A normal vaginal delivery is possible for many CDH pregnancies. Sometimes vaginal birth is recommended as it helps to compress fluid from a baby’s lungs. It is also worth considering that the recovery time from a vaginal birth may be shorter than that of a C-section, which can affect when a mother is able to visit her baby post birth.
Usually doctors will recommend a planned induction for birth around 38–39 weeks. This is so that a team of medical professionals is prepared in advance for the arrival of the baby, and so that a NICU bed is secured in advance where possible. It is not compulsory to have a planned induction, and of course sometimes babies come early. It is important to discuss your birth plan with your medical team and to make decisions that you feel comfortable with.
Once your baby is born, there will be a team of doctors who will put your baby straight onto a breathing machine. This is known as the process of intubation. It is unlikely that your baby can be held or have immediate skin-to-skin contact as it is important to ensure the baby’s body receives oxygen as soon as possible. This process should be discussed with your medical team while you are pregnant. For babies who have undiagnosed CDH, it is likely that post-birth breathing difficulties will be apparent – from here medical staff will intervene to ensure the baby’s body is oxygenated.
Coming to terms with a CDH pregnancy and birth is an emotional time for parents – especially mothers. It is understandable to feel sadness and grief and it is important to undertake self-care. This may be in the form of counselling or therapy, speaking to friends or family, getting in touch with our CDH community, journaling, or taking time away from work. For each mother, father, parent, and family, the feelings and needs will be different.