C-section vs. Natural Birth

Okay, so I should actually put “vaginal” birth in the title but I’m trying to keep the google pervs at bay here.

Over the past few years, elective c-sections have been on the rise. I’m sure you’ve heard the term, “too posh to push” although, I think the term should actually be, “elective c-section with a Hollywood side of tummy tuck so moms in the Midwest feel like crap because they still have a baby paunch two weeks after their babies were born”.

That said, there are many women that opt for a c-section for a number of reasons and being “too posh” isn’t usually one of them. Plenty of women have to go the c-section route for health reasons and for the safety of themselves and their baby.

On the flip side, there are women who really want to have a vaginal birth and are deeply disappointed if they have to have a caesarean.

Here are a couple of pros and cons I found for each “exit”:


C-Section Vs Natural



  • You don’t have to find out if labour is painful
  • Your hidey hole stays intact
  • You don’t have to worry about the sting of peeing after having the baby
  • Less chance of forceps being used or the baby getting stuck
  • You post partum bleeding (lochia) may be lighter because it was kind of vacuumed out of you
  • You won’t poop during delivery


  • Higher risk for infection
  • Recovery time is typically a lot longer
  • Higher risk of blood clots
  • You can only cut into your uterus so many times – if you want more than 2 kids you may be pushing your luck according to some doctors
  • You increase your risk of complications in future deliveries regardless of whether you have a c-section or vaginal birth next time
  • You have to get drugs, there’s no way around it unless you’re like this woman in Mexico who performed a c-section on herself. Good times.
  • It’s major surgery
  • You’ll probably have a small scar but unless you’re in the porn industry, it’s unlikely that many people will see it.



  • If left up to nature, it’s the exit of choice
  • Less risk of infection
  • Typically a faster recovery time
  • By passing through the birth canal, fluid is squeezed from the baby’s lungs so they are less likely to develop transient tachypnea of the neonate (TTN) which is a temporary lung condition.
  • Your baby is exposed to beneficial bacteria in the birth canal which supposedly makes them less likely to develop food allergies and asthma.
  • You don’t get kicked in your incision when you’re holding your baby in a carrier
  • When you go into labour it seems your body releases a bunch of hormones that drain fluid out of your baby’s organs and helps you recover faster
  • You can have as many kids as you want this way and give the Duggars a run for their money


  • Labour and delivery may hurt like a mother fucker
  • Less predictable – you may luck out and get a quick, painless birth or you might have a 72 hour nightmare.
  • Equipment for birth is real close to equipment for going to the bathroom. #[email protected]$.
  • Possible urinary incontinence that can last up to three months after giving birth. The jury is still out if vaginal birth can be blamed for leaky pipes down the road.
  • Possible tearing and/or episiotomy


No matter what route you take, you’re going to hear both horror and hallelujah stories on both sides – people that have had 147 hour labours with no drugs and fourth-degree lacerations love to corner you at a cocktail party and tell you all about it, and the woman who developed a severe infection from a surgical sponge left in her uterus after a c-section will be right behind her.

You will also have people tell you that they gave birth painlessly with no drugs and would never consider a c-section no matter what the risk, and there are other people who tell you that they would never have a vaginal birth because their husband may not be pleased with their lady tunnel afterward. Er, okay.

Hey, births are like finger prints and snowflakes – no two are alike.

After doing both, I would opt for a vaginal birth if I had to do it again. Even though the good china was completely messed up for a while, I found it to be the easier route. I was terrified with a capital-T about labour and had absolutely no desire to feel any pain and would have happily had an epidural in the parking lot. Thankfully, the labour pains I did experience were manageable and I got my drugs so, all in all, both experiences were pretty darn good.

And at the end of the day, healthy baby and healthy mom are what we’re shooting for. So until they can figure out a way to grow babies like sea monkeys in the bathtub, we’ll just have to settle for the two exits we’ve got and make the best of it.

Did I miss any? I’ll add them to list. What are you hoping for?

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  • C-sections caused more issues with my ‘hidey hole’ as you put it. With a little research you’ll see that women who had C sections were more likely to suffer from painful intercourse oftentimes years after the surgery.

    This is because the pelvic floor tightens in response to the abdomen being cut. This initially causes pain during intercourse, bowel issues, and down the road, incontinence. A higher chance of incontinence then if you’d had a vaginal birth.

    This was explained to me by a pelvic floor physiotherapist and is not properly documented online, so I thought you should include in your list.

    Also a higher chance of a hysterectomy later in life. Not to be taken lightly.

  • I had an elective C section because of hip dysplasia and pelvic floor issues/concerns. My OB was supportive of going either way (vaginal vs C section), and I had no issues. I’m old (39 at delivery 6 months ago), but I was up walking around/getting in and out of bed on my own the day after birth and went home 48 hours after delivery. Minimal pain medication needs, no issues with pooping/peeing; scar healed up beautifully, no rectus muscle separation, etc, etc. It is quite possible to have a really easy C section delivery. I realize it does not always go this way, but it is quite possible. I do have a medical background (I’m a trauma RN) and am aware of the risks of this major surgery and decided it was the right way for me to go. This should always be an informed decision between the pregnant person and their medical provider.

