and that of your baby and your family. Childbirth Connection is here to help you become an active participant in your maternity care by learning about your options, thinking about your goals and seeking care that is right for you and your family.

We encourage you to start with the Maternity Care section of this website. There, we help you understand how our current health care system often uses medical interventions whether or not there’s a medical need, and may not reliably offer many safe and effective practices. We also urge you to visit the Choosing a Maternity Care Provider and Choosing a Place of Birth sections for a better understanding of how those decisions can have a major impact on the care you receive.

In this section, we provide detailed information on a few common interventions, like cesarean birth (C-section) and labor induction, and on other important childbirth topics, including labor support, coping with labor pain and preventing pelvic floor problems. In each sub-section listed below, you will find a “Research and Evidence” page that summarizes high-quality research on these topics. We’ve included that level of detail because we believe it is important for women and families to understand whether there is a clear, well-supported rationale for having any procedure, drug, test or treatment being offered. Finally, we offer tips for making your decisions and plans and getting the care that is right for you. We hope this will be informative and helpful on your path to having a healthy and satisfying childbirth. Happy learning!

Labor Support

Understand your options for continuous support before, during and after labor, and access resources and information from trusted partners about labor support.

Labor Induction

Understand when and why labor is induced and its possible harms and benefits, and access resources and information from trusted partners about labor induction.

Labor Pain

Learn about the various options available to help relieve and cope with labor pain, including the possible harms and benefits associated with each option. In this section, you can also access resources and information from trusted partners about labor pain.

Cesarean Section (C-section)

Understand what C-section is, how and why it is performed and the possible harms and benefits of C-section; and access resources and information from trusted partners about C-section.

VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)

Learn about vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC), including why it is often underused in the United States and the possible harms and benefits of VBAC and repeat cesarean; and access resources and information from trusted partners about VBAC.

Pelvic Floor: Preventing Problems

Get a better understanding of common childbirth-associated forms of pelvic floor problems and how they can be prevented; and access resources and information from trusted partners on pelvic floor dysfunction.

What is “informed decision-making” and why should I care?

Making informed decisions means learning and thinking about the best available information on maternity care, and using it to decide what's right for you and your baby. It is important for you to learn about options, get answers to your questions and think about your childbirth preferences well before labor begins. The information in this section of the website can help you do just that.

Here are some questions to keep in mind as you read through these pages.

  • What options are available to me when it comes to giving birth?
  • What does the best available research say about the benefits and harms of each of these options?
  • What are my needs and preferences, and what are those of my spouse/ partner?

No one can predict exactly what labor and birth will be like, but being informed ahead of time can help you make careful plans and deal with in-the-moment decisions you may have to make.

Learn more about informed decision-making here.