Natural Birth vs. Elective C-Section: What Moms Should Know

Toward the end of pregnancy, not knowing when you're going into labor can be stressful. The anticipation of when that first contraction starts or the moment when your water breaks can make it seem like it's a moment away, but there is no real way to tell. Once you go into labor, who knows how long it's going to take before it's time to start pushing? Such thoughts may be nagging when all some moms just want to get the entire process over with so they can bring their new baby home.

Moms May Elect to Have a C-section

To bypass the ambiguity of when the delivery process is going to start, some women choose to have a cesarean section performed as an alternative to a vaginal birth, even when their baby is healthy. According to ABC News, more than half of C-sections were elective in 2009 and about 36 percent of them were scheduled earlier than the recommended 39 to 41 weeks of gestation.

The surgical procedure may be more convenient for women who are anxious about labor and want more control over their baby's birth, as reported by the news source. There is also a possible decrease in the risk of incontinence for the mother, as well as a lower chance that the baby will experience oxygen deprivation or birth trauma.

However, C-sections are surgical, and there are a number of risks involved, such as potential complications from anesthesia. Also, there may be increased blood loss, the possibility of infection and longer hospital stay, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

After one C-section, mothers can decide whether to have the same procedure for their next child or to deliver vaginally. A vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC) is generally considered safe, but there are always risks, including that the scar from the previous abdominal surgery may rupture while pushing the next baby out, according to the HHS. Doctors can discuss the option of a VBAC with interested moms and let them know if they're a good candidate. It's something to consider if you're planning on expanding your family.

Many Moms Opt for Vaginal Births from the Get-go

When you think of vaginal births, you may think "ow," especially if you're familiar with just how small the birth canal is. It's no secret or myth that the process is painful, despite some relief provided by regional anesthetics that can be administered during the labor period. As appealing as it may be to be medicated during this time, natural births have some perks. For instance, there is a decreased risk of maternal hemorrhage, infection, blood clots and damage to internal organs. Additionally, the baby is not as susceptible to developing allergies, asthma and respiratory issues as it would be if delivered via C-section, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Not to mention, most women can leave the hospital sooner after a natural delivery.

Make Your Own Informed Decision

In 2009, there were approximately 2.8 million vaginal deliveries and 1.4 million C-sections in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About twice as many women still choose to deliver vaginally, but increasingly more are opting for surgery. But, whatever method you decide, the choice is ultimately yours to make.

How have you made this decision in the past? Were there any factors in particular that helped make up your mind? Leave your answers in the comments section!


I am always sad when women are driven to choose an Elective C-section because of fear and lack of support for a natural birth. I am a Midwife in England and have assisted hundreds of women to give birth in a way that leaves them feeling empowered and elated. Never forget that the birth canal is designed in such a way that the muscles are folded and tight until the hormone of birth and the baby itself smoots them out and then the opening thins out and stretches.