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The University of Chicago Medicine - The Family Birth Center

Vaginal & Cesarean (C-Section) Birthing Options

At the Family Birth Center, vaginal delivery is the goal whenever possible. Even for some mothers who have had one or two cesarean deliveries (C-sections), we offer trial of labor after cesarean/vaginal birth after cesarean (TOLAC/VBAC).

Cesarean delivery is considered only when circumstances have elevated the risk of complications with vaginal birth, such as:

  • Prolonged or obstructed labor (when the baby is not delivering vaginally)
  • Multiple births (twins, triplets or more)
  • Fetal distress, such as a drop in the baby's heart rate
  • Certain fetal disorders
  • Certain chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes
  • Sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV or genital herpes
  • Problems with the umbilical cord or placenta

Whether you deliver vaginally or by cesarean, our team will explore every option possible to engage you and your family in a cherished experience that feels like exactly what it is — your child's birth, not just a procedure.

'Gentle' C-Sections

A C-section does involve surgery, but we understand that your experience is far more than an operation. At the Family Birth Center, our experts perform "gentle" cesareans that support an inclusive delivery and bonding experience for you and your family.

In most cases, we allow one family member or guest to accompany you in the operating room. With a gentle C-section, sometimes called a "family-centered" or "natural" cesarean, you have choices that traditionally have only been offered with vaginal births.

During a gentle C-section, we encourage you to see, hold, feed and start bonding with your newborn right away. Whenever possible:

  • Immediate skin-to-skin bonding is supported and encouraged with cesarean and vaginal deliveries.
  • Your blood pressure cuff and any other monitoring devices are placed on one arm, leaving your other arm free to hold your baby.
  • You can breastfeed in the operating room after cesarean delivery.