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Natural Delivery versus Cesarean delivery

As you approach the birth of your baby, you should have a clear understanding of what both a cesarean delivery and a natural delivery entail. With understanding comes peace and confidence in the best outcome - a happy healthy mom and baby.

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Defining natural delivery and cesarean delivery


The day arrives


A natural delivery most often begins with a slow buildup of contractions as the cervix dilates to around 3 or 4 cm. The contractions become more regular and the intensity increases. Anywhere up to 10 hours later, the mom-to-be moves to her choice of birthing facility. Contrary to the movies, the waters do not always break at this point... And if they do, it may feel more like a slow leak than a gush.


A planned cesarean delivery usually happens to prevent anticipated complications. Your doctor books a date, preferably around 39 weeks pregnant, for surgery. You check into the hospital and settle in your room. Somebody collects you and wheels you to the theatre.


Delivery in action


Your natural delivery progresses to much stronger active labor as your cervix continues opening to around 7cm. Contractions come much closer together and the pain increases over the course of 3 to 6 hours. The final stage before you begin to push is the most intense. Your body struggles as it prepares, your cervix opens towards the final 10cm and the urge to push can overwhelm. You shouldn't though. This stage can be anywhere between 20 minutes and 2 hours. Once your cervix is at 10cm, your doctor or midwife will encourage you to push. All going well, your baby should be delivered within 2 hours.


A cesarean delivery can be very intimidating. Remember, theatre has to be sparse and clean for safety, although it may feel "cold". Your birth team will bring the warmth. You will be given an epidural or spinal block to numb your lower body, but you will be awake during the delivery. There is usually a screen just below your chest. Your partner sits next to the bed by your head to keep you company or updated on what is happening, depending on your needs.


Your surgeon will make a horizontal incision around an inch above your pubic bone, around your usual hairline. They will gently move muscles and your bladder to provide access to your uterus. The surgeon then makes a small cut at the bottom of your uterus and uses a pair of scissors to make the opening big enough to birth your baby. There is no pain, though you can feel some movement as they suction the amniotic fluid and apply gentle pressure to the uterus. In under 10 minutes, the doctor pulls your baby out and into the world, and holds them up for you to see.


Baby is here


In both natural delivery and cesarean delivery, your doctor will clamp and cut the umbilical cord, with your partner if that is agreed upon. If all appears well and baby lets out a healthy wail, they will be placed on your chest. No matter how baby arrives, this moment is magic.


The pediatrician may take baby to a separate space in the room to do some basic checks and perform an APGAR test. Your partner can go along. If there are no issues, baby will likely be returned to you for some skin to skin.


You aren't quite done yet.


In natural delivery, your body will begin contractions again shortly after birth and you will push once more to deliver the placenta. After hours, sometimes days, you are a mommy! Most healing is fast and you will be up and about shortly, ready to rock and bounce your new baby.


In cesarean delivery, you will be given something in your drip to encourage your placenta to release from the uterus. The ensuing contractions help slow any bleeding. While you get to know your baby, your surgeon will remove the placenta, before stitching your uterus and your abdomen. The whole process is over in minutes. You are a mommy! Recovery can take up to 6 weeks and can be overwhelming with a newborn. Every day is a little easier and before you know it, you will be dancing your baby to sleep.

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