According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2018, 31.9 percent of all U.S. deliveries occurred by caesarean section, or C-section. So why are surgical deliveries nearing the amount of natural births? Our Houston, Texas OB/GYN practice has compiled everything you need to know about giving birth via C-section versus naturally.

Because even if you plan a natural birth, there are numerous occasions in which we decide a C-section is the best course of action for both you and baby, so it’s important you understand all delivery possibilities. 

What is a C-section?

Rather than giving birth through a vaginal delivery, a C-section is a surgical delivery method during which the doctor delivers the baby through incisions in the abdomen and uterus. A C-section is a major surgery.

Why have a C-section?

We determine the most appropriate birthing method based on what will be the safest for both the patient and the patient’s baby. There are a number of medical reasons we may suggest a C-section versus a natural birth.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • If you are pregnant with two or more babies
  • If you suffer from any number of conditions, including high blood pressure, STDs or diabetes
  • If your baby is positioned in a way that cannot be repositioned and surgical delivery is the safest course of action 
  • In extreme cases, if your baby is not getting enough oxygen and we need to initiate an immediate delivery

Some parents elect to have a C-section, especially if a former vaginal birth resulted in complications, but we will thoroughly discuss this option with you before making any decisions. 

What are the benefits of a C-section vs. a natural birth?

Following a vaginal birth, you will experience some tearing of the vagina as your baby travels down the birth canal. This tearing can have larger effects on your bowel and uterine functions.

Some patients, especially if they have previously had complicated natural births, may want to opt for what they believe to be a more controlled delivery option in a C-section.

What are the risks of a C-section vs. a vaginal birth?

Since a C-section is a major surgery, there are a number of risks to this delivery option. Undergoing a C-section will also affect future pregnancies and your delivery options for those. 

If you give birth via C-section, you will have to stay in the hospital longer post-birth than if you delivered naturally. Be prepared for a recovery period that you would not experience with a natural birth. You also risk blood loss, infection, blood clots and injury to your bowels when you have a c-section.

Lastly, while with natural birth you have near immediate contact with your child (barring complications), when you deliver via C-section you do have to wait longer to begin skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding.

As our patient, the delivery method you undergo is not a small decision nor one we can 100 percent predict. We will extensively evaluate both your medical history, factors of your pregnancy and your personal preferences before determining a course of action.

Please call or visit us with any questions or concerns on C-sections or delivery options.

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