  • In the “pro” list for c-section (or i suppose the “con” list for vaginal) you didn’t mention any of the valid medical reasons you might need it. Such as:
    C-section pro ” getting a baby out of you when hours of pushing and giant forceps don’t work, keeping you both alive and healthy”
    Vaginal con “dying because they baby can’t get out of you (or maybe they could break your pelvic bone to get baby out?”
    Vaginal con: “particularly for VBAC, uterus exploding and you all die.”

  • Yeah, this is really unhelpful. I so badly wanted a natural birth, took classes and hired an amazing doula to avoid an epidural (long story but I really really didn’t want one), and then kind of at the last minute, we had to have a medically necessary c section. I cried all the way to the hospital.

    Commentary like this isn’t going to change someone’s mind who really wants a c section (of which I know no people who want to choose an extra hole being installed in their body). What you are doing is making it harder for people like me to come to terms with the necessity of our situation. So please be more sensitive to the fact that every pregnancy is not healthy or happy all the time. As an L&D nurse, you should know that.

  • I never would have thought in a million years that I would have a c section, but I did, and the world didn’t end…it was awesome. Recovery wasn’t bad at all.

  • There is a risk of infection for a natural birth that I noticed didn’t make the list. My mom almost died during child birth when I got stuck in the birth canal. Your child getting stuck in the birth canal can lead to death of the mother and/or child or severe disabilities if oxygen is cut off to the baby for an extended period of time. I had a c section with my baby 16 weeks ago and recovery was quick without complication. I was up and down the stairs the day I went home. Mothers with elective c sections can also experience the pain of childbirth, my son decided to come the night before my planned c section, 7 hours of unmedicated labor was a B until my time for surgery.

  • I’m not a new mom. My youngest is 22, and my newest grandchild is 3 months old. I’d like to point out something that never makes the pro-con lists on the subject of c-section: scar tissue. It can become a real problem down the line, and it’s not at all rare. Those ladies taking Detrol LA so they don’t spend their twilight years in the bathroom? A lot of them had c-sections, and are now dealing with something called adhesion, which is when the scar tissue goes a little bit nuts and binds all your insides together. Twenty-two years after my daughter’s birth via emergency c-section (placenta previa, it’s a bitch), my bladder is the size of a walnut, or at least that’s what it feels like. Adhesion causes all kinds of weird pains and bladder problems, and fixing it surgically is kind of a no-go, since the original problem began with surgery. So. Choose carefully, ladies.

  • I’m so glad your lists were concise and realistic- none of the "glorifying the c-section" that I’ve seen elsewhere. C-sections are major surgery, I think a lot of women gloss over that part in their minds.
    Give me my natural, unmedicated vaginal birth any day. I think spraining my ankle hurt worse, and my lady parts and urinary tract are just fine thankyousomuch. 🙂

  • Not true that it doesn’t hurt to urinate after a c-section. It hurt for quite a while to do any bodily functions. You use those muscles that they cut into to do these things.

  • Honestly I had been wishing I’d gotten a C-section, since my baby had a ginormous head and they had to use the forceps. But I’m glad I read this so I could feel better about the bacteria on his long walk down the hallway out.

    However, it’s been ten months and if I even look at a toilet I pee, so that’s kind of a bummer.

  • I ended up having a c-section. It wasn’t my first choice (yes, it’s major abdominal surgery) but I was really pleased with the recovery. I didn’t need anything stronger than motrin and felt great by week 2.

  • Love this! I’ve done both and like you said there are ups and downs to both. However I would take the vaginal over csec any day. And my vaginal birth was 31hrs of labor and 2nd degree tearing. I was amazed how much better I felt after my VBAC compared to the csec. In the end it didn’t matter because I’ve got 2 healthy kids.

  • I had a required cesarean after going into labor early with a sideways baby. Labor progressed FAST and I’d probably have been cutting it close if she was facing the proper direction. I totally vacated my bowels on the table after the epidural was administered and profusely apologized to the nurses. I also have internal bruising still healing 4 months out. That said I’ve recovered at an accelerated rate which I think is mostly due to my age. I think the biggest things are keeping yourself healthy leading up to birth and having quality medical professionals backing you, regardless of which route you go.

  • I would add that after a c section you should expect to wait a little longer for your milk to come in ( generally about 24 hrs more than a vaginal birth). For my unplanned c section this was even longer because of an infection. The effects on breastfeeding are never mentioned, yet all of the doctors and nurses seemed to take it as a given that my milk hadn’t come in three days after birth.

  • Additional cons for c-section & corrections:
    – it still burns when you pee for days afterwards because of the catheter. basically you have to re-learn to pee = awful.
    – you first post-surgery poop is a scary, ominous thing. thanks to pain meds you’re all sorts of backed up. with a lot of stool softener and some serious concentration, it will likely hurt for a few weeks.
    – major surgery, just for clarification, means you can’t go from laying down to sitting/standing without an immense effort for weeks following birth.. which particularly sucks when you have a tiny little human who needs you to get up every hour or two
    – not sure about that claim on bleeding. i bled for a month!

    c-sections suck. Unfortunately, similar to the previous commenter, I got to experience what i like to call the "birthing sampler plan" where I started natural after my water broke (birthing tub and all!), passed out in terrible back labor/complicated birth pains, went to fully dilated on an epidural, then had an emergency c-section. Hey, at least next time I can make an incredibly informed decision, right?! 😉

    • This was me too! C sections after labor, now that sucks. We are in a class of our own. Not excited about a second C section but at least I only have one recovery this time. Not happy when people ask, have you considered a VBAC?

