At one point of your regular checkups, your obstetrician would offer you the choice of a natural delivery or an elective caesarean, more commonly known as a C-Section.
Deciding between a natural or caesarean delivery is a topic that should be thoroughly discussed with your doctor. This way, you will know the advantages and disadvantages of either option. For some Mothers, personal circumstances and medical history will drive them to a specific delivery method.
Here’s what we can share with you before you meet up with your doctor for the discussion!
A natural delivery is when a baby is delivered through the vagina.
In labour during vaginal birth, there are 3 stages of labour where all of which are determined by the dilation (also known as widening) of the cervix.
Frequent contractions felt by a pregnant woman signal the start of labour. The first stage of labour takes place when the cervix is dilated to 10cm and this is when you will be required to start pushing.
The second stage happens when the baby starts crowning, in which the baby’s head is now visible at the vagina opening. With one final push, the baby will be delivered.
In the third and final stage, the placenta is expelled.
In some situations, doctors may advise labour induction for the mother’s and/or the baby’s safety. If the water bag is still not broken when already in labour, the doctor may perform an amniotomy to rupture the amniotic membrane.
An intravenous synthetic hormone, Oxytocin, may also be administered to hasten labour that is not progressing. For some natural deliveries, the doctor may need to make a surgical incision called an episiotomy as the baby’s head passes through the opening of the vagina - for the mother and/or baby’s safety. If the mother or baby is showing signs of distress during delivery, the doctor may use forceps or vacuum extraction to assist in the safe delivery.
Mothers are given the choice to opt for an epidural to help manage the pain though it may affect the ability to push the baby out when the time comes. Other than an epidural, Entonox gas (laughing gas) or a pethidine injection may be administered to help manage the pain.
If there are complications or risks to the health of the mother or baby, the doctor may decide on an emergency C-section.
Mothers who had a natural vaginal delivery without any medical complications can expect to be discharged from the hospital after 24 – 48 hours. As the body continues to heal for the next 3 – 6 weeks, vaginal bleeding may be experienced.
A C-section is a surgical procedure where the doctor makes an incision through the mother’s lower abdomen and uterus to deliver the baby. This can be done under regional (epidural or spinal block) or general anaesthetic where mothers will remain awake for the former option.
C-sections are normally carried out a week before the expected due date or when the doctor notes any complication or health issues during the pregnancy. Some mothers may have a change of mind after deciding on a natural delivery so it is still possible to request your doctor for an elective C-section delivery instead.
Despite being an option, C-sections are not recommended as it is still a major surgery with risks of complications for both mother and child.
For the mother, there are risks of infection, pain and discharge from the wound and infection of the womb lining or of the other organs. If there is excessive bleeding, a blood transfusion or further surgery to stop bleeding will be needed for serious cases.
There are also risks of blood clotting which could be very dangerous if it travels to the lungs or damage to the bladder, bowel or tubes that connect the kidneys which may escalate into further surgery. On a more serious note, a hysterectomy (removal of the womb) may be called upon if bleeding is life-threatening.
Meanwhile, the baby may be accidentally cut as the womb is opened despite being superficial wounds that will heal well. There are also chances of the baby experiencing breathing difficulties and may require longer monitoring in the hospital after.
As compared to 2-3 days of hospital stay for a natural delivery, C-section deliveries will need at least 4-5 days.
Mothers will be required to remain in the hospital for 2 – 4 days after delivery. in the first few weeks of recovery at home, the C-section scar may itch or cause pain that can be relieved with pain medication. Moving around and getting in and out of bed will also be difficult and painful at the start.
Even though a mother had not gone through vaginal delivery, they may still experience mild cramps, vaginal bleeding, or discharge for about 4 – 6 weeks. There will be a follow-up appointment with the doctor post-birth to check on the wound. At 6 weeks, there will be a second follow-up appointment to assess the state of recovery.
Weigh up the pros and cons for the health of both mother and baby as it may affect your future plans to have more children! 👶🏻💛🌟