Natural Birth vs Caesarean

Hi Ladies

I have always had a fear of labour/childbirth but, after choosing to become pregnant, I put those fears on the backburner and decided that, in theory, a natural birth would be the best option, after all it's natural right!

However, now that I am entering week 27, I am starting to think about the birth as it is coming ever closer... that said, I still haven't been able to make myself watch One Born Every Minute, which I intend to do, as part of preparing myself for what might be in store.

As an aside I have a low lying placenta which means after a scan at week 34 I will know whether or not I need to have a mandatory c-section. Assuming the placenta has risen and therefore natural birth is still an option, I am not sure what the best option is: natural birth or c-section (assuming my hospital allows elective c-sections) and wondered if anyone could share their thoughts/experiences on the pros and cons?

35 Replies

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  • I have had both..but my section was in my early 20's..15 years ago. so I was pretty much up on my feet thou I did spend 5 days in hospital.. Which probably helped alot as it gave me time to recuperate. . These days your out in 2 days if no complications... my friends have had sections due to being breech and they have had alot of pain after..One of friends saps it put her off having another child because of the pain. . But I know another lady who has had 5 sections and gets on with it discharges herself after 24 hours. .. Don't know how she does it! .. so I suppose it just depends on the individual, they do say natural is the first choice as having an operation comes with its own risks but then childbirth also comes with an elementof risk. . It's ur personal choice. . I'm hoping I can have a vaginal delivery this time as I have had 2 previous vaginal deliveries since my section.. Just because I'll be on feet quicker. .and being an older mum this time I want to be fighting fit ASAP. . But if I have have a section then so be it I'll deal with it as it comes :) hope u get what u want and all goes well xxx

  • Thank you for your comment Babymother.

    I think you are right in that it depends on the individual as to how you cope/how quickly you recover. I guess as I've not been through it before I have no idea what I can handle and how much the process will push me to my limits. Most of my friends ended up having emergency c-sections so I don't have much representation of the other perspective within my friendship circle. Overall I am generally leaning towards a natural birth but aside from the pain, my main fear is tearing, episiotomy, etc. as these may potentially have ongoing implications after birth.

    So how far along are you? This is baby number 4 right? xx

  • I had a little tear after my first and tore inside but that actually didn't hurt and healed really well. .. The tear outside took a few weeks heal and stung having a wee.. But it wasn't too bad... It's amazing how u manage to deal with whatever is thrown at u because u are concentrating on ur little one. . I'm 15 Weeks with my 5 th xx

  • 5th!!!! You deserve a medal!

  • Lol I still can't believe I'm having another baby. . That in 6 months I will be holding a baby again in my arms (all goes well) I'm the most apprehensive then I have ever been. .. Do love babies. . I'm very blessed to have 4 beautiful children xx

  • I hope as you say that the maternal instinct and awe of having a new baby will supersede any aches and pains I might feel after birth.

    Wow, 4 children and one on the way - that is definitely an amazing achievement! Congratulations and all the best for your pregnancy.

    xx

    p.s. why are you most apprehensive with this latest pregnancy?

  • I am just scared that something may go wrong I've been so blessed that nothing bad happened in all my pregnancies and just feellike are my odds less because I've had 4 pregnancies and 4 beautiful babies ?... watching 16 kids and counting did help make me feel better but it's a secret worry...I can't help it, I do try to be optimistic but I am scared. .I just hope and pray that everything is Ok my cousin said he was so worried about his childwhen his partner was pregnant and I so know what he means. . I really want to relax and enjoy and im getting better and I love being pregnant so gotta try and take a chill pill:)

  • I don't think you have anything to worry about. I don't think life dishes it out like that, i.e. just because you've had 4 good pregnancies, the 5th won't be...

    That said, worrying whether all will be okay is natural - we all do it whether it's our first or 16th lol! It's part of motherhood i guess - the maternal instinct kicks in well before the baby is born.

    Keep focusing on enjoying of being pregnant. Chill pills at the ready xx

  • hey, obviously with a natural birth (unless complications) the recovery time is less, I personally don't think watching obem will help u make the decision purely because it only shows u the bits u want to see. my personal opinion is if u can then I would go natural all the way, I am opting for a water birth. Obviously if u have to have a c section for ur health then that's whats needed to get ur little munchkin into the world. I just believe that natural was the way that it was meant to happen and yeh ok its gonna hurt theres no getting around tht but couple of hours/days worth of pain is worth what u get at the end. I am not saying having a C-section is wrong but my opinion is natural (if u can) all the way x

  • Thank you for your reply Ceribean.

