Cesarean vs. Vaginal Birth: What’s Better for You and Your Baby?

If you’re a mom-to-be, you may wonder about options for giving birth to your baby. To start, you should think about your health and health history. This will help you and your healthcare provider decide if you may need a cesarean section (C-section) or vaginal birth.

Should you opt for a cesarean?

A C-section may be better if:

  • You’re expecting multiples. You may be pregnant with twins, triplets, or more.

  • Your baby is in the bottom-first or breech position

  • You’ve had a C-section with a vertical cut

  • You have a health issue that makes vaginal birth unsafe. These can include diabetes, high blood pressure, or an infection, such as active herpes.

  • The placenta, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to your baby, blocks the opening of your uterus. This is called placenta previa.

After you go into labor, certain things may happen that may make it better for your baby to be born by C-section. This is done for your baby’s wellbeing.

Should you go for a vaginal birth?

For most women, a vaginal birth is safer and healthier. Vaginal birth cuts the risk for many complications. With a vaginal birth, a woman has the following:

  • A lower risk of needing a blood transfusion

  • A reduced risk of a postpartum infection. This includes a uterine infection. If you get an infection, you may need to go to the hospital again within the first two months after birth.

  • A lower risk of internal uterine scarring. This can cause fertility or birth problems in the future. You may have an ectopic pregnancy or your placenta may attach in the wrong place. A C-section can also cause an intestinal blockage or bladder injury.

A vaginal birth may injure a mom’s pelvic floor muscles. This can cause bladder and bowel control problems. This may lead to surgery.

Experts don’t agree if this is considered trauma. It may be due to using forceps or vacuum during birth, how long you push, or the baby’s size. It may also be caused by an episiotomy. This is a cut made to make the vaginal opening bigger right before birth. Overall, pelvic floor problems are rare enough that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that vaginal births are safer than C-sections.

Talk with your healthcare provider about your birth options. Ask what is best for you and your baby.  


Online Medical Reviewer: Bowers, Nancy, RN, BSN, MPHFoley, Maryann, RN, BSN

Date Last Reviewed: 4/18/2016

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