  • Having an epidural was what made my birth experience abso-fucking-lutely fabulous. I’d had sciatica for weeks and couldn’t walk without a cane by the time I had contractions. Then I went into a fresh hell called back labor and truly thought this pain was unique to me and soon I would die. It was insane. But then I had the epidural, and felt no pain, and started checking Facebook and life tweeting labor because life was AWESOME! I was in labor for a few hours, hoping for a vaginal birth, and then had to move for a c-section because the baby pooped! Better him than me! My son is healthy and happy, and despite my being overweight and thus my incision was prone to infection, I had zero problems and felt great pretty soonafter. Whatever you do, wishing all of you preggos safe and comfortable and wonderful birth experiences!

  • I steadfastly planned for a water birth and then did give birth "naturally", i.e. vaginally with no pain killers after a Cervadil induction for being 41+3 weeks in midwife care. The baby came too quickly for a water birth but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t screaming for drugs at the end and thinking to myself "Why cant they just CUT THIS BABY OUT OF ME FOR THE LOVE OF GOD". You forget the pain eventually and if I can convince the husband to have another I would attempt to do it the same way.

    The most important thing is that you are able to make peace with however it turns out and know it probably won’t be 100% how you planned it.

  • The doctors tried with cervadil and pitocin for 36 hours to induce me but it just wasn’t happening. After breaking my water my contractions stopped the baby’s heart. I had my fears about vaginal delivery like tearing and pooping and the aftermath, I really didn’t want a csection. After having an emergency csection I can say it wasn’t that bad. The nerve pain for about a week after was pretty horrid but other than that this has been a breeze. I am 3 week out and already driving and cleaning and doing everything but the dirty and riding my horses and those aren’t far off!

  • Uggg I’m rather stubborn, L&D is a hard topic for me. In terms of my labor, people would call it a great one. I had no pain meds besides a pill of who the hell knows when your in so much friggin pain. I pushed for an hour and a half, didn’t need any stitches (no tearing or such), only had a 5 lb 7 oz baby. Very uneventful and things went smooth.. I never even felt a burn while he came out. Peeing wasn’t bad afterwords either.. just when I had to go #2. UGGG.

    As "good" as it was it did hurt like a motherfucker! And it scares me from ever having kids again 🙁 I’m far more scared of having an epidural then I am doing it naturally again, which is saying a lot. Oh well.. I mean, I have a perfect baby boy. I know SO wants another kiddo.. maybe one day 🙂

  • I have had two spinal headaches, which can be a nasty side effect of an epidural that is seldom mentioned. It’s pretty miserable and damn near impossible to take care of a newborn with those intense migraine-like pain that intensifies when you’re upright. I am pregnant with No. 3 and am hoping all is well with us both, and I’m able to have a vaginal delivery. That’s the only way to guarantee a choice about the epidural!

  • I went into the hospital dead set on no interventions. I was admitted about 14 hours after my water broke and I was 1 cm dilated with contractions about every 2 minutes. 12 hours later I was still at 1 cm, and I was manually dilated to 4 cm. 12 hours later I was still at 4 cm. They gave me a couple more hours to show any sign of progress (none) then performed a c-section. I know the doctors did everything they could to encourage a vaginal birth before resorting to surgery. I don’t regret the c-section and completely believe my "pelvis was too small" for the baby.

    It’s very important to be flexible, not all births follow the steps in the books.

  • I was convinced I wanted a mostly un-natural labour…. Drugs, epidural and c section if possible. As it turned out my labour was so quick that I was lucky to have 3 puffs of gas and air. Went from 2 – 8cm dialated in an hour then 45 minutes later baby popped out! In hindsight I am glad it happened this way. Yes it hurt like a b** but I was able to go home the same day.

  • I wanted a natural, no-drug birth, but my boy was frank breech from at least 20 weeks through birth, despite my and my doctors efforts to turn him. I think I was lucky that my water broke and I went into labor 38 hours before my c-section was scheduled, so I know he was fully cooked when they took him out of the oven. The c-section was great, I never felt groggy, despite being up all night, and my recovery was easy. I think getting up and walking as soon as the nurses told me to was the best thing I could have done. 4.5 months later, my scar is perfect and fading. I have no regrets.

  • I had a c-section after a failed induction (reason was failure to descend). I recovered a lot quicker than friends that had natural births. I did bled until I stopped breast feeding at 7 weeks, so the whole stop bleeding earlier Pro was definitely not true in my case.