    How far along are you and is this your first too? You seem very brave (or maybe I'm just a woos! ;o)

    I agree, watching obem won't help me make a decision but I think I need to watch it just to get my head round what actually happens in a delivery room as right now I haven't been able to bring myself to think about it! Lol!

    I also agree with you in that I too am generally leaning towards a natural birth but, aside from the pain, my main fears are tearing, episiotomy, etc. as these could potentially have ongoing implications after birth.

    Does tearing, etc. concern you or do you see it as just par for the course?

  • I am 22 weeks and yes this is my first so like u I don't know what to expect, ur not a woos and I don't think I am brave, I am just in the mind set that I was made to give birth naturally so its just part of the parcel, but from people that I have spoken to they are like if you can do it naturally as u will feel better about it. I accept tearing as a part of giving birth, a lot of the women in my family have had it happen to them and they say yes it obviously is very sore but I believe quite common and a small price to pay for having a baby and when u think about it something that size coming out theres got to be some kind of give lol, I am not saying don't watch obem, I watched before I was pregnant but I just took it like any other documentary as there obviously is a lot more too it so when u watch it just take it with a pinch of salt.

  • I think you're right about mindset. Mind over matter in many situations is the main thing rather than what you actually go through. For some reason, I have got myself into a bit of a tizz about it... I think because first of all, I'm not sure which type of birth I want but also the decision may be out of my hands if the scan says I still have placenta praevia. And if I do get the choice and put it on my birth plan it could all go out the window anyway lol.

    I have some thinking to do but mainly I think I need to calm down and accept whatever will be will be. After all, trillions of women have gone through it and have had multiple children so I assume it can't be that bad! Either way, there are risks but the reward will be worth it!

    How are you finding pregnancy so far? xx

  • Hi! I'm pregnant with my second and had a natural water birth with my son which was actually a wonderful experience! I was petrified of tearing and unfortunately I did end up with a secondary tear and obviously stitches to suit - healing was really uncomfortable but I can honestly say that I couldn't care less - it's hard to imagine how being besotted with your new bundle can distract you from such things! If I had to walk around with stitches in for the rest of my life for him I would in a heartbeat.

    Personally, if I can avoid major surgery without risking mine or baby's health I will, and have seen friends off their feet for weeks post-section whereas I was home 5 hours after birth which is even more of a consideration with a toddler in tow. That's not to say that I think there is a right or wrong way, it sounds like you're doing research in to what suits you which is great - I hope hearing my experience has helped a little bit :-)

    Good luck, you're nearing the home straight now x

  • Hey Dons88,

    Thanks for your reply.

    You sharing your experience with me has definitely helped. It's good to hear that it's not just me who's scared - often when you talk to mums they say, you'll be fine and either weren't scared at the time or if they were have clearly forgotten! I really hope as you say that the maternal instinct and the joy of having a new baby kicks in supersedes any aches and pains I might feel after birth.

    A water birth sounds great. Yep I am definitely looking into all options, though the decision may be out of my hands if the scan says I still have placenta praevia. And even if I do get the choice and put it on my birth plan it could all go out the window anyway lol.

    Yep third trimester next week, everything is definitely becoming more of a reality!

    how far along are you? xx

  • Am 32weeks with my first and can't wait!i am scared yes but it's natural all the way for me unless any complications .i will ask for epidural if the pain becomes unbearable. I am just being positive and really excited I just want whatever is best for my baby and me of course.id say its natural to be scared you are not on your own.x

  • Thanks Azelia.

    Sounds like a positive mental attitude or PMA is the order of the day! I tend to overthink and like to be in control so the unknown is quite scary for me. That said, I agree whatever is best for baby and me will dictate.

    Wow only 8 weeks to go for you! Not long at all. All the best with it xx

  • Hi I felt just like you but when I fell pregnant put the birthing process out of my mind. At 30 wks I was told baby was breech so I thought great c-section. However at 38wks I was scanned and baby was head down. I suffered a week of worry and panic attacks at the thought of giving birth naturally when I went back to the hospital at 39 weeks I discussed by fears, concerns and worries with the midwife and consultant who were very understanding. I was also an older (40) first time mum. She agreed to me having a c-section 3 days later my beautiful daughter was born no problems or issues for either of us. The first day after the section getting up was a bit painful but once you are up and about no issues. I was discharged on the third day. Because my husband had started a new job he couldn't have anytime off work so I was on my own. I had no problems feeding or changing my baby. I think it is all down to how you deal with the pain. By day 7 wasn't taking any pain relief. It is really a personal decision go with how you feel at the end of the day it's your body. Enjoy your pregnancy. My daughter is 12 wks old today carnt believe she is already three months time just flies. Good luck x

  • Thanks for your feedback Hincha.

