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Vaginal Birth or C-Section: What You Need to Know

February 23, 2018
There are two ways babies are born... vaginally or via Cesarean Section (C-Section). And while there's no 100% right answer as to which method is best, there are things you should know when choosing which is best for you and your baby. First, we'll talk about what each type of birth entails, and then provide pros and cons.
Vaginal Delivery
A vaginal delivery is exactly that; it happens when your baby passes from your uterus through your vagina to be born. Your uterus contracts and helps propel your baby through the birth canal. This can happen unmedicated or with medical assistance such as an epidural. Typically, a vaginal birth is what most medical professionals recommend as ideal. However, there are instances where a C-section is safer, which we'll get into later. Pros
  • Involves a (typically) shorter hospital stay than with a C-section, and a (typically) shorter recovery time postpartum.
  • Avoids major surgery and its complications/risks.
  • Allows for more immediate contact between baby and mother.
  • Babies are less likely to suffer breathing problems at birth because the force of exiting the birth canal expels fluid from their lungs. They're also less likely to develop asthma, food allergies and lactose intolerance, which may be due to being exposed to good bacterial in the birth canal.
  • Increased risk of skin and tissues tearing when baby exits, which may require stitches. Some doctors may also utilize episiotomies (though they should be avoided, as it's better to tear naturally than to be cut), which also require stitches and take a while to heal.
  • May be more prone to bowel issues or incontinence than women who have C-sections. And you may be more prone to leak urine when you cough, sneeze or laugh.
  • Women may experience lingering pain in the perineum, which is the area between the vagina and anus.
  • If the labor is long and arduous, there is a chance that the baby could be injured during the process.
C-section Delivery
A C-section delivery is a surgical procedure used to deliver your baby through incisions in your abdomen and uterus. It is considered major surgery, and is typically used in instances where pregnancy complications (such as when your baby is in a breech position, when you're carrying more than one child and/or if your labor isn't progressing) are present. Also, if you have a big baby and a small pelvis, it can be safer to deliver via C-section. Pros
  • Increased convenience because you're able to schedule your birth in advance and plan accordingly with your work or other activities.
  • Decreased trauma to your vagina and its surrounding areas, especially if you don't go into labor on your own.
  • You are typically less likely to develop a pelvic floor injury and have fewer cases of urinary incontinence in the weeks following your baby's birth.
  • If you know that you need a C-section, you can have increased peace of mind and less anxiety about how the process will progress, and have a greater sense of control.
  • Typically involves a longer hospital stay and a longer postpartum recovery time.
  • Increased chance of blood loss and other surgical complications.
  • More likely to have subsequent C-sections with future pregnancies, though VBAC may be a possibility.
  • Less likely able to immediately bond with your baby, and may have a more difficult time initiating breastfeeding.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you and your baby are safe. And trusting your doctor or midwife, arming yourself with the knowledge you need and listening to your mama instinct will all help empower you to make the best decision for your child and yourself. You are a warrior, regardless of how you give birth.

Author Bio

Lauren Soderberg

Wife of one tall drink of water. Mama of two spunky kids. Lover of awkwardly long hashtags and unicorn emojis. And babies, obviously.