  • I am trying to get pregnant at the moment and will have to have a C section for medical reasons. I have researched C sections so i am prepared and have been so disappointed with womens comments slamming C sections. I am not prepared to tell every stranger, family member or friend why i have chosen a C section and i am not looking forward to the comments and looks that will come from a forced desicion. Will i be thought too posh to push because i'm not willing to explain?

  • hate to say it but not pooping during a c-section is definitely wrong!!! once you get that spinal tap theres no control of anything down there and it happened to me with my second. i was under the impression that it wouldn't happen since it wasn't a vaginal birth, don't know if it happened with my first or not i was exhausted and passed out as soon as i got to see her.

  • I'm 31 and due in September with my first, and if all goes according to plan, I'll be having a natural birth at the local birthing center with my midwife. To me, natural is the way to go…but then again, my family has a history of relatively easy labors, and I'm kind of a hippie. My twin goddaughters were born via C-section, though, and my step-daughter was born vaginally but with a plethora of drugs, and I'm not about to judge those mommas.
    If all goes well, and there aren't any complications, OF COURSE the best way is a natural vaginal birth, just like breast milk is the \"best\" food for a baby. HOWEVER, before the cesarean section and medically assisted birth, having a baby WAS the number one cause of women's deaths, and many infants had to be fed by wetnurses whose own children were gone. It puts things into perspective. At least momma and baby are alive and thriving. THAT is what truly matters.
    If September comes around and something happens where I'm sent to the hospital to deliver my little one by c-section, I'm going to be highly grateful that the procedure exists to save our lives. If I can't breast feed, I'm going to be super grateful that there are nutritious formulas out there to feed my child. And for ALL of you mommas, no matter how you have previously delivered or how you will deliver in the future, good on ya! As I am finding out every single day, being a mother is pretty much the coolest thing EVER, and no one should be judged for how it comes about. 🙂

  • I had to chuckle at the "Alien style" comment, and the judginess observation. Both true.
    My basic concern with any birth involving medical preofessionals (as opposed to health professionals – just bear with me here) is that so much of what they do IN GOOD FAITH is frightening to a mother, and fear causes tension which works directly against labour. It's a primal fear that knowing or trusting your OB beforehand will not soothe. Homebirth is often a reaction against the threat of this fear rather than an innate desire to birth at home, and that's a shame; I want competent expertise when I'm doing the important work of birthing, but I don't want an antiseptic environment in which to do it – what are my options? Reactionary decisions are often not good ones, but perhaps if more women make this particular one the system which they are avoiding will take a look at what's causing the exodus and consider changing itself.
    A note on your comment about healthy babies and moms – the interventions that the women here are speaking of have significant negative impacts on their *mental* health, which have sequelae in the physical health of both themselves and their babies. Unfortunately that's not a stat that hospitals collect (how could they? sympotms manifest days and weeks after discharge) so it's never considered in their care model.

  • "I am always amazed to hear that doctors let people "choose" to have a c-section. It seems like that is the way you want to go only if health/nature dictates. I would think doctors would put themselves in a position of being extremely liable if something goes amiss at any point (even long after) an elective surgery."

    More likely, they are worried about getting sued if they turn down a request for a c-section, and then something bad happens. Much the same as going to a clinic for a sprained ankle and demanding extensive testing to make sure it is just a sprained ankle. The doc isn't going to turn you down when you demand unnecessary stuff, that would be a liability. Blame the ambulance-chasing lawyers, John Edwards and his kin.

    "I think its sad that there are no doctors bold enough to deliver breech babies."

    I think it's sad that you are making sweeping generalizations that are in no way true. OBs do deliver breech babies vaginally if that is what the mother wants, and only section her if the baby is in distress (or absolutely refuses to be turned in a safe way). Guess what? They deliver twins vaginally too. It is actually somewhat common to deliver one twin vaginally, but then have to deliver the other one via c-section, because they start to have problems.

    Seriously, enough with the hate. Some women will have their kiddos vaginally, some women will pop them out Alien-style. THE ONLY IMPORTANT THING IS THAT MAMA AND BABY ARE BOTH OKAY. Goodness. At least pregnant women are initiated early in the "judginess" that is modern day parenting, so they have plenty of time to armor themselves against it.

  • If you are looking for an in-depth look at natural/vaginal/home births, check out the documentary "The Business of Being Born." Like Lauren pointed out above, it explores how the use of drugs and the habit of hospitals increases the incidence of c-section. The film is unapologetic about its pro-au-natural stance, but does also have a story of a mother who wanted a home birth and ended up needing an emergency c-section. The main thing I took away from watching it is that c-sections shouldn't be optional – they should be last-ditch. The drugs used are also a bit scary, in how they mess with a woman's perception of her contractions and interfere with how the body and brain create and process hormones. It could even affect the way mothers bond with their babies, or make breast-feeding more difficult.
    There's a lot of fear around giving birth and I am grateful I still have five more months to create my birth plan… still, the more information I find, the more I am drawn towards as little intervention (i.e. non-hospital) as possible.

