Natural Birth vs C Section – Pros & Cons

Normal Delivery Vs Caesarean – Advantages & Disadvantages

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sabiha Anjum (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Pregnant and looking forward to the big day? All to-be-parents are faced with the big question of whether to go with the long-followed traditional method of a vaginal birth, or to go for the popularity-gaining Cesarean or C-section birth. Let’s talk about the benefits and risks of both procedures, for both mom and baby.

Vaginal Birth vs C-Section Delivery

Mothers have been giving birth ever since the beginning of time, when there were no ultrasound machines or even hospitals. It is now with the advancements in technology that mothers have an option of choosing another way of childbirth, and avoiding going through long and painful labour. A comparison of C-section versus a normal delivery gives parents important insights into their options for childbirth.

Vaginal Birth

The natural way of delivery or vaginal birth is always recommended. Having a baby through this traditional way is said to have several health benefits both for the mother and the child. Here are some points you can consider before making your choice:

1. Pros of Vaginal Delivery

Being the natural way, it is a preferred choice, and has a number of plus points you should consider for both the mother and the baby.

For Mother

  • The mother gets to actively participate in the process, giving her a more positive and empowering experience.
  • The skin to skin contact during the process ensures better bonding between the baby and the mother.
  • Recovery is much faster, with mothers usually being able to walk without any pain the same day, as compared to needing at least a day’s rest after a surgical method. In a week’s time, the mother is generally fully recovered from a vaginal birth.
  • There is no scarring, or need to take care of stitches. The visits to the hospital are also fewer. Care will be required if an episiotomy is given, but it is relatively faster and better.
  • You may also get to choose to deliver at home rather than the hospital. However, this must only be thought of after a proper consultation with your doctor.

For Baby

  • When opting for a vaginal delivery, the baby is also ready to come out of the womb.
  • During the process of being pushed out from the vagina, the baby’s lungs expel the amniotic fluids filled in them, allowing normal breathing and less respiratory problems.
  • Babies born through vaginal delivery undergo fewer complications. There are less instances of allergies, and they also begin breastfeeding earlier.
  • The baby inhales the good bacteria when coming through the birth canal, which helps in boosting the immune system.

2. Cons of Vaginal Delivery

While there are benefits, there still remain a few risks while opting for vaginal delivery that should be known:

For Mother

  • With natural delivery, the time of childbirth remains uncertain, and there is no way to schedule it. Delivery is entirely dependent on the mother’s body.
  • Going into labour accompanies pain and stress. There is no fixed duration of labour, either. It can be short, lasting for a few hours, or may go on for a long time. However, there are a few drugs which may help with labour, and are given as per the doctor’s decision.
  • Sometimes, there are complications that can lead to a drop in the baby’s heart rate. In such situations, the mother maybe given anaesthesia, and taken for an emergency C-section.
  • Post vaginal delivery, there maybe a few sexual problems faced by the mother, due to injuries sustained during delivery.

For Baby

  • Sometimes when the baby is large, one might need assistance during delivery with suction cups or forceps.
  • There are some instances of the baby suffering an injury while passing through the vagina.

Cesarean Section

Cesarean, or C-section, delivery is the surgical method for childbirth. A small incision is made in the abdominal region, which penetrates the uterus, to take the baby out. C-sections can be planned after consulting with the doctor, and depends on the mother’s health. When the mother has health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or infections like HIV, then a C-section is the preferred choice of childbirth. Also, if there are some problems during natural delivery, like the baby not getting oxygen or labour taking too long, then an emergency C-section is done.

Cesarean Section

1. Pros of C-section

Cesarean has become a popular choice, since it has quite a few benefits. These are the pros for C-section childbirth:

For Mother

  • When it is a planned procedure, it gives the parents the advantage of planning the birth.
  • The mother can avoid long hours of labour by opting for a C-section. This lets the mother avoid all the stress of labour pain.
  • The mother usually does not face any sexual problems post a C-section birth.

For Baby

  • The baby is less likely to be affected by any infections being carried by the mother.
  • There are fewer chances of the baby being injured during birth.

2. Cons of C-section

Besides the benefits listed above, there are a few cons that should also be evaluated:

For Mother

Like any other major surgery, C-section also carries a few risks:

  • The use of anaesthesia adds to the risk of complications.
  • There is greater blood loss.
  • There are risks of infection. The care of the wound needs to be ensured, to facilitate the healing process. This also means more visits to the hospital for routine check-ups.
  • The recovery period is longer as compared to that from natural childbirth.
  • The breastfeeding process might get delayed, too. This can have an effect on the bonding between the mother and the baby.
  • C-sections have a higher mortality rate, for both baby and mother. Being put under anaesthesia increases these risks.

For Baby

  • Since it is not a natural birth, but is decided by the surgeon and the parents, the baby may not be prepared to come out of the mother’s womb.
  • In some cases, the baby faces respiratory problems after being born.

Recommended Ways to Avoid a Cesarean Birth

  • Choose your health care provider carefully. It helps to know the statistics of the number of C-sections done by the doctor, his/her views on both vaginal and C-section childbirth, and also the mortality rate. These details can help with making the choice.
  • Hiring doulas who are professionals and experts on pregnancy and childbirth can help with additional assistance during your pregnancy, and also give you guidance to induce labour with fewer complications.
  • Going for birthing classes is a good idea, especially those that teach breathing exercises and give pointers on how to get through labour in a natural manner without any medication.
  • Having a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise increases your chances of being prepared for a vaginal birth.

Both these ways of childbirth have their pros and cons, and before making the choice, parents should consider all the factors, and consult with their health care provider. Although natural birth is a less invasive and traditional way, going into labour can be a painful and stressful process. Also, even after opting for vaginal delivery, there are chances of things not going according to plan, and the doctor may have to perform an emergency C-section. Natural delivery and C-section are both techniques which have been around for a while, and are well tried and tested. Eventually, the final decision is for the parents to make, after evaluating all the aspects.

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