    It's definitely interesting hearing your experience. One of my friends said similar to you - both her sections were fine and she was fine without pain relief in 10 days. It's amazing how different people's experiences are in terms of recovery post section.

    Congratulations on the birth of your little one and for managing without assistance straight away. Sounds like you did a sterling job! Pregnancy is going slowly for me but friends of mine have warned me that time does indeed go quickly once your little one is born! Enjoy your time with her and thanks again xx

  • I have had 3 sections, first emergency the last two planned. i personally if given the choice i would of loved to of tried to give birth naturally but didn't get the option but i don't have any fears of labour etc. My last section was on.the 4-4-13 i ended up with a double spinal block so couldn't.move my legs until 6 hrs later. i did ask to get up after but they didn't allow me until 12 hrs after section. I was up feeding changing my baby the first night myself which they were surprised at. But i did feel good. I personally didn't take medication the day after has i didnt need it. I think it helped.that i had, had two previous sections so i knew what to expect but my third section i felt great. The recovery time is longer than a natural birth, no heavy lifting, hoovering for 6-8 weeks after.

  • I have had 3 sections, first emergency the last two planned. i personally if given the choice i would of loved to of tried to give birth naturally but didn't get the option but i don't have any fears of labour etc. My last section was on.the 4-4-13 i ended up with a double spinal block so couldn't.move my legs until 6 hrs later. i did ask to get up after but they didn't allow me until 12 hrs after section. I was up feeding changing my baby the first night myself which they were surprised at. But i did feel good. I personally didn't take medication the day after has i didnt need it. I think it helped.that i had, had two previous sections so i knew what to expect but my third section i felt great. The recovery time is longer than a natural birth, no heavy lifting, hoovering for 6-8 weeks after.

  • I have had 3 sections, first emergency the last two planned. i personally if given the choice i would of loved to of tried to give birth naturally but didn't get the option but i don't have any fears of labour etc. My last section was on.the 4-4-13 i ended up with a double spinal block so couldn't.move my legs until 6 hrs later. i did ask to get up after but they didn't allow me until 12 hrs after section. I was up feeding changing my baby the first night myself which they were surprised at. But i did feel good. I personally didn't take medication the day after has i didnt need it. I think it helped.that i had, had two previous sections so i knew what to expect but my third section i felt great. The recovery time is longer than a natural birth, no heavy lifting, hoovering for 6-8 weeks after.

  • I have had 3 sections, first emergency the last two planned. i personally if given the choice i would of loved to of tried to give birth naturally but didn't get the option but i don't have any fears of labour etc. My last section was on.the 4-4-13 i ended up with a double spinal block so couldn't.move my legs until 6 hrs later. i did ask to get up after but they didn't allow me until 12 hrs after section. I was up feeding changing my baby the first night myself which they were surprised at. But i did feel good. I personally didn't take medication the day after has i didnt need it. I think it helped.that i had, had two previous sections so i knew what to expect but my third section i felt great. The recovery time is longer than a natural birth, no heavy lifting, hoovering for 6-8 weeks after.

  • Thanks for your reply immysarch.

    A double spinal block sounds heavygoing. You sound very strong to have pushed through the pain and got on with it.

    xx

  • If you can have a natural birth, it is better for your baby. Research shows that in a natural birth your babys colon is colonised by good bacteria from your vagina, which helps improve their immune system. If born by c-section, they get colonised with bacteria from the environment, not as good. I hope this helps...

  • Thanks lady123. You are right a natural birth would definitely be better for the baby than c-section. I was a c-section baby and I have asthma and other allergies (and know others who are the same) so wonder if it was for that for reason.

    I'm not scared of the pain of childbirth it is purely the potential for 3rd/4th degree tears which is massively scaring me.

  • I am having my first and I think I am going with the flow, I have set no preferences, either way I can prepare for either outcome. I also worry what is right and wrong, but I kind of think what ever happens, as long as munster is born, I'm happy. Good luck with your pregnancy!

  • Thanks Gingerbaby.

    Up until now, I have been able to go with the flow but recently it dawned on me, that in the next 12 weeks, I will be going through labour and when I started reading up about it and came across tearing particularly 3rd & 4th degree, it really freaked me out!

  • Hi RMRS,

    I am currently 35 weeks exactly and totally sympathise with you. A friend of mine recently had to have a c-section because of placenta praevia and I found myself slightly envying her because at least the decision was out of her hands. After she had it, interestingly she said that she would have had a natural birth again if she could have (her first two babies came naturally) but that her husband thought the c-section was 'infinitely preferable'! At the moment I am also leaning towards having a natural birth, especially as I have just invested in an 'epi-no' device which is meant to reduce the risk of tears etc, but I am still quite apprehensive about it - mainly because of tearing / pelvic floor damage. A lot of friends do say that tearing - though it sounds awful - is no problem though ... xx

  • Thanks for your reply Hippolike. It is reassuring to know that someone else understands my viewpoint!