  • I have never criticized someone for having a "natural" vaginal delivery. I tried my best to deliver my little boy vaginally but to no avail. When my mother, who has worked in OB labor&delivery for over 30 years said there was a chance I would lose my baby because he was in such distress, or the other possibility I was going to have a stroke because my BP was 190/100 and wouldn't come down for anything, along with broken blood vessels in my eyes, and my face I decided it was time to do something else and they did a stat c-section. No it wasn't what I wanted, and I have always had a sense of loss over not being able to deliver vaginally but just think of the loss I would still be suffering if my son had not made it. And to the midwife student- some babies are too big for the birth canal. When a women only weighs 100lbs, is petite with narrow hips I would say a baby that has an estimated birth weight of 12.5lbs is a baby too big too deliver! Her husband weighed 13lbs when he was born and his mother almost died having him. Lots of women did in fact die from breech and large babies back in the early years. I just hope you women out there use common sense when it comes to your delivery and realize that there is a time and a place for a c-section-the life it saves may be your own!

  • @ midwifery student, here in Australia many women have twins vaginally, my OB was happy to delivery my boys vaginally, even when twin 2 turned breech.

  • I think its sad that there are no doctors bold enough to deliver breech babies. What did people do before c-sections became the method for delivering breech babies? Certainly there were just as many cases as there are now! I'm sure there is different risk with a c-section, but we all know that its possible to deliver breech babies vaginally and that the mortality rate is higher with c-sections than vaginal deliveries. I wonder if there are any remaining doctors who even have the skill…? Sad practice to be lost. Same thing with twins–does anyone even attempt vaginal delivery with multiples anymore? If I had a breech baby at the end of my pregnancy (or twins) I'd be searching high and low for a doctor/midwife combination that would be willing to help with my delivery w/out a c-section. I'd move to another country if I could find these people there! My babies were all enormous (all btwn 8 1/2 and 10 lbs) and all came out fine naturally thanks to lots of education and preparation and coming to a realization that there was no need for me to fear labor, pain, or the state of my vagina post-partum! I honestly don't understand the concept of someone's birth canal or pelvis being "too small" for their babies. I question a woman's resolve and ability to stay calm and have patience with her body, not her body's capability. Sorry if that's offensive to anyone, but ladies, this is what our bodies were designed to do and yeah it hurts like a bitch but there is too much fear that we take into it! Its the fear, misinformation about birth and our bodies, and current accepted practices that paralyze us and usher us into the Operating Room. I'd LOVE to know how many of these "necessary" c-sections actually ARE!!! How did these well educated men convince us to listen to them instead of our bodies and nature? I'm all for the right to choose what to do with your body….but what crazy decisions we are making.

    p.s. I love "the Business of Being Born" and "Pregnant in America"….watch them if you haven't! If nothing else they show another side to the story most doctors would tell you about present day birthing practices.

    *sorry for the rant and lengthy comment.*

  • I think the bottom line here is that every intervention/non-intervention in labor and birth has risks and benefits, as well as a necessary place in obstetrical care. The responsible thing to do is to get educated about them. I'm a new mom, and an obstetrical nurse. A lot of women walk in the door demanding c-sections, inductions, epidurals etc, but know NOTHING about about them. I've lost track of how many epidural requests I've gotten from women that are surprised to learn after the fact that it involves needles, IVs, narcotics and their back. I've also had a lot of women who walk in with rigid natural birth plans that leave no room for the unexpected. Working in the delivery room definitely influenced the choices I made for my own birth, and I can support anyone who's making an informed choice. The issue I see in my job is that the 'informed' part is missing a lot of the time.

    And thanks for adding a few new terms for lady bits to my repertoire 🙂

  • I had a scheduled C-section due to baby being breech, and although I'm not at all disappointed that I missed out on a natural delivery (they don't give out prizes for how you deliver babies, remember?), one of the cons you should mention is being stuck in the hospital for much longer and heaven help you if you don't have a private room. After three days of living in a little curtained-off space with a revolving door of roommates (and their clandestine, off-hours visitors), my husband and I were climbing the walls.

  • Funny you should post this now. I was just transferred at 36 weeks from my crunchy granola midwife to a high risk OB, and found out that I am having a C-section under general anesthetic on Monday. Depressingly it will be at at teaching hospital, and while I will have excellent doctors, there will also be student audience members as I am apparently a one in ten years case.
    All that to say, that while I'm not looking forward to Monday, I do realize it is the "safest" way for baby to arrive in this situation. And I am not looking forward to explaining to some of my hippie friends and family why the baby didnt come naturally.

  • Love tunnel? Good china?! Loving the vagina euphemisms!

    My baby had a ride through the love tunnel and while I had a rocky labour and recovery, I'd do it again.

  • That Mexican woman makes me put everything in perspective… maybe I should stop being a wimp about my upcoming C-section!! (maybe a few gulps of rubbing alcohol would help too, lol).

    Ladies, relax, both vaginal deliveries and c-sections have pros and cons but I have yet to meet a c-section advocate that discriminates and says awful things about women that have vaginal deliveries the same way "natural deliveries advocates" so passionately hate and hurt all of those who don't think like them. I've heard things from "you're just lazy" to "you will NEVER experience the same motherly love I did because you have a C-section"… just frigging relax, will ya? In the end we all love our babies and we are all mothers, so, enough.

