C-Section or Vaginal Birth? — The Bump

C-Section or Vaginal Birth?

Due to previous back surgeries, I was given the option of a C-Section over delievering vaginally... DH and I have been going back and forth about what we should do...

For you that have had both a C-Section and delivered vaginally, what are your opinions on the matter? I'm also curious about recovery time, activity level after both, issues with taking care of the baby, things you wish you knew before the procedures etc. Anything you think may be beneficial to us making the decision! Thanks ladies!

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Re: C-Section or Vaginal Birth?

  • You will likely get opinions going either way on this.  I had a vaginal birth, then a c-section and am now planning a VBAC with baby number 3.  In my experience, my vaginal birth was significantly better / easier than my c-section.  I hated the fact that I felt like the birth was completely out of my control with the cs, I also didn't like the epidural or being awake during the surgery.  My biggest issues though were following the surgery, I wasn't allowed to hold my DS for about 3 hours, didn't get that awesome rush of hormones that comes along with a vaginal birth and had a hard time bonding with my son.  The physical recovery was also much more difficult with the cs.  With the vaginal birth I felt really good within a few days - with the cs it took me about 2 months until I was pain free, however, there was a lot less bleeding after the cs.  I don't have any additional physical issues though and depending on your own back issues recovery may be better with a cs - it's something you should good information on before making the decision.  Also, assuming this is your first birth, I would take into consideration the number of children you plan/want to have as there is significant evidence indicating that risks of complications (especially placenta issues) go up with each subsequent cs.  Best of luck in your decision!
  • I had a vaginal birth with my son and a c section with my daughter due to placenta previa. My recovery was MUCH easier with the vaginal birth. I was up and around helping with diaper changes etc. the day after he was born. I was sore for a couple of days afterwards, but I could function. After my daughter was born I was in bed in pain for the first couple of days. DH had to do everything for our daughter. I also had major nausea from the pain meds and couldn't eat for almost 2 days. I passed out as soon as the nurses got me out of bed 24hrs after surgery. I didn't feel back to normal for a couple of weeks afterwards. I was also unable to lift my 18 month old son which was really hard.

    We are done having kids, but I would 100% try for a VBAC if we weren't done.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!

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  • I have not had a vaginal birth, but had a c/s. I just want to state my opinion which is--I really wish I could have experienced the vaginal birth. Also, for cosmetic reasons, I wish I would have had a vaginal birth--I'm very thing, but still have a nasty pooch where my incision was a whole 12 months later. I'm sure it could still get better, but it's still unsightly.

    If you think you could handle the vaginal birth, I'd say go for it. Whatever you decide, good luck. 

  • Just to offer you some perspective from the other side in case you do, indeed, need/want the c/s - many of us have easy recoveries!  Mine were both planned and I felt really good by the next day.  The absolute key is to get up and walk ASAP - the longer you stay in bed, the harder it will be.  DS was born at 11:30am and I got up around 8pm.  By the next morning I was walking the halls and caring for him with ease.  DD was born at 7:30am and I badgered the nurse to remove my catheter and get me up from the second I got to my room.  I got up around 2pm and felt good by that night.  We had the baby room in with us both times, and even when DH would leave to go home and shower or get us food or whatever, I was fine to take care of baby on my own.

    Both times I was functioning normally by the time we went home and driving in a week and a half.  I have no regrets about the c/s births, probably in part because I chose them (I understand it might be harder for those who have their heart set on delivering vaginally).  I gladly signed up for a 3rd, even though one OB I interviewed in our new city was open to VBA2C.

    You can have a great c/s recovery or a tough one - just as you can have a rough vag recovery or an easy one.  One thing to consider is how many children you want.  Many OBs frown upon more than 3 or 4 c/s, so if you want a really big family, that may be a reason to try for a vag birth.  

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  • I've only had a C-section but thought I would give you my input as well, I tried really hard for a vaginal birth only to end up with the c-section. The surgery itself was not so good, I went into shock because I hemorrhaged and lost a lot of blood. but afterwards I healed up really quick, I was up and walking within 8 hours of the surgery and it felt good to walk.

    I didn't get to hold my son right away it was like 2 hours after he was out that I got to hold him and I still felt a connection to him. I will say though that one of the nurses warned me that most moms don't feel connected to their babies because they don't get to see them when they come out.

    as for the scar I got lucky and they cut me so low that I can still wear a bikini if I want (I don't). 

    Honestly with my next child I am going to try for a VBAC but if I cant for whatever reason I am totally cool with another C-section. 

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  • imagemlf625:

    One thing to consider is how many children you want.  Many OBs frown upon more than 3 or 4 c/s, so if you want a really big family, that may be a reason to try for a vag birth.  

    I agree with this! 

    My VBAC was an easier recovery, no question. The thing that was easiest about vaginal vs. c-section was that it was easier to get around those first few days - getting up and down is incredibly hard after a c-section.

    I felt back to normal within three weeks after my VBAC (DS was pretty huge, so I had some serious hip/pelvic pain also), but it took longer with my c-section (which was after laboring, so I was more beat up all-around). 

    Good luck!



    DS1 - Feb 2008

    DS2 - Oct 2010 (my VBAC baby!)

  • My first was a vaginal birth and the experience was fantastic. I was out of bed walking right after they cleaned me up. (they had me go to the bathroom and then to my new room for my stay). I went ahead and showerd about 1.5 hours after while family was playing with the baby. I felt great and recovery at home went smooth as well.

    My 2nd was an induction (due to GD and hypertension issues) and later that day we had to have a c-sec due to stalling and DD not coming down (found later due to her weight).  

    Definetly a different recovery experience.Since I had labored before having one, recovery was a bit harder (which they warned me about). The actual procedure went great for me but I just wasn't prepared for that recovery. The first week was the worst. Every movement that required me to use those muscles felt like my stomach was tearing open.

