Can Short Women Go Through Vaginal Birth?

Editorial Team

Often times, pregnant women are advised to go through C-section instead of vaginal birth because they are short to give birth vaginally. But is being short definitely make you a candidate for C-section.

But is it right to judge if a woman should go through vaginal birth or not because of her height?  According to Dr Stephen Mutiso, an obstetrician / gynaecologist at Kenyatta National Hospital, a diagnosis of cephalo-pelvic disproportion (CPD) is often the key determinant in such cases. Cephalo refers to the size of the baby's head, and pelvic means the size of the birth passage.

A diagnosis of CPD means that either the baby's head is too big for the woman's pelvis, or the pelvis is too small for a normal sized baby. In women diagnosed with CPD, normal delivery is difficult and at times impossible.

"Small women tend to have a small pelvis, and are likely to have difficulties during delivery. Any woman with a small pelvis and whose baby indicates being slightly bigger compared to her pelvis is not advised to try normal delivery," he says.

However, Dr Mutiso clarifies that there are short women who have small babies and go on to have successful normal deliveries, hence the need for proper assessment by the health professional during antenatal care or when labour begins.

"This assessment will help determine if the pelvis is adequate enough to allow baby to pass through. If the baby's size is small to average, then labour should be considered," he says. 

However, Dr Mutiso warns that attempts shouldn't be made to push a baby that cannot pass through a small pelvis as "this could lead to prolonged labour and cause obstruction, which in turn may result in complications such as fistula, rupture of the uterus, serious infection, excessive bleeding after birth and foetal distress. In some instances, both mother and baby may die."

Dr Mutiso says that if the woman successfully gives birth through vaginal delivery she can sustain serious perineal tears or cause damage to her reproductive organs. Also, after attempts has been made for the woman to give birth vaginally fails, if the pregnant woman later has to go through C-section, it can lead to complications.

In all, although every pregnant woman plan to give birth vaginally, every woman has to have it in mind that there are some situations that can necessitate C-section. For example, failure to progress during labour, foetal distress, and excessive bleeding and if this is the only way to safely give birth to your baby, just do it.