    • Thank you! I developed liver failure in my 38th week, and my baby was full breech and settled in deep. I was partially effaced and starting to dilate too. My OB advised me that we could try to turn her and induce labor, but she believed that there was a high risk of damaging the placenta, which would mean an emergency c-section. She was very concerned that I would be upset "because [I] have such a lovely birth plan." I reassured her that what mattered most to me was a healthy baby safely delivered, and if a scheduled c-section in 24 hours was the safer option than a 70-80% chance of an emergency c-section, I was going to go with her advice. She was so relieved to hear that. The procedure was very calm. Everyone in the OR was very upbeat and kind. I had a great team taking care of me. And sure enough, my daughter was born bottom first and folded up in a V-sit.

      I’ve had MANY people reassure me that a c-section doesn’t mean failure. Well, of course it doesn’t! I know they mean well, but it’s almost like they were expecting me to be upset about needing a c-section. Maybe it’s because I’m adopted myself or because I was a c-section baby as well, but birth doesn’t equal motherhood to me, let alone a vaginal birth. It’s my name listed as the mother on the birth certificate, went home with me, and I love her with all my heart – that’s what makes me her mother.

  • I like the idea of a vaginal birth much better than a C-section, just because that is the way nature intended us to get those rascals out! In some cases intervention is necessary to help the baby or mama, so in those cases, slice that belly open. I think that the c-section rates are a bit alarming. I wonder if it is turning into a convenience thing for the docs? I don't know. I would always suggest trying the old fashioned way first.

  • I was totally scared and disappointed when my baby turned breech and I was schduled for a c-section late in the pregnancy. Then, she suddenly turned back on her own 2 days before the section, so I was psyched for a "natural" delivery. I changed my tune after 15 hours of PAINFUL contractions with no epidural (I was told it didn't seem likely that I could sit still long enough for them to get the needle in!) and all other pain relief methods failing to do anything for me. By the time I was pushing her out and feeling EVERYTHING, I was screaming and begging for a c-section! I only managed to get her out when the midwives said that if she didn't come out with the next push they would have to cut me because she was getting distressed. I screamed "NO! I'm getting her out now!" and out she came on the next push. It's now 5 days later, my little girl is healthy and beautiful, but she will definitely be grounded when she is old enough to understand what it means. I have been afraid to look at my lady parts after my 2nd degree tear, but I took a mirror and looked today to see how the stitches were doing and I almost passed out. Big mistake. I would have preferred the c-section scar and not feel like I am constatly sitting on a bed of nails and peeing battery acid. My belly muscles hurt anyway, so recovery is nnot a deciding factor. My baby is just lucky she is so cute.

  • @ Karen- I believe I said …"There are times when a c-section is NECESSARY especially if Mom's or Babe's life is at risk…." No one is doubting this fact. AND no one should be made to feel bad if they had to have a c-section… I am just hoping to spread some information to discredit those women who think they are "too posh to push"… and demand to have a c-section for no reason. ( and believe me there are tons… I've even had families demand one because "this is taking too long…") >>sigh<<<

  • C-sections are major surgery (I once heard them called "open uterine surgery", which puts it in perspective) and very occasionally medically necessary for the health of women and their babies. That's (mostly) not in dispute. So when it comes to a tangled out of reach cord or preeclampsia or somesuch, there is no place for discussions of which method is better, because only one is going to save a life.

    Here's what I will dispute though: drugs and episiotomies. Both lead to worse outcomes. I know that the epidural is sacred and essential in the US, but – listen up – it significantly raises your chances of one of those "ineffective labours" leading to unplanned cesarean. It's not that you got the drugs to let you push longer before it ultimately failed, the problem is very likely that BECAUSE of the the drugs you push longer and scare yourself and your doctor and end up on an operating table instead of a birthing bed. Plus there's that risk of parapelegia, lower APGAR scores and reduced or delayed lactation.

    Epesiotomies were long ago shown to CAUSE and increase tearing, not prevent it. Can you rip a sheet just by pulling on the edge? Not easily, but if you clip the selvedge it'll split down the middle with no effort at all. Now apply that to your perineum. Something else to apply there: warm oil massage, before, during and after.

    I work in maternal and child health, I study birth outcomes and read the literature, and I took all that into the L&D with me. My main advice on birthing is to get the hell out of the way and let your baby and your body do what only they know how to do. It's almost impossible but you have to not try to stage-manage this – and *nor should anyone else*. I won't go into my birthing experience, but suffice it to say that I declined a c-section more than once, and more than once during labour regretted it, but never afterwards. Neither of us were in danger but we were certainly "at risk" as the hospital defines it. Mostly the risk was of me being in excruciating pain, and I just didn't think that was worth the risk of the 'solution'.

    Get to know what risks they're talking about, and decide for yourself if you agree with the course of action they're suggesting. You are a client and, unless you are deemed to be risking a life, you get to choose how you interact with your care providers. Even when you're wearing a backless gown and mewling on all fours.

