Should I Have a C-Section or Vaginal Delivery?

March 24, 2019
Bringing a baby into the world is a wonderful experience. To do so, some women some opt for C-section in order to avoid pain, while others prefer a traditional vaginal birth.

Choosing between C-section or vaginal delivery is a common question among pregnant women. Some opt for the traditional method and deliver their babies vaginally. However, others prefer to have the largest number of variables under control and therefore choose a C-section.

Vaginal birth is a natural process. However, a lot of women want to avoid it due to fear of the pain or because it might cause irreversible damage to their vagina. From a functional scope, a C-section is incredible. After all, for medical reasons it can better protect the life of mother and baby.

However, there’s much more to this decision than just that.

A C-section versus Vaginal Delivery

Babies are born every day, either by C-section or vaginal birth, and the decision is up to the parents to be and their obstetrician. Generally, the latter will be present during the birth, and is therefore responsible for determining the ideal method according to each situation.

In addition, this decision could change at the last minute as labor begins. The most common reason happens for this is because of a high-risk delivery. Then, the doctor decides to perform a C-section on the fly.

The Differences Between a C-section and Vaginal Delivery

The biggest difference between natural delivery and C-section is that the latter is a surgical intervention that lasts between 20 and 30 minutes. If pre-scheduled, it should be performed after 39 weeks of gestation, unless the doctor indicates otherwise.

Physical Differences

“What is less painful: C-section or natural birth?”

This is a common question among first-time mothers-to-be. There’s no vaginal dilation with surgery, unlike vaginal delivery. Therefore, that kind of pain isn’t present with a C-section.

In general, this intervention is performed with an epidural, a type of anesthesia that produces a sensory and motor block of the lower part of the body. It affects about four inches above the navel down to the lower extremities. However, at the same time the mother-to-be remains awake. The effect lasts between an hour and an hour and a half. During the 24 and 48 hours after, pain is controlled with intravenous pain-killers and anti-inflammatory drugs.

While pain is more controlled during a C-section, there may be some pain after it takes place while the woman is recovering.

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The Baby’s Immune System

Before birth, babies are practically sterile – free of worldly virus and bacteria, that is. However, some bacteria are necessary for the proper functioning of the organs. For this reason, when the child is born vaginally, they get the healthy bacteria from their mother.

Now, if a C-section is performed, the baby doesn’t receive the maternal microbiota. In general, they’ll just absorb it from the environment in which they were born and from the people around them, and eventually also from their mother. Unfortunately, however, most of these foreign bacteria are unknown to their immune system.

A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen concluded that C-section deliveries produce a long-term deficit of motherly bacteria that are key to the prevention of immune diseases.

The intestinal flora of children born vaginally is different from that of those delivered by C-section. The latter has a lower amount of cells related to immune factors. Thus, it increases the risk of suffering from diseases such as type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease or severe allergies.

Postpartum Care

After a C-section or natural birth, women require a lot of rest for their body to heal. So, no housework is allowed. Also, if they have other children, they should be careful not to deplete themselves by dealing with their needs and level of energy.

The postpartum period is often one of the most difficult times for mothers and their families. Furthermore, this stage is a lot more complex for women who had a cesarean section.

In both cases, the new mother should get enough rest and avoid lifting anything heavy.

When it comes to vaginal birth, however, the pain is a momentary. With the C-section, on the other hand, it will take several days and even weeks to heal. In order to perform the cesarean section, surgery must be performed and, for this reason, the woman will have two scars – both an external scar in the epidermis of her skin and an internal one in heruterus.

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Economic Differences

Because a C-section is a surgical procedure the medical costs are higher. In addition to the obstetrician and pediatrician who receive the baby, it requires a whole team of doctors, specialists, and nurses trained to attend anything that may arise.

Also, the C-section takes place in an equipped surgical room. On the other hand, natural childbirth takes place in a room conditioned to deliver the baby. In addition to the epidural, vaginal delivery doesn’t require anesthesia. Unless there’s a complication, the mother-to-be doesn’t need antibiotics or intravenous medications.

Why and When to Choose C-section or Vaginal Delivery

Many people struggle between opting for C-section or vaginal delivery for their baby. Although the latter is usually safer for the mother and the baby, there are instances in which it’s necessary to perform a cesarean delivery.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a C-section

Advantages

  • First, because an epidural injection is applied to the abdomen, the sensitivity from the waist to the feet is lost. And so, the C-section is “pain-free” – sort of.
  • Second, the birthday of the child can be programmed depending on what suits the parents.
  • Finally, surgery only lasts three to four hours, including preparation time and recovery.

Disadvantages

  • It’s a surgery with anesthesia, and any surgical intervention carries risks of infection and damage to other organs.
  • Recovery time takes from one to two months, at least.
  • New mothers find it difficult to get up and walk during the first week. It requires a lot of support from family and friends.
  • Among the adverse effects of anesthesia, there’s nausea, dizziness, and vomiting during the days after the C-section.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Vaginal Delivery

Advantages

  • The collateral risks of vaginal birth, such as excessive blood loss, damage to the kidneys and chances of getting infections are lower than in the C-section.
  • Blood pressure stays more stable.
  • The supply of oxygen to the placenta, and to the baby, is better than during the cesarean section.
  • The baby is born more alert because going through the vaginal canal stimulates their senses.
  • The mother’s body releases oxytocin, which favors the production of milk and the bond between mother and baby.

Disadvantages

  • There’s a risk of suffering postpartum urinary incontinence.
  • Vaginal birth happens spontaneously, unlike C-section.
  • There’s a risk of a vaginal tear. In addition, there’s a possibility that the doctor chooses to perform an episiotomy.

If you haven’t yet decided on a C-section or vaginal birth, you can discuss it with your obstetrician. After all, they have your medical history and know about your baby’s development in the womb. In some cases, a C-section is recommended if the baby is upside down or hasn’t been placed in the correct position to exit the uterus.

Women who are older than 35 years are more prone to complications during natural childbirth, so they should schedule a C-section. Thus, they’ll have a team of specialized doctors looking after them.

Conclusion

Mothers who choose vaginal delivery are more aware of what’s happening around them and wish for a complete experience in regard to the arrival of their baby in the world. They can even see and have their little one in their arms as soon as their baby’s born.

However, there are many reasons why a woman would choose a C-section. Either way, it’s important to take into account that each pregnant woman has different needs. Therefore, the final decision must be considered carefully, and with the advice of their obstetrician.