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Published on December 01, 2009

The Delivery Debate: C-section vs. Vaginal Birth - What's Better for You and Your Baby?

Because there is not enough research to fully compare the risks and benefits of C-section vs. vaginal birth, the March of Dimes recommends basing this decision on the individual needs of the mom and baby. Below are the top five questions and answers for each side of the debate to help make your decision a little easier.         

Vaginal Birth

1.     How long does it take to recover from vaginal delivery?

·       After a vaginal delivery, patients are normally hospitalized for 48 hours. It may take two to four weeks to return to normal activity, but it is recommended that women start slowly and gradually increase the level of activity.

2.     What are some common side effects associated with vaginal delivery?

·       Women usually experience vaginal soreness, discharge, hemorrhoids, sore breasts and difficulty urinating after a vaginal delivery.

3.     What are the different stages of labor?

·       According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three stages of labor when delivering vaginally. Stage one is early labor and active labor. This stage begins when the cervix opens and thins out to allow the baby to move into the birth canal. This is when the contractions start.   The second stage is the delivery of the baby and the third stage is the delivery of the placenta.

4.     How long does vaginal delivery normally take?

·       Every woman handles labor and delivery differently. Because of   this, there is no certain time limit. Some women go through all   three stages of delivery in a couple hours and some can take a couple days.

5.     What are some pain-control options?

·       According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, some women choose to deal with the pain of labor and delivery naturally, using breathing and relaxation techniques. Others can have an epidural or spinal. Women should consult their healthcare provider to find out which way is best for them and   their baby.


1.     How long does it take to recover from a Cesarean section?

·       Because delivery by C-section is a surgical procedure, the recovery time is a bit longer than delivering vaginally. It takes about four to six weeks for a C-section incision to heal, so rest and relaxation are recommended for that time. Healthcare providers also recommend drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding sex and taking medications as needed.

2.     How long does an average C-section take?

·       According to the Mayo Clinic, most C-sections take about 45 minutes to an hour.

3.     What type of pain control is used during a C-section?

·       Regional anesthesia, such as a spinal block or epidural, is most commonly used during C-sections. With this type of anesthesia,   only the lower part of the body is numbed so that mom can stay awake throughout the procedure. However, in an emergency situation, general anesthesia may be used. This would mean that mom can’t hear, see or feel anything during the procedure.

4.     What are some of the risks to the mom and baby when having a C- section?

·       According to the March of Dimes, a baby may be at risk for breathing problems and fetal injury, like nicks to the baby’s skin, when delivered by C-section. Mom is at risk for increased amounts of bleeding, infection, blood clots and reactions to the anesthesia.

5.     Can women have vaginal deliveries in the future after having a C- section?

·       Although vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) isn’t for everyone, it is possible and has been successful in 60 to 80 percent of women who have tried it, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is important for women to discuss this option with their healthcare provider so that the safest decision is made for both mom and baby.

For more information about Crozer-Keystone Health System’s maternity services, or for a referral to a CKHS physician or midwife, call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258) or visit

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