  • Weirdly I had no problem with either, my son is 4 months old now and after 20 hours of labor I had to have a c-section because of fetal stress. I wasn't upset by the c-section. Granted my husbands family lived in my recovery room for a week (hell. It was hell) because the baby was in the nicu. When I got home though I had a lot of trouble dealing with the fact that I had a c-section. Especially when one of my friends had a homebirth right after I got home and was posting all over face book how wonderful and easy and how homebirth was the best thing you could do for your baby blah blah blah…
    All things considered knowing what I know now I'd go through my pregnancy/labor a little differently and if I had made myself more informed and concerned myself more with the details I wouldn't mind having another C-section although I'm going to try for the vbac. The only problem I had post c-section was long recovery, I still get nerve pain. Omg my c-section scar is crooked and it totally makes my weird new front fat all bulgy and weird (its totally something that deserves mention because I had NO effing clue that would happen). I was a farm worker and pretty athletic so I was expecting to spring back. That was dumb. Some people do and some people don't.

    Anywho, I'm so freakishly happy with my baby, but I wish people (moms only, wouldn't it be weird if guys did this?) wouldn't ask me about labor and when they find out about my c-section go on and on about how thats the selfish action or how I could have avoided a c-section. My kid would be dead if I didn't have it. Thats the long and the short of it.

  • The first most important rule of vaginal labor is: TAKE DRUGS. The second most important rule of labor is: TAKE DRUGS. Not only should you take the drugs, but you should take them the second they are offered to you. God put someone on this planet smart enough to invent the epidural. Say a quick thank you to the big man above for being so generous and order yourself one up. There is no reason to go through any pain. I didn’t and the most painful part of my entire birthing experience was getting the IV. Thank you, Jesus.


    • Sweetie, no everyone needs drugs. I had mine without, and I think instead of rushing for scary needles, we should be encouraging our fellow women to trust our bodies and tough through it. Just because you couldn’t do it, doesn’t mean others can’t. To each their own, but I think it’s disappointing when women advocate drugs so easily.

  • This post rocks. I'm a first time mom and TOTALLY COMPLETELY freaked out by any and all of "get this dang baby out of me" options. I love the sea monkey approach you mentioned. I sencond what a PP wrote – a post on "to cut or not to cut" the good china would be swell!

  • @ Cynawin: the MAJOR pro to my C-section is that my baby and I are both alive and healthy. I pushed for 2 1/2 hours and then still faced an unplanned C-section. Sure there are plenty of cons, but don't say there are NO pros. There are, when C-section is medically necessary.

  • Despite this terrific list of pros and cons, there is NO way that a c-section delivery is better or the preferred way. A c-section is MAJOR ABDOMINAL SURGERY!!!!!! There are so many risks associated with this it is not even funny. It is a disturbing fact that the number of c-sections keeps rising. There are times when a c-section is necessary, like when the Mom's or Babe's life is at risk… but it is really sad that so many people think a c-section is the "easy" way. On your list of "pros for a c-section": 1)Labor is painful, it is a fact, but having an epidural makes it almost pain free, 2) About the "hidey hole"… NO woman should be worried about not pleasing her partner after having a baby, HE made her pregnant!!! Plus it is extremely easy to recover and gain back the pre-birth hidey hole, it's called doing Kegel exercises, there's muscles down there that react to exercise…3) The sting of peeing or having a BM actually doesn't last long, it's a small price to pay after experiencing the miracle of birth. 4) Forceps are rarely used anymore, there are strict policies and regulations in place, and they only have a bad reputation because of their misuse long ago. (and they are still healthier in the long run than a c-section) 5)lighter lochia— not always true, and women should be realistic about the fact that you bleed for a bit after having a baby… they just had 10 months without having it. 6) Pooping on the table… well the nurses and doctors are used to this happening, and will just clean up and change the underpad… it actually means she is doing a great job pushing!! And it really only happens in about 3 out of 10 births because the hormones that help you go in to labor also usually go into affect a day or two before and help eliminate any BM that's there to make room for baby's ginormous head to fit through!! NO woman need be embarrassed about pooping. So all-in-all there are no pros to c-sections! Somebody really smart designed everything so that a vaginal birth is healthier for Mom and babe. Also- if a MD encourages a repeat c-section for the next baby's delivery it is only for their convenience and fear of unfounded law suits. Of all the women that try VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) over 65% have success. Whew! Okay I am done, sorry if this was long… can you tell I feel strongly about this subject?? I am a L&D nurse and prenatal class instructor.

    • Shhh. I’m sure everyone can appreciate that you feel strongly about this, but you can’t really decide for someone else if the price is right for "experiencing the miracle of birth." Don’t preach, it’s not helpful.

  • I've done all three… vaginal with drugs and an epidural, scheduled c-section (that one was foot first and oddly, adores maps these days) and then a natural vbac. I didn't plan on going all natural, it just so happens that at 39 weeks 6 days and over 40 hours of early labor (3-4 cm) all of the sudden that kid decided he wanted out in a hurry. 5cm – birth in 34 minutes.

