Cesarean Versus Natural Birth
A baby can be brought into this world either by means of a natural birth, i.e. vaginal delivery, or through a surgical birth, i.e. cesarean section. Earlier natural birth used to be the norm but now, many women are opting for cesarean section as a matter of choice. So is one method of delivery superior to another? According to experts both methods have their own pros and cons. While natural birth may be the right choice for one woman, C-section may be the best option for another woman. It depends upon the different circumstances during the time of delivery for different women. Let us look at the advantages and disadvantages of both the forms of deliveries in detail.
There are two types of cesarean sections- emergency and elective.
Emergency Cesarean Section is undertaken when
- The woman goes into prolonged labor and is completely exhausted. Her baby is also getting deprived of oxygen because of the prolonged contractions.
- There is sudden rupture of the placenta
Elective Cesarean Section: is undertaken when
- The size of the baby is too large compared to the woman’s pelvis
- If the woman is diabetic or has high blood pressure
- Abnormal position of the baby which cannot be corrected by manipulation
- There are two or multiple babies
- Earlier cesarean sections with a threat of rupture of old cesarean scars
- Placenta previa
In all these circumstances, giving birth through C- section helps in saving the life of the baby or the mother. There are times when women opt for C-section so that they can choose the time of delivery as per their convenience. This is especially true in case of working women.
However, there are several disadvantages of cesarean section. They are:
- C-section is a major surgery which may cause severe blood loss, increase the chance of infection, blood clot formation and formation of adhesions. As the mother is anesthetized before the surgery, she may feel too groggy to feed the baby soon after birth. So the baby is deprived of mother’s touch and the early breast milk which is rich in colostrum.
- Babies born through C-section have a lower level of immunity compared to babies born through natural birth. They are more likely to suffer from asthma. Recent studies have also shown that these babies are more likely to turn obese in their childhood and early adulthood, although the reason behind this association is not very clear.
Giving birth through the vaginal route is what the nature had intended. There are several advantages of natural birth. They are:
- The woman has a very small hospital stay.
- She may feed her baby almost immediately after giving birth
- Fluid present in the lungs of the baby is squeezed out as it passes through the birth canal. So, there are less chances of developing breathing problems at birth.
- As the baby passes through the birth canal, it receives an early dose of the good bacteria present in the birth canal. These bacteria boost the baby’s immunity and strengthen the gut.
However, even natural birth has its flip side. Some of the disadvantages of natural birth are:
- If the baby’s head is too big, it may cause lacerations on the vaginal wall while passing out.
- Stretching of the vaginal wall may hamper the tone of the muscles of the pelvic floor. This may lead to problem of incontinence.
- Prolapse of uterus is often encountered in women who have had vaginal deliveries.
- There may be lingering pain in the vaginal and anal region.