Vaginal delivery vs Caesarean section

As the big day approaches, are you nervous and undecided about what way to adopt to welcome you little bundle of joy into this world? Have you had numerous discussions with friends and family with similar experiences but are still unable to choose whats best for you?

Don’t worry. This blog will facilitate you decision making process by laying out in simple language what each procedure entails and what are the benefits and risks of each.

Vaginal birth

As the natural birthing process, vaginal birth is the way to go for expectant mothers who do not suffer from any contraindications for the same. In this process, as your body and womb becomes ready to push out your little one, you start experiencing contractions which increase in frequency and intensity till your baby is entirely pushed out of your vagina.

Pros:

  • Natural
  • Fast recovery time
  • Reduced hospital stay
  • Bonding with your baby
  • Baby benefits-
  1. Being pushed out of a narrow birth canal empties the baby’s lungs of amniotic fluid and helps establish breathing
  2. Ingesting some healthy bacteria from the mother’s birth canal will help establish a healthy intestinal flora in the baby

Cons:

  • Longer duration
  • No surety of exact time of onset of labour- anxiety and stress
  • Complications like vaginal and perineal tears
  • Maternal exhaustion and inability to push
  • Non-progress of labour leading to emergency surgery
  • Long term complications like urinary and bowel incontinence
  • Baby problems-
  1. Baby may get stuck in the birth canal and need to be pulled out by using forceps or vacuum cup-may lead to head injury

Caesarean Section

Caesarean section is a surgical procedure where an incision is made in the lower part of the abdomen and uterus to pull the baby out.

Whereas earlier, C-section was almost always considered an emergency procedure for complicated vaginal birth or in patients with contraindications to vaginal birth such as small pelvis, big baby, previous abdominal surgery, medical complications like high blood pressure, diabetes etc; now a concept of Elective caesarean is becoming popular. It is a situation where expectant parents opt to forego a normal labour trial and choose to have a caesarean at the outset itself.

So what are the benefits of this choice?

Pros:

  • Timed, so no anxiety or stress
  • Short duration of surgery
  • No long term complictions like urinary incontinence, prolapse etc
  • No sexual discomfort post delivery
  • Baby benefits-
  1. No risk of head injury
  2. No risk of anoxia for the baby from secondary arrest of labour

Cons:

  • Greater blood loss
  • Longer hospital stay
  • Future pregnancies may need to be terminated only through C-section
  • Rare long term compliactions like uterine rupture along scar line during next pregnancy
  • Baby problems-
  1. Breathing difficulty may be an issue

The process of birth is an entirely personal choice. You need to discuss and decide your options with your spouse and your gynaecologist. As every pregnancy is unique and each expectant mother has her own views and opinions, your doctor will evaluate your overall physical and psychological health and the way your pregnancy is progressing before advising you on the method of childbirth. Some women may not be able to deal with the longer duration of pain and the process of vaginal birth even if there is no other indication for a caesarean. Your gynaecologist can discuss your options with you and suggest a medical course of action such as an epidural to enable you to have a vaginal delivery sans the pain, if you so desire. Take an informed decision that is best for your health and your baby’s development.

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