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Deciding Between Vaginal Birth And C-Section

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Selecting the mode of childbirth is an important decision greatly affecting both the mother and the baby. Both methods have their pros and cons. Either method can be suitable depending on your personal health factors as well. So know your facts before taking this big decision.

Making a decision about the mode of birth is of prime importance, both for the mother and the baby. It is every woman’s right to opt for the right mode and decide where to go and who is to assist her. However, it is important to make an informed decision based on facts as each method has its own pros and cons.

Vaginal Or Natural Birth

What Is The Procedure?

In a natural delivery, labor is initiated by the release of oxytocin, a natural hormone produced by the mother’s body to regulate and gradually escalate the birthing process. Such births can also be induced by giving the expectant mother synthetic oxytocin, which works pretty much the same way. The mother then experiences contractions of increasing intensity, the womb’s opening dilates, and the baby comes out once the dilation reaches its maximum level.

Natural births can range from 4–24 hours or more if the dilation proceeds slowly. Epidural anesthesia can be used to lessen the pain of the contractions, but this and synthetic oxytocin are associated with an extension of the laboring process.

Unless induced, vaginal birth happens only when the baby is ready to go. From the moment you pass the 37 week milestone, you are in the red zone; you are literally waiting for the contractions to start or your water to break at any moment.

What Are The Pros And Cons?

Most women feel that natural birth is a positive experience and feel empowered by being actively involved in the birthing process.

  • The mother can start breastfeeding immediately after childbirth. This triggers hormonal release in the mother, which helps control uterine bleeding.
  • Skin-to-skin contact is highly encouraged and possible, supporting and speeding up the bonding process between the mother and her newborn.
  • This method has a shorter recovery time compared to C-sections.
  • Babies born naturally experience less medical complications and less respiratory problems. Going through the birth canal squeezes fluids out of the baby’s lungs, making respiration easier and less problematic.
  • It also ensures that the baby receives maternal vaginal bacteria from the birth canal, which populate the newborn’s gut and form the first intestinal flora. While the baby interacts and receives maternal bacteria throughout pregnancy, going through the birth canal means that every part of the baby is literally covered in the beneficial flora. It is believed that receiving the mother’s bacteria has long-term health benefits for the baby, especially lower rates of allergies.

The main disadvantage is that the mothers cannot schedule when and how to give birth. Also, usually, the mothers go through intense pain without anesthesia.

C-Section Or Surgical Birth

What Is The Procedure?

A c-section is a relatively simple operation. The mother’s belly is surgically cut and the baby is pulled out of her body. A c-section can be your choice or chosen due to an emergency where either life is at risk. It is considered the delivery mode of choice for big babies (cases of macrosomia), twins, and breech babies. However, whether all these cases represent a medical emergency and natural birth should instead be a reasonable and safe option is still under debate. In fact, according to the new guidelines by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, breech babies will not automatically be scheduled for c-section anymore.

What Are The Pros And Cons?

An undisputed convenience of c-section is that it allows you to plan how and when to give birth. It is a fast and relatively easy way to deliver a baby. However, c-section comes with several health challenges for both the mother and the baby.

  • Maternal recovery is longer and more painful.
  • As with all operations, there is a significant risk for post-operative hospital infections, some of which are difficult to treat.
  • It limits the ability of the mother to breastfeed immediately after birth, which limits the hormonal triggers to reduce uterine bleeding and the bonding with her baby.
  • The most important problems for the mother arise in the next pregnancy. C-section increases sharply the risk for developing placenta accreta (when the placenta burrows into the uterine muscle rather than simply attaching to the lining) and placenta previa (when the placenta partially or entirely covers the cervix), both conditions with a significant risk of life-threatening bleeding for the mother.
  • Babies born through a c-section tend to have more respiratory problems and are twice as likely to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit for this. They also have a higher incidence of asthma.
  • It does not allow babies to receive the mother’s vaginal bacteria. Research has found that there is a significant difference in the kind of bacteria found in the gut of babies born vaginally and those born with a c-section. While babies born naturally have more beneficial bacterial strains, those born surgically have more bacteria in the skin, some of them potential pathogens. This distinct difference is believed to be the root of many chronic health problems that manifest throughout childhood and even adulthood.

Consider all the facts and choices carefully before opting any method as this might have both a short- and a long-term impact on you and your baby.

 

Eleni Roumeliotou
Star Expert

Hi! I´m Eleni, fertility and pregnancy nutrition expert and founder of Primal Baby, a health sanctuary for all things pregnancy - before, during and after. I help women who are trying to conceive or are already pregnant to optimise their diet and lifestyle for succesful conception and a healthy baby

Eleni Roumeliotou
Star Expert

Hi! I´m Eleni, fertility and pregnancy nutrition expert and founder of Primal Baby, a health sanctuary for all things pregnancy - before, during and after. I help women who are trying to conceive or are already pregnant to optimise their diet and lifestyle for succesful conception and a healthy baby