Study Reveals That Vaginal Deliveries Are Safe for Most Preterm Births

There are many reasons why pregnancy may be cut short and mom may go into labor early. Most times, the baby is fine and there is nothing to worry about. In fact, one in every eight babies in the U.S. is born prematurely, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One fear that moms may have is that premature labor automatically means that they have to a cesarean section. However, recently, this was proven not to be true.

Uncomplicated Pregnancies Have an Option

According to a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, if the baby is coming out headfirst, it's perfectly okay to opt for a vaginal delivery as early as 32 weeks. Researchers from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development looked at data from the Consortium of Safe Labor. It included documented information from more than 200,000 deliveries performed in multiple hospitals and medical facilities around the country between the years of 2002 and 2008.

"Selecting a route of delivery at less than 32 weeks gestation is a difficult clinical decision given the high rate of infant mortality and morbidity, as well as the maternal risks associated with cesarean delivery," said Uma Reddy, M.D., the lead investigator of the study. "For vertex-presenting fetuses less than 32 weeks gestation, we saw no improvement in neonatal mortality with a planned cesarean delivery."

There are several reasons why a physician may recommend a C-section, such as that the baby is in a breech position or is showing signs of distress, there is more than one infant, the mother has health problems or there are issues with the placenta or umbilical cord, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, if you don't fall under these categories, the safest way to deliver may be to do it vaginally.

Don't Be Worried About the Pain

Yes, there is a lot of pain associated with delivering naturally, but there are ways to decrease it. Not only are there medications, but there are also a bunch of natural methods of pain relief that you could try. To ease discomfort, breathing and relaxation techniques can be helpful. In addition, taking warm baths, getting massages, using hot and cold compresses, and listening to music are all great methods to keep you calm. 

If you're interested in medicinal relief, there are three groups of drugs that may help you. First, there are opioids that can make the pain bearable and allow a woman to have control of her muscles to push when the time comes. If the recipient is still in too much pain, a doctor might provide an epidural or spinal block, which numbs the lower body completely and very little discomfort is felt. Finally, a pudendal block can be inserted directly into the vagina right before the baby emerges.

Whatever you decide, moms having a preterm birth have options. Since it occurs in 50 percent of pregnancies, you may want to consider the possibility, just so that you're prepared.

Do you know any women who had preterm births? How did they deliver? Were they given a choice? Let our readers know, and leave your answers in the comments section!