Written by Team ParentCircle and published on 22 June 2021.
Today, many women are opting for C-section for many reasons - fear of labour pain, excessive blood loss during delivery and other complications. But, should this be preferred over natural childbirth?
Kavita Anand, an HR manager, was hesitant to go for a natural childbirth and opted for a caesarean one to avoid pain. After the birth of the baby, Kavita realized this was not a good decision as her child faced breathing problems. The doctor informed her that many children who get delivered via C-section often face many health problems later in life. If you are one of those would-be mothers debating over a natural or a C-section, please read the article below before you take the final call.
Although women have the right to choose to give birth by either the natural or caesarean way, one can always offer counselling to help them make a clear decision.
It is important to calm down and understand that while modern medicine allows us to foresee any difficulties with a normal birth, overuse of medical resources in childbirth can lead to a changed mindset. According to a study titled ' BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. published in EurekAlert,' women who have fear of natural childbirth spend a long time in labor than those who don't.
Let us look at why it might be preferable to have a natural childbirth over a C-Section.
Birth is like a symphony of hormones. Each hormone plays an important role in the process and recovery. "When you surgically deliver, you miss out on the hormonal balance, which is required to recover," says Dr. Sonali Santhanam.
A C-section requires a major abdominal surgery. There is more bleeding involved in a C-section than with a normal birth. The first day after the delivery, the mother is kept catheterized and is maintained on IV drips. This, along with the pain of surgery can limit the mother's mobility, and ability to care for her baby. In addition, there is also the risk of infection at the incision site and of the uterus or other pelvic organs. This further delays recovery time and interferes with the mother and baby bonding.
After the operation, the initiation of the baby into breastfeeding is delayed as mothers who have had a C-section need more time to recover. Even by the second day, it is hard for a mother to independently breastfeed because of the IV lines.
The spinal anesthesia given during C-section and painkillers that are given in the subsequent days can pass to the baby and make the baby excessively drowsy. This can impact the baby's natural feeding instincts.
The use of IV drips and fluid overload in delivery can cause pathological and painful breast engorgement, which is a situation when the milk builds up in the breast but cannot be extracted with breastfeeding or pumping.
As compared to a natural childbirth, the recovery period after a C-section is much longer. Plus, the movement of the mother is limited in the first few days. Also, getting back to an exercise regime to get back in shape after a C-section takes 12-16 weeks as opposed to 4-6 weeks after a normal birth.
After a caesarean operation, the pain at the incision site can last for several months due to overgrowth of the scar tissue causing adhesions between the scar and the underlying tissues. Such superficial adhesions need to be treated by a physiotherapist.
In most cases, babies delivered by C-section are more likely to be admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) due to difficulties in breathing. Babies born by caesarean section are more likely to have breathing problems and develop several chronic diseases, including childhood-onset diabetes, allergies with cold-like symptoms and asthma, later in life.
Apgar score is a method to summarize the health of newborns. A caesarean childbirth might result in low Apgar scores due to the usage of anesthesia during surgery and due to lack of immediate skin-to-skin contact. The new-born might have to be admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
"Babies who are born because of a C-section face a higher risk of injury by the scalpel during delivery than with an instrumented delivery using a forceps," says Dr Sonali.
In some cases, a C-section is the only alternative and is recommended by the doctors themselves as it seems to be a safer option than natural childbirth. However, this does not imply that natural childbirth is not safe. In fact, many women prefer natural childbirth despite of the pain and complications because children born due to this process have few health problems later in life.
With inputs from Dr. Sonali Santhanam, PhD., Ms.PT.