In the United States today, about 33% of women experience a c section vs vaginal birth (1). There are certainly times when a cesarean birth can promote the safest outcomes for mom and baby, yet research suggests that it’s 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!
Let’s discuss 5 benefits of a vaginal birth:
1. Vaginal birth is good for your 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).
2. Vaginal birth is good for your baby’s immune system.
As 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).
3. Vaginal birth initiates a beneficial release of hormones.
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).
4. Vaginal birth offers mom the best chance for a smooth postpartum period.
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.
5. Vaginal birth promotes the 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 towards this goal. When considering your choice between c section vs vaginal birth, be sure to consider the unique benefits of 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!
(1) CDC – National Center for Health Statistics – Births — Method of Delivery. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/delivery.htm. October 7, 2106.
(2) 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.
(3) Buhimschi, C.C. & Buhimschi, I.A. (2006). Advantages of Vaginal Delivery. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecologys, 49, (1), 167-183.
(4) Childbirth Connection (2012). Vaginal or Cesarean Birth: What Is at Stake for Women and Babies? New York: Childbirth Connection.
(5) Buckley, S.J., (2015, January). Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing: Evidence and Implications for Women, Babies, and Maternity Care. Childbirth Connection.
(6) 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