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Delivery Decisions: C-Section vs Normal Delivery

If you’re deliberating between a vaginal birth and a caesarean delivery, let this article be your guiding light.

Counting down to your big day can be a period fraught with worries and woes. And big questions. Like how much will it hurt, how long will it take and what delivery method is best? The truth is, vaginal and caesarean deliveries each have their pros and cons, and your doctor may recommend either, based on your medical profile, birthing history and health of your baby. If you’re wondering what the difference is between these two birthing methods, allow us to cast a spotlight.

1. Vaginal Birth

A vaginal birth is the birth of a baby the ‘natural’ way, via the vagina. As a natural means of delivery, a vaginal birth allows for faster healing and a shorter hospital stay, as compared to a C-section. Also, this method of delivery seldom involves any surgical intervention and hence, holds a lower risk of scarring and complications. Here are the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Baby and body have enough time to prepare and respond to the birthing process
  • Baby’s movement through the vagina squeezes out trapped amniotic fluid in the lungs
  • Baby ingests healthy, immunity-boosting bacteria during passage through the vagina

Cons

  • Complete dependence on the body’s readiness for birth; inability to schedule the birth beforehand
  • Small risk of incontinence for a period after childbirth
  • Possible onset of anxiety and stress at the thought of impending, unpredictable labor
  • Possibility of sexual problems after childbirth
  • Risk of trauma to baby if forceps are used to lift the head out

2. Caesarean Birth

Unlike a vaginal birth, a caesarean birth, or a C-section as it is otherwise known, involves a surgical incision through the abdominal wall, into the uterus. A C-section may be recommended by your doctor if you have previously had C-sections, if your baby is in a breech position (head up, feet down) or if your medical condition isn’t conducive to a natural delivery. Alternatively, you may be given the option of an elective C-section for sheer practicality. A C-section is usually planned beforehand, so you know exactly when you will welcome your little sunshine into the world. The method entails a slower recovery and a longer hospital stay than a vaginal birth. Here are the pros and cons.

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Pros

  • Scheduled delivery; ability to plan leave and other important things beforehand
  • Can prepare mentally for childbirth; reduces stress and anxiety
  • Lower risk of urinary incontinence after childbirth
  • Lower risk of sexual problems after childbirth
  • Lower risk of birth trauma to baby due to minimal use of forceps

Cons

  • Since a C-section is pre-planned, baby may not be ready or mature enough to enter the world
  • If due date is incorrectly calculated, there is a risk of significant blood loss
  • In some cases, anesthesia can lead to complications
  • Surgery exposes the body to infections and blood clots
  • Twice the mortality rate for infants
  • Risk of reduced bowel function
  • Chances of problems with breastfeeding as lactation may not yet be in process

Whether you’re driven by decisions personal or professional, practical or emotional, ultimately, your birthing method should be a decision governed by you and your partner, and approved by your doctor. While you may want a natural birth, you may be advised a C-section for health reasons. Or vice versa. Childbirth doesn’t always go according to plan and it’s important to think ahead and discuss options with your doctor.

Also, have a Plan B in place. When you plan for the unexpected, chances are, you’ll know exactly what to expect.

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