Natural birth or c-section?

Being pregnant with my first child and about 17 weeks to go before he's due date, I've been discussing birth options with The Husband. And what it's come down to is deciding between an elective c-section and a vaginal birth with epidural (because I am not that brave to do this without all the drugs in the world).

While he is supportive of my choice and willing to discuss choices and listen to my thought process, he's said it's ultimately up to me and he'll support any decision I make.

Pros and cons

There are pros and cons to both. A c-section is major abdominal surgery with a longer recovery period. Moving around is a mission and some women can't really care for their babies because they're bed ridden - but that's why you get a 4 day stay in hospital afterwards. There's also the risk of post-op infection, but that's a risk with any operation and is not exclusive to c-sections. With natural birth you're up on your feet almost immediately and post-birth recovery is a breeze. There's always the option of an epidural for pain relief if it all gets too much for mom to handle.

But with a c-section you dispel with the unknown variables that come with natural birth. You won't suddenly go into labour at 3am in the morning because you've scheduled it for the more considerate time of 2pm in the afternoon. You don't have the risk of tearing and your vagina stays in tact. It's also a quick procedure, about 20 minutes if I'm not mistaken whereas natural birth can be anywhere from 3 hours to 13 hours, and sometimes end in a emergency c-section.

I think I'd much prefer a scheduled c-section over labouring forever and then having an emergency procedure, it seems far less traumatic. There is a certain amount of panic and anxiety associated with an emergency c-section and moms who have set their hearts on natural birth are often disappointed with their birth experience.

A badge of honour

It seems like moms who have had natural birth tend to see it as a badge of honour and look down on moms who chose to have an elective c-section. Or that it's only okay to have one if there is a medical reason and even then the reaction is "Oh okay, that's fine but shame that you missed out on giving birth". I don't think that's fair, why does it matter how you've birthed your child into this world as long as your baby is delivered safely and healthily and that mom has had a good birth experience.

We asked our Facebook moms what the reasons were that that the chose either an elective c-section or a natural birth. Here's what they had to say:

Natural - I wanted to know what it feels like and I loved every moment of it. - Tania Horne

Pushy pushy baby! Had two vaginal births, It's the natural way & the bond of working together with the baby is amazing,overwhelming, I'd go 4 emergency Caesar if I had to save me & the baby's life though! - Miss-Zandy Miranda Maphaha

I didn't want natural birth at all - the idea just freaked me out. My babies were 3.8kgs and 3.9kgs at 39 weeks when I gave birth and there was no way I was pushing them out. I like to plan things and opted for an elective c-sections with both my pregnancies. They were both amazing experiences and I got to hold my baby straight away, was feeding them back in my room within 30 mins, up and walking the next day and driving within 2 weeks. I didn't have much pain and if I had to choose over again I would definately choose the same. - Brigitta Ellis-Nel

I'm also not one for natural birth, just like some people don't like dark chocolate, everyone is different, my c-sec was amazing and I walked around faster than the moms who had natural and torn, my boy was 4.1kg. I think its traumatic if you have an emergency c-sect because your heart is set on natural so you are not prepared and take longer to recover, but I chose c-sect, so I had an excellent recovery and positive all round experience. - Carmen Blumrick

Natural birth all the way! I was bullied by my former gynae to have a c section but told him to go jump there was nothing medically wrong with me not to have a normal delivery. Got a second opinion and had my beautiful baby boy all natural. Amazing how ones body bounces back. - Samantha Myburgh

Natural births with epidurals. I was coached by a friend (she basically talked me into it) , and my gynae preferred natural birth with uncomplicated pregnancies. My babies were 3.555 & 3.795 kg. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Healing was easy and with the epidural there was no pain. - Heather Janse Van Rensburg

I would have loved natural.. but after 26 hours of labour - I never dilated, and she had defecated inside me from not being able to go anywhere which stressed her out. I hated the c-section and the spinal tap didn't work for me. So had to be under completely, hated my birth and will never go through that again... ever. - Christine Parks

I've had one natural (with suction, forceps & episiotomy), one emergency c-section & one planned c-section (as I was high risk). If I had my way, I'd have had natural with all 3, even with the assistance. - Tracey Bruton

See more responses on our Facebook page.

More on different birth options:

Natural birth, epidural or c-section

The case for natural birth

Does birth affect the vagina?

Birth by C-section

Is birth by Caesarean ‘unnatural’?

Vaginal birth after Caesarean

How did you choose to birth your baby? Vote and tell us your birth experience below.

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