Small Talk#12: C-Section or Natural?

Is an elective Caesarian birth a good option for YOU?

option of C-section or natural childbirth C-section delivery c-section or natural childbirth natural delivery

Should you opt for a C-section or Natural childbirth?

Giving birth to a little human being is a perfectly natural event normally. According to an article in The Guardian, “Up to 90% of pregnant private hospital patients opt for C-section in parts of Cape Town, far exceeding WHO limit of 15% This is, according to an expert, a “recklessly high” number of pregnant woman choosing to have their baby delivered by C-section instead of natural child birth.

Reasons for choice of c-section vs natural vaginal delivery

1:In today’s society most women  are no longer the stay-at-home mom. They have careers for which they have studied and they are passionate about pursuing their chosen career even after becoming a mom.

2:Many career-oriented women want the birth of their child to be as organized as possible so that they can plan their pregnancy leave well in advance, arrange home care for the baby and so on.

3: Some women, even those who would be stay at home moms, are scared stiff of the pain of childbirth and the possible after effects. Strangely enough, those who choose elective C-sections don’t appear to be concerned about possible after effects of having major surgery!

Whilst C-sections can, in certain situations, be lifesaving for both moms and babes, one has to remember that a caesarian section is considered by the medical profession to be “major” surgery.

To make an informed decision why not have a look at the pros and cons of both C-sections and natural childbirth?

Risks of a C-section

1:  C-sections are usually scheduled for the 39th week of your pregnancy so as to avoid you going into labour. Sometimes the due date has been miscalculated, though, and the baby might then be pre-term and at risk of jaundice, respiratory problems or low birth weight.

2:  During your pregnancy your baby is actually breathing amniotic fluid in and out of his lungs – not air. When natural birth takes place, your baby is pushed and squeezed along the birth canal and the pressure of your contractions help to expel the fluid from your baby’s lungs. In addition, the hormones released during labour cause the baby to stop breathing in the amniotic fluid and the fluid which may remain in his lungs is absorbed, which leaves the lungs drier at birth so that breathing air now becomes the norm. C-section babies do not have this advantage and may be born with more fluid in their lungs which has to be suctioned out.

3:  The most common problem affecting babies born by C-section is abnormally fast breathing as it takes about 1 hour for any remaining fluid in the baby’s lungs to be reabsorbed. Normally there are no long term consequences for the fast breathing, but if baby’s lungs are immature there may be an increased risk of respiratory distress syndrome or hyaline membrane disease.

But all is not doom and gloom in having a C-section as there are some benefits.

Benefits of a C-section

1: Sometimes it is safer for both your baby and yourself such as if the baby is breeched and cannot be turned, if labour is prolonged, if there is a prolapsed umbilical cord or if a difficult delivery is anticipated.

2: In the case of an elective C-section, the medical team is ready and waiting with a paediatrician on hand to assess the baby. Also if there are any particular concerns during your pregnancy, the appropriate medical specialists will be present to handle these. Emergency caesarian sections have a higher complication rate compared with the planned procedures.

3: During a C-section, the baby has a lower risk of oxygen deprivation than a normal vaginal delivery.

Risks of natural childbirth

1: Perineal Tears – the soft tissue between the vulva and the anus is called the perineum. Normally this tissue stretches to accommodate giving birth, but sometimes small or even severe tears can occur and a lot of moms to be are fearful of this. Fortunately, although unpleasant and most uncomfortable, these tears usually heal well.

2: A very rare complication in natural birth is when the umbilical cord comes out before the baby. When this does happen, the cord can become squashed causing distress for the baby. In this case a caesarean section is often done immediately unless the birth is imminent

3: Babies are designed to be born vaginally and usually they are born without complications. Very occasionally the baby’s shoulder can be turned in such a way that it becomes difficult for the birth to continue without intervention, but the risk of this happening is very low and is more likely to occur in very big babies who weigh between 4kg-4.5kg.

Benefits of natural childbirth

1: Freedom to move around! You can walk, sit, lie down and do whatever makes you comfortable. You can also eat or drink to keep your strength up!

2: When one has a natural childbirth the body produces oxytocin which signals the uterus to begin contracting and it also signals the brain to produce endorphins which are nature’s natural pain killer.

3: Babies born through natural childbirth are more alert and show more interest in breastfeeding once delivered. One forgets that any drugs given to the mother during childbirth also pass through to the baby!! Also, moms recover much faster from a natural childbirth

So there you have it, ladies. These are by no means the only pros and cons of each way of giving birth. Doulas (or midwives) have reduced the risk of a natural birth turning into a caesarean one and births in which a doula assists seem to progress much more calmly. A doula can also ascertain if any intervention (like a C-section) has become necessary and will be there to reassure the mother should this happen. If opting for a natural childbirth, I would strongly recommend having a doula present.

Whichever you choose – C-section or Natural childbirth – your baby will still love you and still bond with you and you with him or her!

happy baby! photo credit: Lydia of GoFoto Lifestyle Newborn Photography

I would love to know your thoughts on this – just drop me a line either  by using the contact form below or by emailing me at I will get back to you – promise!!

Yours in newborn photography


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