    DH had to help me up out of chairs or bed and I would yell while he was getting me up because it would hurt so bad. I had to have lots more pain killers than with my vaginal lol. And of course, my body just didn't recover the same way. My stomach is alot different now and I hate the way it looks/feels (I even lost more weight than I gained and you couldn't tell because of how my stomach healed).

    This will be a repeat c-sec because my clinic doesn't allow VBAC and because my births will only be 12 months apart.

    You have to do what you feel is best. You could always wait and see how things go too. Take it as it comes and decide what is best during that time. I think what is going to help you is you are doing your research now (which I think everyone should do to be more prepared for things to change). My friend had told me about the c-section experience before I went in just in case I had to have one and I wasn't afraid or upset when it was decided I needed one. I think having that information beforehand really helped. (she had used the same hospital and knew their procedures and all).

    Even though I was shooting for another great vaginal birth, I don't have any regret about my c-section. I knew we were doing what was best for us. Wishing you the best!!



  • I had a c/s with my first and a VBAC with my second.  For me, the vaginal birth was easier (I had an "easy" c/s recovery but the vaginal was just easier than that).  With the vaginal birth I was up, in my own clothes, and ready to go home an hour after the birth.  Yes, I was a bit sore, but that went away quickly. 

    My c/s recovery was longer obviously because it was major abdominal surgery.  There were restrictions, and I didn't like the feeling of having things done "to" me rather than being a part of it.  Also, I had a delayed allergic reaction to one of the medications they gave to me and they couldn't determine which one it was without causing the reaction again.  I didn't take pain meds for my c/s after I left the hospital, but I didn't need pain meds at all for the VBAC.  And I was able to care for both babies easily.

    Good luck with your decision!

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  • I had a very easy c/s recovery, but I still preferred my vaginal birth.  I liked feeling like I was actively pushing my baby out instead of lying on a table being cut open.  I didn't need anything more than ibuprofen after my vaginal delivery, while I needed Percocet just to be able to function the first 5 days after my cesarean.  OTOH, I walked like I had been kicked in the crotch by an elephant for around 2 weeks after my vaginal delivery LOL.

    I agree with mlf that you should think about how many kids you would like to have.  If you are thinking of 3 or 4, you should consider that the more cesareans you have, the more risk there is.  Each time you have a c/s, your next pregnancy is at increased risk for serious placenta issues (placenta previa and placenta accreta) that can be life threatening to the mother and baby, and the more cesareans you have, the higher the risk is.  C/s also carries an increased risk of maternal death over vaginal delivery.  Of course you have to weigh those risks with your personal situation and medical history.  Since they are small risks, they might be worth it for your situation.  Does your doctor have a recommendation either way?

    Good luck with your choice.


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  • I had to have a c-section after 12 hours of labor and 3 hours of pushing, and the fact that we couldn't even get her out with forceps (her head was positioned so it was stuck). I will tell you - I was in SOOOO much pain with my "attempted" vaginal - and I was heavily medicated to prevent any and all pain. Since my epidural didn't work for the c-section, I had to be put to sleep.

    It was a little strange since I didn't even see her birth - but I was awake and able to see her a little over an hour after I had her. DH had her in his arms in our room ready to have quality family time. I found it somewhat hard in the beginning because it was like she was a stranger. BUT I think that was due to the fact that I was asleep. If I'd at least been conscious for the c-section, it may have been very different.

    Recovery has been hard. It's been almost 2 weeks, but each day is better. I could lift my LO without help by the 3rd day, and even her car seat by about a week or so after. In the end - you should do what's safer for you and baby. 

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  • I've only ever had a c/s due to the fact that DS was breech. My recovery was nothing short of agonizing. Even on the pain meds I was in excruciating pain. I know this is not the case for all but it definitely was for me. Because of all of the medicines I was on I barely remember the first week of my son's life. It's kinda like a hazy dream in terms of what I remember. I had to have full time help around the house for 2 weeks and still struggled after that to handle it on my own. Holding my DS was painful and I struggled to BF but the narcotics I was put on in the hospital are contraindicated for BF so my LO was too sedated to latch properly.

    I wish with every fiber in my being I could go back and change the type of birth that I had. Having the c/s took a huge toll on me emotionally. I was for a large time depressed about my son's birth. While I find joy in his birthday it is hard for me to find any joy in his birth. I never even got a chance to labor since my OB broke my water without checking my son's position. His first word after he broke my water was "oops." It took me almost a year to get over the negative feelings I have towards having to have my c/s and, as you can tell, I am still quite emotional about it. I will be VBACing for my next LO even though I am having to drive 1hr15 minutes to get to the doctor. The area that I live in has a population of about 540,000 people and yet there is no doctor here who is recommended for VBACs. It doesn't help that the state that I live in has the highest c/s rate of any other state in the country. Anyway, sorry for the rant...there's my two cents.

    DS1: 8/3/10, DD1: 8/17/13, DD2: 8/13/15
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  • My 1st was an induced vaginal birth and 2nd was an urgent c-section.   If we have a 3rd I will attempt a VBAC if the dr will let me, if not, we may not try for a 3rd if I know I have to have a c-section. 

    My recovery from my c-section was horrible.   DS was 6-1/2 weeks early and I only got to see him once in the surgery room then I didn't get to see him again until 24 hours later because they wouldn't let me get up and go to the NICU until then.  

    I read other say that getting up and moving helps you recover easier...I got up and moved as soon as they let me and moved as much as I could without pushing it and it was still awful.   A week after birth I found out I had developed an infection, it took almost 8 weeks for my incision to completely close up and heal.  

    It was definitely a horrible experience for me and I really don't want to go through that again.   

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