Cesarean Section vs. Vaginal Birth

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All parents want what’s best for their babies, and they all want the birth of their child to be as safe and successful as possible. While every woman has different experiences and expectations during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, the US has seen a shift in the way women are having babies, and it has not happened without some big downsides.

Increasing C-Section Rates

In 1979, the C-section rate in the United States was only 5%. By 1996, it had gone up to 20%. Now, it’s at an all-time high of 31.9%. Despite the ideal rate (according to the World Health Organization) being between 10 and 15% to accommodate high-risk pregnancies and medical emergencies, the C-section rate in our country seems to be continuously rising. Although it being too low may be a problem, it being too high is also a problem. You would think that with the advanced technology and experienced doctors in our country that this high rate would drastically reduce infant and maternal mortality, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

The United States is around the middle of the road when it comes to worldwide C-section rates, yet when compared with other developed countries, we have one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates. The risk of infant and maternal mortality is the lowest with vaginal deliveries, and the second safest method is actually a VBAC, with first C-section and repeat C-sections bringing about the highest mortality rates.

VBACs

Some women may elect to have C-sections while others are told they must due to previous ones, but VBACs (Vaginal Births After Cesarean) are possible and highly effective. In fact, the CDC reports that women who have had one C-section but try for a vaginal delivery on a second pregnancy are successful at delivering vaginally 70% of the time. Even women with two or more prior Cesarean’s are able to deliver vaginally 51% of the time in subsequent pregnancies.

Effects of Cesarean Sections

Many studies have explored the connection of high C-section rates with negative impacts on a child’s health, both short-term and long-term. The primary explanation for this is that babies born vaginally are exposed to vaginal flora, which contributes to their gut bacteria, or microbiome. This gut bacteria is responsible for developing their immune health, but it is also related to digestive health and even mental health later in life. While much research is still ongoing, experts are certain that vaginal deliveries set your baby up with better gut bacteria from the beginning, which contributes to their overall health.

When a baby is delivered via Cesarean section, they miss out on the vaginal flora that contributes to their healthy microbiome. This can impact their immune health later in life, often bringing about issues with allergies, asthma, respiratory infections, bowel problems, and more. Other things can negatively impact a baby’s gut bacteria too, like taking antibiotics late in pregnancy or limiting breastfeeding. While some things can be done to help improve a baby’s gut bacteria, nothing can completely replace all the benefits they receive from going through the birth canal during delivery.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of a vaginal delivery or how chiropractic can help improve your pregnancy, labor, and delivery, schedule a consultation with Dr. Grant Lisetor and his team at Greater Life Chiropractic in Charlotte.

Sources

Curtin, S.C., Gregory, K.D., Korst, L.M., Uddin, S.F.G. “Maternal Morbidity for Vaginal and Cesarean Deliveries, According to Previous Cesarean History: New Data From the Birth Certificate, 2013.” National Vital Statistics Report, 2015 May; 64 (4). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_04.pdf

Mueller, N.T., Bakacs, E., Combellick, J., Grigoryan, Z., Dominguez-Bello, M.G. “The Infant Microbiome Development: Mom Matters.” Trends in Molecular Medicine, 2015 Feb; 21(2): 109–117. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4464665/

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