In the United States today, about 33% of births are by c section (1). There are certainly times when a cesarean birth can promote the safest outcomes for mom and baby, yet research suggests that its use is not always medically indicated (2). With that in mind, it’s important to step back and evaluate the impact that a c section vs vaginal birth can have on moms and babies. Are there benefits of a vaginal birth? Absolutely, yes!
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So what are the benefits of vaginal birth. There are a number of them, and they include benefits for both mom and baby. None of these is more important than baby arriving safely, and there are sometimes cases when a c section is the best way achieve that. But when a c section is offered for reasons that may make it not essential, it’s important for you to be prepared with information on why a vaginal birth benefits both mom and baby.
Baby’s Respiratory System
Vaginal birth is good for baby’s respiratory system. The passage through the birth canal puts pressure on the baby’s chest, which helps to expel amniotic fluid from your baby’s lungs. As the fluid leaves, it creates more space for air. Ultimately, the high-pressure passage through the birth canal helps prepare your baby’s lungs to breathe effectively (3).
Baby’s Immune System
Vaginal birth is also good for baby’s immune system. As your baby descends through the birth canal, he picks up your healthy vaginal microbes on the way. This initial microbial exposure forms the start of your baby’s immune system. Research shows that babies who are delivered vaginally are less likely to develop asthma, Type 1 diabetes, allergic rhinitis, food allergies, and obesity than babies who are born via c section (4).
Beneficial Release of Hormones for Mom
The process of labor and vaginal birth involve a unique interplay of hormones. Oxytocin, beta-endorphines, epinephrine, and prolactin all work together to prepare you and baby for your relationship. For example, prolactin is a major hormone in the creation of breast milk. Prolactin release increases steeply as vaginal birth nears, aiding milk production and contributing to early breastfeeding success (5).
Smoother Recovery for Mom
Vaginal birth typically offers the quickest recovery period and the shortest hospital stays. Many moms say that they are able to stand up, walk, and care for themselves without any help within just a few hours of giving birth (4). When comparing a c section vs vaginal birth, women report less postpartum pain in general after a vaginal birth.
Safest Outcomes for Moms and Future Babies.
Women who give birth vaginally experience less risk of serious complications. This includes a lower risk of infections and blood clots, to name a few. Additionally, vaginal birth gives moms who want more children the best chance for implantation, placental health, and a strong uterus in future pregnancies (6).
At times, a cesarean birth is unavoidable and beneficial. However, for most low-risk pregnancies, couples can prepare prenatally to experience a low-intervention, vaginal birth. A high-quality natural childbirth class will prepare you with the tools and communication skills you need to work toward this goal. When considering your choice between c section vs vaginal birth, be sure to consider the unique benefits that vaginal birth can offer both mom and baby. Vaginal birth is a choice worth preparing and advocating for!
Kopa Birth’s online birthing classes allow you to prepare for a natural hospital birth from the comfort of your own home, 24/7. Enroll today in our free online childbirth class and start preparing for your natural birth!
- CDC – National Center for Health Statistics – Births — Method of Delivery. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/delivery.htm. October 7, 2106.
- American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2014, March). ACOG/SMFM Obstetric Care Consensus: Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.
- Buhimschi, C.C. & Buhimschi, I.A. (2006). Advantages of Vaginal Delivery. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecologys, 49, (1), 167-183.
- Childbirth Connection (2012). Vaginal or Cesarean Birth: What Is at Stake for Women and Babies? New York: Childbirth Connection.
- Buckley, S.J., (2015, January). Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care. Childbirth Connection.
- American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2013, March). Vaginal Delivery Recommended Over Maternal-Request Cesarean. News Release. http://www.aog.org/About-ACOG/News-Room/News-Releases/2013/Vaginal-Delivery-Recommended-Over-Maternal-Request-Cesarean