Perhaps you are getting ready to have your first baby, or you are considering a different birthing plan for your second child. Which type of delivery option is best for you—c-section or vaginal?
Baby One: The “Natural” (Vaginal) Delivery
Before I had my first daughter, I was determined to have a natural birth. My mom did it, and I was going to do anything in my power to follow in her footsteps. In addition, the birthing classes we took at the hospital told us that a natural birth was the best type of birthing plan. The nurse in charge of the classes warned us that our doctors might try to convince us to have a scheduled C-section if our baby was too big. She encouraged us to go ahead and try a natural birth. In fact, she’d seen many women deliver large babies, no problem! In my head, I thought that since I was an athletically built, 6-foot tall woman that my body could deliver a large baby.
I Was Warned…
My doctors ordered a special ultrasound to check the size of the baby at 8 months. She was big. From that moment on, they recommended a scheduled C-section at every visit. At each visit, I said no. I wanted to try a natural birth. They warned me over and over that I could have problems. The baby was really big. No one believed I would be able to deliver her myself. In fact, they wanted to induce me a week before her due date to give me more of a chance. Once again, I said no. I wanted to go into labor naturally.
Her due date arrived. No baby. I had to be induced, which is not a good start to a natural birth. Instead of gradually increasing contractions and pain, the medicine makes you have strong contractions almost immediately. Four hours in and I requested an epidural. That was my best decision of the day! (In case you haven’t delivered a baby yet, and you are worried about the pain of the epidural- trust me, it’s nothing compared to the pain of labor.)
I took a nap the rest of the afternoon until the doctor came in and told me it was time to push. I pushed for 2 hours. Success! I proved everyone wrong and delivered Big C vaginally! I was so proud of myself. My baby was beautiful, and I did not have to have a C-section. I felt like I really dodged a bullet! That is, until they took out the epidural and the medicine wore off. That night I lay in bed all night with tears just streaming down my face from the pain.
The problem with delivering large babies is that they often cause 3rd and 4th degree tears to the mother as they come out. I ended up with a 3rd degree tear. I couldn’t walk for weeks without help. I was in constant pain. Sitting, standing, walking, and laying down all hurt if I did any one of them for too long. Sitting on frozen witch-hazel pads and taking Tylenol was the only relief I had. (As a breastfeeding mother, they didn’t give me anything else for the pain.) Any type of bathroom visit resulted in tears and bleeding. It was terrible. I knew I made a mistake. I should have listened to my doctors!
Baby Two: The C-section Delivery
When I got pregnant the second time, I was determined to do things differently. My doctors knew my recovery complications from my first child. They asked if I was willing to consider a scheduled C-section this time around if the baby was big. I said, “YES!” I knew it couldn’t be any worse than my first experience, and I absolutely could not do that again.
As the months passed, we kept an eye on the baby. Sure enough, Little C was a big girl too. With one month to go, I scheduled the C-section. This time, I went into labor on my own, two weeks early! We arrived at the hospital at 1:30 in the morning and had little C a few hours later at 5:15. (Paperwork takes a ridiculous amount of time.)
Going into the C-section, I was very nervous about getting the spinal block, which is what you get instead of an epidural. I knew I wouldn’t be in terrible agony and would therefore notice the pain of a large needle in my back. As it turns out, the worst experience and pain I had that day was my IV. (They had to try three times to get it in my arm.) The spinal block didn’t hurt at all. It hurts less than getting a flu shot. No joke! The needle only goes in a little bit and numbs you. Then they push the needle in more, and they numb you again. They keep doing that until you are good to go.
My second birth experience was awesome! I wasn’t in blinding pain. In no time, I was moving around, showering by myself, having pain-free bowel movements, etc… no problem! I was thrilled! In my opinion, a scheduled C-section is the gold standard of delivery. I had minimal pain, a speedy recovery, and an all-around pleasant experience.
Things to Keep in Mind
So, when you are faced with delivery decisions, here are some things to consider. (They may have told me this prior to my first delivery, but I wasn’t listening to reason then.) The worst type of delivery/recovery is an emergency C-section. I have yet to talk to a woman who had a positive emergency C-section experience. They all have beautiful, healthy children, but the moms endured a lot of pain to deliver them.
The second worst type of delivery/recovery is a vaginal birth with a 4th or 3rd degree tear. That is what I experienced, and trust me, you don’t want to do it! If you can have a regular-sized baby, and your body minimally tears, then a vaginal delivery is probably right for you. In fact, my sister-in-law vaginally delivered twins, at 5 lbs each, and was up bee-boppin’ around as soon as she was released from the hospital!
Finally, you should know that your doctor will only perform a maximum of three C-sections for you. (Each time you have a C-section, your chances of having a hysterectomy in your lifetime increases by 25%. ) So, if you want more than three children, you’ll have to stick with as many vaginal deliveries as you can.
My advice, listen to your doctor. They have a degree and experience in delivering babies. I think my whole first-time baby experience would have been a lot better if I had!
Q: If you’ve had both types of deliveries, what type would you recommend?