    As you said, in part I was hoping they would say I need to have a section as then the decision would be out of my hands. I know a vaginal birth is the natural way and 1st/2nd degree tearing I accept generally goes with the territory but 3rd & 4th degree sound like they take much longer to heal and have potential long term consequences. So I end up freaking out thinking that I would be mad to actually elect for a process which could result in tearing of the urethra/anal sphincter!

    I am considering perineal massage in case a natural birth is what I end up having. How have you found the epi-no so far? 35+4 - not long to go for you now! xx

  • Hi I'm 36 weeks and booked my elective section with the consultant last week so my LO will be making an apperance in 3 weeks time :-). I've been deliberating for months now over natural v c section due to having SPD from week 16, although the consultant said the SPD was not really a reason to do a section the fact that I've pretty much been off my feet for 20 weeks has left me very out of shape and a fear that I won't be able to cope physically plus I'm an older first time mum so am higer risk for complications anyway. I'm not too concerned with the recovery pain or being off my feet for longer following the section as this has been the world I've lived in for 20 weeks now but I am a bit worried about the spinal and the op itself.

  • Forgot to mention probably the most important thing the consultant said to me whe I said I just want to make the right decision was that there is no right or wrong decision, no-one can predict the future and what is important is to make a decision I'm comfortable with.

  • Thanks for your comments Georgia28.

    That is so true about it being right for you rather than right or wrong in itself. I haven't been looking at it in that way - I have been feeling as though there is a right way (vaginal birth) and a wrong way (section) as most people are so pro vaginal birth. In theory I would like a vaginal birth but have my fears and so want to be sure it is right for me. It sounds like you have made a good decision that is right for you. Only 3 weeks to go for you - you must be very excited!!

    Thanks again for sharing. All the best xx

  • Hi RMRS,

    I haven't started using the epi-no yet, as I need to buy some alcohol product to disinfect it :) But I started doing perineal massage on the weekend, and it does give you a sense of what the crowning feeling would feel like (i.e. stretching / burning in the perineal area). However, I am still tossing up about the whole natural birth / c-section thing. My current plan is to try for a natural birth, as long as the baby is early or on time, but I am considering booking in a c-section for after my due date, because I am not overly keen on being induced, and induction apparently carries a slightly increased risk of the need for an assisted delivery (forceps / ventouse).

    I, like you, would love to have a natural birth if I could be told in advance that all would go smoothly. But I keep having this image of me being in horrific pain, and stressed out, and thinking: why on earth did I opt for this?! At the same time, I think that having a c-section, when I might be quite capable of having a smooth natural birth, is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut ... xx

  • Hey Hippolike

    Perineal massage sounds like an 'interesting' experience! I haven't decided when I will start it... but I'll have to do so soon-ish particularly as you say it gives an indication of what crowning might be like plus as we said previously, anything to reduce the likelihood/severity of tearing.

    I like your idea about the two-fold plan, definitely something to consider... I'm not keen on the idea of induction either. It's great to hear that someone else is experiencing the same sentiments as me... I couldn't have put it better myself about the fear of things not go smoothly versus feeling that maybe having a caesarean is slightly OTT when natural birth may be totally feasible.

    How's pregnancy for you these days given that your due date is approaching? xx

  • Hey RMRS,

    Apart from fear of the birth aspect, everything's going well thanks! Tomorrow is my last day at work, which is quite a relief. I'm finding I'm feeling increasingly uncomfortable sitting at my desk, feeling breathless, with a fast resting heartbeat etc. But I'm still sleeping fine, and not yet experiencing any early cramping / twinges that some people mention.

    I still haven't started using the epi-no, since I've had trouble finding the alcohol-based disinfectant product that you are meant to use to clean it between uses! But I have now ordered it from a medical supplies company and it should arrive tomorrow. Am continuing with the perineal massage, which is not too bad.

    There is some helpful guidance on the RCOG website (which you might have already seen) about the statistics re 3rd and 4th degree tears. It seems that there are a number of factors making them more likely, including having a large baby, a first pregnancy (yikes!), being induced, and needing an assisted delivery (forceps / ventouse). Also, you are more likely to need an assisted delivery if you are induced. So, it seems to me that avoiding needing to be induced is potentially a good way to reduce your chances. But overall, the risk of a third or fourth degree still seems to be quite low. xx

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