C-Section or Vaginal Delivery- Which one is better?

C-Section or Vaginal Delivery- Which one is better?

C-section is one of the ways to deliver a baby. Many times it is a medical necessity but sometimes it is also a choice of the mom-to-be.

The safest delivery is vaginal but C-sections are way more common than vaginal deliveries. The C-section is also called a cesarean delivery, which is a complicated method for childbirth.

How to decide if you need a C-section?

The fear of cesarean deliveries is not completely true. It is safe but it may have more risks than a normal vaginal delivery. That is why doctors prefer normal deliveries and not C-sections. Only if it is a medical need, C-section is preferred over vaginal delivery.

It is easy to understand this with an example. Suppose if a baby is breech and doesn’t change his position. When the due date is near and there is no change in the baby’s position, the doctor has no choice than scheduling a c-section. However, it is possible for the baby to change his position before delivery. In that case, the doctors make the best choice.

There are many other medical reasons too where cesarean delivery is usually scheduled. Some people like to go for a C-section without any medical reason. It is not recommended for the greater risks of future complications. C-section is major surgery and like all other surgeries, it may cause any of the following.

  • Extreme blood loss
  • Organ/organs damage
  • Allergic reactions
  • Side effects to anesthesia
  • General infections
  • Blood clots and clogging

Should you go for a C-section?

The non-medical C-section is called an elective cesarean delivery. Although it is not recommended your doctor may sometimes allow this.

Mostly women who prefer C-section feel more secure and protective about their body and the baby. It also eases the stress that relates to the due date, childbirth, and labor.

Usually, doctors give both cesarean and vaginal delivery options to expecting mothers. But just because there is an option doesn’t mean that there will be no complications of C-section. It comes with both benefits and risks.

Note that a few health insurance plans do not cover elective cesarean deliveries.

Image is taken from “momjunction”

Benefits of having a C-section

  • Eases the stress with childbirth
  • Lowers the risk of post-delivery sexual dysfunction
  • Reduces the risk of oxygen deficiency to the baby (during delivery)
  • Decreases the risk of trauma to baby during the delivery

Risks of having a C-section

  • The higher risk of more C-sections in future pregnancies
  • More complications affecting the overall health of the mother
  • Longer hospital stay
  • Longer recovery time
  • More expensive

When is C-section absolutely necessary?

Sometimes the doctor schedules a C-section before the due date. It usually happens when the doctor had no choice other than C-section due to medical reasons.

Following are the top medical reasons when a C-section becomes absolutely necessary.

When the labor is prolonged

Prolonged labor is the sign of no progress and it is also one of the biggest reasons for C-sections. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention states that when a woman is in labor for 20 hours or more, she requires a C-section. The duration of 20 hours is for new mothers, for moms who already have kids should not be in labor for more than 14 hours, ideally.

When the baby is big in size

Sometimes the baby is too big to pass through the vaginal canal. Due to this size problem, which may also make prolonged labor, the doctors advise a C-section.

When the baby’s position is not normal

Vaginal birth is only possible when the baby is in the right position. A normal position is where the head is near the vaginal canal. However, it is not the ideal situation every time.

Sometimes babies flip and change their position. So their head goes opposite to the vaginal canal and feet are towards the canal. This is called a breech or transverse birth.

In these cases, the safest delivery is a C-section and not a vaginal delivery. Especially if the woman is carrying twins or more, C-section becomes an absolute need.

When the baby is not getting sufficient oxygen

Sometimes the doctors prefer an emergency C-section if the baby is depriving of oxygen. It is necessary to save the baby, so C-section gets a medical reason in this case.

When the baby has a birth defect

If the baby is diagnosed with any birth defect i.e. excessive fluid in brain, the option of C-section will reduce his complications during delivery.

When it’s a repeat cesarean

Although women who prefer a cesarean once go for the same next time. But it is absolutely possible to go for vaginal delivery after a C-section. As per the American Pregnancy Association, this phenomenon is called vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).

When a pregnant mother has health problems

If the mother has any chronic health problem i.e. heart problems, blood pressure or gestational diabetes, C-section is a better choice, medically. For a woman with these medical conditions, vaginal delivery can be dangerous. Also if the mother to be has HIV or other such diseases, doctors never go for a vaginal delivery. In such cases, it is possible for the baby to catch these infections too through vaginal delivery. Here a C-section is safer than vaginal delivery.

Image is taken from “bellefit”

When it’s a cold prolapse

Cold prolapse is a medical condition where the umbilical cord slips through the cervix before the childbirth. It disturbs and reduces the oxygen supply for the baby. This may put the baby in a danger. Eventually, the mother requires an emergency cesarean delivery.

When the pelvis is too small to deliver

Cephalopelvic disproportion or CPD is a condition when the mother to be has a very small pelvis. It makes natural delivery impossible. And if the baby’s head or overall size is too big, the vaginal delivery cannot take place. In such cases, C-section is a medical requirement.

When there are placenta issues

Sometimes the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix, or it separates from the uterine lining. In any of these cases, emergency C-section is recommended.

When it’s a twin pregnancy

When the babies are more in number, normal delivery becomes dangerous. Having twins, triplets or more can prolong labor and may also increase the mother-to-be’s health risks. There may be chances of a breech position, size problem or oxygen supply issues. In this case, C-section is the safer option.

The final word

There are two ways to deliver a child; vaginally or by C-section. Most of the pregnancies are highly unpredictable leaving no way to assume a delivery method. Sometimes a C-section becomes absolutely necessary due to medical reasons. However, it is not a safe method to go for elective cesarean deliveries. In any case, childbirth is a beautiful experience and the expected parents should be ready for any unexpected situation. For better, start talking to your doctor and plan delivery in advance.



The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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