There are two methods for babies to be born: vaginal birth or surgically through a cesarean section. Both methods ultimately aim to protect the mother and child’s health.
A C-section may be anticipated in some situations and scheduled beforehand, such as when there are twins or other multiples, a medical condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, or an infection that could be transmitted to the baby during birth, like HIV or genital herpes, or issues with the placenta.
A C-section might also be required if the mother has a limited pelvis and the baby is particularly big, or if the baby is not in the heads-down position and attempts to turn the baby into this position before birth have not been successful.
When the mother, the baby, or both are in danger, an obstetrician may decide to deliver the baby through an emergency C-section. If labor progresses too slowly or the baby isn’t getting enough oxygen, these issues may arise either during pregnancy or after the woman has given birth.
Some C-sections are requested before labor begins and are regarded as elective. When deciding when to give birth, someone may decide to have a C-section, especially if their last vaginal delivery was complicated. There aren’t many benefits to having a C-section, however, if someone is eligible for a vaginal delivery, according to Dr. Allison Bryant, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
C-sections do have dangers even though they are typically regarded as safe and, in some circumstances, lifesaving. The technique, which entails opening up the abdomen and extracting the infant from the uterus, requires extensive surgery. Vaginal birth is typically the recommended technique of delivery for first pregnancies because first-time C-sections frequently result in C-sections in future pregnancies.
Vaginal Birth or Natural Delivery – Pros and Cons
Pros of Vaginal Birth/Natural Delivery
- Compared to C-sections, vaginal births often require shorter hospital stays and recovery periods. Even though state laws differ, Bryant told Live Science that a hospital stay following a vaginal delivery often lasts 24 to 48 hours, though it may be shorter depending on the state.
- The dangers of major surgery, such as serious bleeding, scars, infections, reactions to anesthesia, and more intense pain, are often avoided with vaginal births. Additionally, a woman might be able to start breastfeeding earlier because major surgery is not necessary.
- According to Bryant, a mother who gives birth vaginally will be able to breastfeed her child more quickly than she would be able to if she had a C-section.
- Bryant said that after a vaginal delivery, the muscles involved are more likely to push out the fluid in a newborn’s lungs, which is beneficial because it lowers the likelihood that babies would experience breathing difficulties at birth.
Cons of Vaginal Delivery/Natural Delivery
- Vaginal delivery is a long, physically taxing process that requires labor. According to the maternal-and-baby health group March of Dimes, first-time mothers often spend between four and eight hours in active labor, which is when their cervix is fully dilated and their bodies are ready to push.
- Additionally, the perineum, which is located between the vagina and the anus, may continue to hurt after a vaginal delivery.
- The skin and surrounding tissues around the vagina run the danger of stretching and rupturing during a vaginal delivery when the fetus moves through the birth canal. Stitches may be needed for severe tears and stretching. The pelvic muscles that regulate bowel and urine functions may become weak or suffer an injury as a result of this stretching and tearing.
- Women who gave birth vaginally were more likely than women who gave birth via C-section to develop pelvic organ prolapse, which is when one or more organs drop into the pelvis, and urinary incontinence, which causes urine to leak when a person laughs, sneezes, or coughs.
- According to Stanford Children’s Health, a newborn may sustain an injury during the vaginal birth process itself, resulting in a bruised scalp or a fractured collarbone, if a woman has had a long labor or if the baby is large.