Natural Birth Vs C-Section: Everything You Need To Know
Expecting a baby? Congratulations! You’re probably wondering which option is best for you: natural birth or cesarean delivery. Well, here is a closer look at both options and how to choose the best option for you.
Definitions: Natural Birth Vs. C-section
Natural birth is the term that is most commonly used to refer to vaginal delivery. It can be done with or without any specified medical intervention. On the other hand, C-section is a delivery option that involves a surgical procedure to remove the baby. It can either be medically required or planned.
The Procedure: Natural Birth vs. C-Section
When having a vaginal birth, you’ll usually go through 3 phases of labor: early, active, and transitional. Your doctor will periodically examine you throughout this process until you become fully dilated (your cervix opens to about 10 cm). When this happens, you’ll be encouraged to push the baby out.
Once the baby is delivered, you’ll still have minor contractions as your body prepares to deliver the placenta. On average, labor and delivery can last 12-14 hours for first-time moms. It is usually faster for subsequent births.
On the other hand, C-sections take around 45 minutes. The doctor makes an incision through the abdomen and uterus to remove the baby. Once the baby is delivered, the umbilical cord is cut, the placenta removed, and the incision is closed.
Recovery And Healing: Natural Birth Vs. C-Section
In a vaginal delivery, the first 6 weeks afterward are considered to be the “recovery period”. This is because the duration of recovery and healing varies from woman to woman. If you had no perineal tears or an episiotomy, you can make a full recovery in as little as three weeks. However, if you tore or needed an episiotomy, you will likely need the full six weeks.
On the other hand, it takes longer to recover from a C-section. Recovery in the hospital may take longer. Most people are able to go home after 3-4 days. Within the first 4-6 weeks you may also experience bleeding, mild cramping, and discharge. A full recovery will take 8 or more weeks.
Planned Cesarean Birth
You might have a planned or elective C-section for medical reasons or if there are indications in your third trimester that you or your little one might have issues with a vaginal birth. The most common reasons for doing this are:
- The baby is breech/ positioned bottom or feet first and can’t be turned
- You are pregnant with multiples
- Health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes
- Your cervix is covered by the placenta - this is known as placenta praevia
Unplanned Cesarean Birth
An unplanned or emergency C-section might take place when there are issues with either your health or your little one’s health during your labor or in your pregnancy. You can have one if:
- The fetus is in distress
- Your cervix opens too slowly
- Labor doesn’t progress normally
- Issues like placental abruption or prolapsed umbilical cord
If you do not know exactly what to go for, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor about your options and the best choice for you based on you and your baby’s health. This way, you will arrive at a tailor-made solution that is perfect for your unique situation.