While in most cases vaginal delivery is the most natural and uncomplicated way to deliver a baby, more and more women are opting for Cesarean Sections. Today C-sections make up about 30% of all births. Since every woman can choose how they would like their delivery, it is important to understand the risks and advantages of both options.
From a psychological standpoint, women who go through with a vaginal delivery are said to have a more positive birthing experience. Women who go through vaginal delivery sometimes feel it is empowering to know they were actively involved in the process. Mothers who deliver through vaginal birth have a shorter recovery time than those who opt for C-sections. This method of birthing also allows the mother and baby to make skin to skin contact immediately after delivery, speeding up the bonding process.
Babies born via vaginal delivery tend to have less medical complications as well. They are able to breast feed sooner, have less allergies, and have less respiratory problems.
Vaginal delivery can be stressful as you will not be completely sure how long your delivery will take. Vaginal deliveries may increase your likelihood of pelvic organ prolapse after delivery. Women with vaginal deliveries have higher rates of urinary incontinence (urine leaks) than women with c-sections.
Your baby may experience physical trauma while passing through the birth canal, including bruising, swelling, and in rare cases broken bones.
Many women opt for Cesarean sections so that they do not need to go through long hours of labor. Planned Cesarean section surgeries allow the expectant mother to plan for the birth, giving more control over when the birth occurs and allowing more predictability. Women who have C-sections do not incur damage to the pelvic floor, which can lead to incontinence over the years.
If your baby is large, also known as macrosomia, or you are having twins, a C-section may be the best option for delivery. Also, if you have certain diseases like HIV and your blood tests near the end of pregnancy indicate a high viral load, a C-section will decrease the risk of passing an infection on to your baby.
Sometimes the decision by an obstetrician to perform a C-section is unplanned, and it is done for emergency reasons because the health of the mother, the baby, or both of them is in jeopardy.
A c-section is a major abdominal surgery that comes with surgical risks and complications from anesthesia. Anesthesia side effects may include severe headache, nausea, and vomiting. Anesthesia may also affect the baby, causing him or her to be sluggish or inactive when born. Breastfeeding is more difficult after a cesarean delivery. Women are uncomfortable after surgery, and they do not have immediate contact with their baby.
Women with planned cesarean sections have longer hospital stays and a longer postpartum recovery period than women with vaginal deliveries.
Respiratory problems are more common in babies delivered via c-section.
If you plan on having a larger family, you may want to think twice about a planned cesarean section. After one or more c-sections, in future pregnancies, you are at increased risk for developing placenta previa and placenta accreta. Having a previous cesarean also increases your risk of uterine rupture.