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Planned Caesarean vs. Normal Delivery: Which is Better When?

There are several things to consider when it comes to choosing a birthing method – your birthing history, the risk involved, and the possibility of scheduling your delivery (specifically if your maternity leave comes at a premium).

If you’ve had a relatively easy pregnancy and have received your doctor’s okay for either a vaginal delivery or an elective C-section, you may want to consider your options carefully.

Ultimately, the decision is yours, although your doctor will play a pivotal role in guiding you to it. If you’re ping-ponging between a vaginal delivery and a C-section, this guide should help shed some light on each method and its respective pros and cons.

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Important Considerations in Choosing a Delivery Method

Before zeroing in on a method, discuss a birthing plan with your doctor. Lay down your expectations, your concerns and practical aspects such as the length of your maternity leave. For many career women, a scheduled C-section enables meticulous planning and the maximisation of leave after the baby’s birth.

Keep in mind that pregnancy and childbirth aren’t a perfect science, and unplanned events may derail your original birth plan.

Whichever method you choose, remember to always have a Plan B.

If you’re keen on having a natural birth, review the birthing history of the hospital and gynaecologist that you’re working with. A positive track record isn’t always a guarantee, but it is a helpful indicator of your chances of delivering naturally. Likewise, if you plan on having a scheduled C-section, a past history of caesarean cases can offer a valuable keyhole into the quality of hands you’re in. Here’s a look at both methods of delivery, their considerations and risks.

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Caesarean Method

A caesarean section is a surgical delivery method in which incisions are made in the mother’s abdomen and womb to extract the baby. It is considered a safe procedure and is generally recommended when a natural delivery may prove too risky for the mother. The procedure is also increasingly being opted for by women for non-medical reasons.

Must read - Can you plan a Caesarean?

Considerations                                                                                                                                                  Risks

Multiple pregnancy                                                                                                                 Longer hospital stay

Problems with labour progression                                                                                         Higher chances of complications

Fetal health complications that could be aggravated

with a vaginal delivery                                                                                                          More pain and longer healing time due to incision wound

Large baby that could prove difficult to deliver vaginally                                                  Weakened abdominal muscles

Previous C-section                                                                                                             Higher chances of blood loss or clots

Baby in a breech position                                                                                                   Makes early breastfeeding a struggle

Placental complications                                                                                                   Higher risk of subsequent C-sections

Problems with the umbilical cord                                                                                   Higher risk of future pregnancy complications

Elective C-section                                                                                                              Higher risk of infant issues at birth.

Vaginal Method

Vaginal delivery is a delivery that happens spontaneously through the vagina, without any surgical intervention. Vaginal deliveries are always a preferred option for childbirth because they present far fewer risks than C-sections.

Considerations                                                                                                                                                                              Cons

Shorter hospital stay                                                                                                                        Physically exhausting delivery

Quicker recovery                                                                                                                              Possibility of vaginal tearing (can be repaired with stitches or an                                                                                                                                                            episiotomy)

Helps clear the baby’s lungs of fluid on the way

down the vaginal canal                                                                                                                 Weakened pelvic floor

Baby comes in contact with immunity-boosting bacteria

in the vaginal canal                                                                                                                 Temporary urinary incontinence

Higher likelihood of immediate breastfeeding

Zero surgical risks such as infections, blood clots, blood loss, scarring and med-related complications

Quicker skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby.

While vaginal deliveries and C-sections both have their own pros and cons, it’s well-accepted that the benefits of a normal delivery far outweigh those of a caesarean.

Speak to your doctor to understand the nuances of both a vaginal and a C-section birth, and, if the decision is left up to you, ask yourself what your priorities are. At the end of the day, you should feel comfortable bringing your baby into the world. And there’s no better person to give you that comfort than you.

Must read - What is the difference between a caesarean and vaginal delivery?

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