An Overview of the Benefits of Vaginal Birth
by David R
In recent years, there have been some substantial changes in the healthcare industry. Most people are familiar with the legislative overhaul that occurred with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, along with the benefits and drawbacks this piece of legislation has had. On the research front, there have been numerous new medications released that have had an impact on the way that physicians and their patients treat common yet deadly diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. While many of these changes are for the better, there are some disconcerting changes happening in the healthcare industry. One of the growing problems is that the rate of C-section births has been on the rise. While C-sections do have their benefits, such as being a way to give birth to a health child when a vaginal birth places undue risk on the mother and the baby, they are being performed at an alarming rate. Why has the rate of C-sections been on the rise?
The Growing Rate of C-Sections: Why?
While many people think that C-sections are being performed more often simply because they are necessary, this isn’t entirely accurate. One of the many reasons why the rate of C-sections has been going up has been due to the increase in the rate of diabets and obesity. These conditions lead to larger babies and, sometimes, they will not fit through the vaginal canal. This means that more C-sections are being performed. On the other hand, many C-sections are being performed simply out of defensive medicine. Many physicians are afraid of being the target of a lawsuit and want to make sure that they have tried every resource available. This means more C-sections. Furthermore, many physicians are performing C-sections after a prior C-section even if the baby and mom are perfectly healthy. They are so scared of a uterine rupture and a possible lawsuit that many physicians will not allow a vaginal birth if a C-section has happened in the past. People should understand that there are risks to a C-section as well.
Risks of a C-Section
There are many different risks to a C-section that prospective mothers and their loved ones should know about. First, with any surgical procedure, there is a risk that there could be blood loss. While vaginal births have their risks of bleeding as well, C-section constitutes surgery and any accidental nick in a blood vessel in the abdominal cavity could lead to blood loss that places the life of the mother and the baby at risk. There is also the risk of ureteral damage. The ureters rest near the uterus and transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder. DUe to their proximity to the uterus, they could be damaged during the C-section, causing damage with the urinary process. Furthermore, there is also the risk of damage to the bladder. The bladder sits near the uterus and this could be damaged with the process of any birth by C-section. Even if every precaution is taken with the surgical procedure, there is always the risk of trauma.
Benefits of Vaginal Birth: Respiratory Development
There are many different benefits of vaginal births that mothers and their loved ones should take note of. One of the most common reasons that babies struggle during the first few hours of life is respiratory development. In the womb, babies are connected to mother’s blood supply via their umbilical cord and receive oxygen through the mother’s blood supply. Once they reach the open world, they need to take their first breath. Because they are essentially swimming in liquid during the pregnancy, their lungs are often filled with liquid that needs to be expelled. During the squeezing of the birthing process, this liquid is expelled and this helps babies breathe once born. During the process of a C-section, this squeezing is removed. Babies could develop respiratory distress due to this retained liquid as a result. Vaginal births help to remove this liquid and reduce this risk.
Oxytocin and Breast Milk Production
One of the hormones that helps to trigger the vaginal delivery process is called oxytocin. As the bayby descends through the vaginal canal, they stimulate the side of the vaginal walls, leading to the production of oxytocin. Oxytocin helps to trigger the squeezing process by increasing the force of the uterine contractions. This leads to the descent of the baby through the vaginal canal; however, it also helps to produce breast milk. It makes sense that the same hormone that helps with the birth of a baby would also help to produce breast milk. Once the baby is born, breastfeeding is important for the bonding process between the baby and the mother. If a baby is born by C-section, there isn’t any oxytocin released and this means that the breast milk is often slow to come in. This can delay the start of breastfeeding and delay the important bonding process between mother and baby. Vaginal birth is important for stimulating the production of oxytocin and the production of breast milk. Women should try to have vaginal births when possible so that they can receive this benefit.
Exposure to Positive Bacteria in the Vaginal Canal
When babies descend through the vaginal canal, they are exposed to a handful of positive bacteria that help to populate the baby’s GI tract and help with the development of their own digestive process. Many of the bacteria that babies are exposed to during the birthing process include Lactobacillus, Prevotella, and Sneathia. The vaginal microbiota has numerous benefits for the baby’s GI tract that they should be exposed to when possible. If a baby is born by C-section, there is an increased risk of infection due to contact with pathogenic bacteria. While the sterilization during the surgical procedure helps to minimize this, no sterilization process is perfect and baby’s cannot afford to be exposed to pathogens due to their weak immune system which is still developing. Therefore, when possible, babies should try to be born by vaginal birth. Not only will this help to minimize the risk of being exposed to negative bacteria but it will actually help to populate the baby’s GI tract with the positive bacteria of the vaginal microbiota. Try to maintain the vaginal birthing process to retain this benefit.
Overall, these are only a few of the many risks and benefits of C-sections and vaginal births. The most important facet that prospective mothers should take away is that there are many benefits to the idea of a vaginal birth and mothers shouldn’t just acquiesce to the idea of a C-section because their physician says so. It is important to think about why the C-section is being asked and ensure that it is only used if it is absolutely necessary. Vaginal births are significantly better for the process of breast milk production, respiratory stability, and potential blood loss. Furthermore, a vaginal birth also helps mothers bond with the baby. Make sure to ask the right questions during the delivery and ensure that C-sections are only used in the event of a medical necessity and not just for convenience or defensive medicine. The benefits of vaginal birth should not be overlooked.