    If I were going to do any again (which I most certainly am not) I'd go the all natural route. Maybe because the worst of my labor lasted less than two hours, but after I felt pretty good. Even being nearly 14 years older than my first vaginal delivery, the lacerations AND episiotomy (hey, when a homeboy gotta bounce. he gotta bounce!) I got right out of bed and went pee. Let me tell you, I would hold myself until I was going to burst after my c-section because getting in and out of bed was so darn painful! I had energy and I wasn't numb and/or groggy from pain killers. It was nice.

  • I have all but "almost" experienced vaginal birth… 55 hours labor no drugs, 8 cm intentional water breakage, crazy labor pains (literally screaming on all 4's on the labor bed), got to 9.5 cm, then epidural to "relax" (giant needle while having crazy labor pains = not fun), then cervix thickening out while trying to push, then c-section. 2nd time around c-section because baby was looking "too big" and didn't want to risk it and it was actually wonderful not having to experience labor again. Both resulted with healthy beautiful baby girls! Recovery not fun and my permanent muffin top is super cool, but my lady tunnel looks fab!

  • "So until they can figure out a way to grow babies like sea monkeys in the bathtub, we'll just have to settle for the two exits we've got and make the best of it."

    I wish this were an option! I would have grown those little monkeys and I'd be up to my elbows in cloth diapers by now if this were the case. Hopefully, this next transfer will lead me to either experience the vag birth or the c-section. Either way, I will consider myself blessed!

  • Actually there is no limit on C-sections. It does however build scar tissue which has to be cut out every time you do have a c-section and it is ill advised to have a v-back after several c-sections because it puts you at risk for uterine rupture. Though I am just now having my first child (t-minus 8 weeks) and I have no experience in child birth personally I am an registered nurse and my husband is a physician. So only being able to have a certain number of is a myth.

  • I am always amazed to hear that doctors let people "choose" to have a c-section. It seems like that is the way you want to go only if health/nature dictates. I would think doctors would put themselves in a position of being extremely liable if something goes amiss at any point (even long after) an elective surgery. Then again, look what doctors did to Michael Jackson's face…

    That said, I had one of each. Both labors and births went very smoothly and were as "pleasant" as getting a baby out of you can be. I will say though, I actually was more comfortable after the c-section and felt better quicker. Go figure.

  • This was f'in hirlarious!!!! I love the bit a about the porn star, and your "good china". I too have had both, but not sure how what I will choose the thrid time round. Maybe laser birth if scientific advances will get there before I do. Loved It!

  • No post on different childbirth methods but I'll put it on my to-do list because I think it would be great topic to cover.

    I'm find that women who are really set on a certain way or method are often thrown if there's a bump in the road and are disappointed with the experience. So I think you're really smart to research all your options and keep an open mind about it.

    As for episiotomies, there really are pros and cons to them which would be a post in itself too.

    Man, you've given me a lot of homework to do ; )

  • I'm really hoping to avoid a c-section, unless for some reason the vaginal route would be harmful to me or the baby. I'm also thinking I'd like to avoid an episiotomy — apparently there are pros and cons to this procedure in and of itself. Any thoughts on the value/harm of an episiotomy? I even know nurses on both sides of the issue.

    The more I think about it, really, the more I want to go all-natural. I'm still undecided — I might end up opting for that epidural after all, but that's as far as I would be willing to take it on the 'artificial' side. I'm researching water birth, the Bradley method, Lamaze, and other natural childbirth techniques as options. (Have you done a post on different childbirth methodologies like these?) If nothing else, I might be able to use some of the positions and coping methods I learn from these methods in the delivery room, epidural or not.

    • I have a four month baby delivered C-Section. I was TERRIFIED of having a c-section. My entire pregnancy this was the fear that plagued me. Seriously, not the weight gain, stretchy clothes, baby coming out of my vag, nothing scared me as much as having a C-Section. I had read TONS of books, watched videos, hired a doula, and my doctor was on board. I went to 42 weeks. I labored all day and at the end of it all my baby wouldn’t get past -2 station. I went for a C-section and her cord was wrapped around her neck twice. If she had gone any lower her oxygen supply would have been cut off. The recovery was rough, but it was manageable and I didn’t have anyone coming home to help me. And I started homeschooling my son a day after coming home. I’m not saying I’m superwoman, or that C-sections are easy, I’m just saying that it isn’t the worst thing in the world like I thought. I hope you don’t have to have a c-section, but at the end of the day, you can handle it. Press on Sister and enjoy that little one.

    • My little came face up with her head tilted to the side (and the cord wrapped around her neck as a fun little bonus). I had to have an episiotomy because I had to get her OUT. It was a rough delivery- about 3.5 hours of pushing- and 4 months later there is still some healing to do from my level 4 tearing. But I would do it all over again if I had to. She’s healthy and wonderful. I had an epidural (wasn’t planning on it, but the clear head I received allowed me to focus and concentrate on my birth). Good luck to you, mama. Do what you’ve got to do, educate yourself and make the best decisions for you. 🙂

  • Orrrrr, you could go my route… go into labor naturally, get the epidural only to have it turned down to half so you "know which muscles to push with" and 2.5 hours of pushing later STILL have a C-section. All that being said, I would do it again in a heartbeat for a baby as wonderful as mine. She is healthy, happy, and (most importantly) alive 11 months later.

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