Which Is More Painful: Natural Birth Or Cesarean Section?

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Which of the delivery methods do you feel will be a better option?

Babies always arrive into the world either one of two ways: by C-section or natural birth. Though there will be choices the couple have to make throughout the pregnancy period, but the delivery method certainly isn't one of them. That prerogative remains with the doctor who knows what is best for the expectant mother. Hence, many couples want to know which is more painful between natural birth and C-section. 

Only one thing influences the doctor's decision during this time, which is the woman's well-being. In turn, the woman's well-being informs the doctor's decision on whether to let the woman deliver naturally or perform a C-section. However, there are exceptions when the woman knows she's delivering by C-section beforehand. This may arise due to complications. 

There are situations that can force the doctor to switch from natural birth to a C-section during delivery. The doctor might perform a C-section if the baby is large and the mother's pelvis is small, or if labour is happening too slow. Other complications that may warrant a C-section are when the baby is getting too little oxygen. 


What is natural birth and what is a C-section? 

What is natural birth and what is a C-section?

  • C-section is to help women whose delivery has become complicated. It involves making incisions in the woman's abdominal wall to bring out the baby. C-section comes with its own risks. 
  • The muscles of the uterus contract during natural birth. The muscles push the baby down the birth canal, head first. The process starts between the pelvic bone and the tail bone at the top of the cervix. Your cervix dilates during labour, stretching itself so that it can accommodate the head of the baby. 


Which is more painful between natural birth and C-section? 

Which is more painful between natural birth and C-section? 

Pregnancy has a lot to do with physiology. For women, pregnancy is associated with pain, fear, anxiety. Pain affects an individual’s abilities. It also leads to fear and anxiety. Attitudes towards labour pain are associated with physical, psychological, environmental, and supporting factors, which greatly affect the decision about mode of delivery.

Does C-section hurt? Not exactly, says Victoria Handa, a professor of gynaecology and obstetrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “It is technically major surgery, so of course a woman receives anaesthesia. “It’s typically an epidural, so she’s numb but awake.”

Handa says adds that while the epidural should keep you from feeling pain, that doesn’t mean you won’t feel anything at all. “It varies quite a bit, but women can feel pressure or other sensations during the procedure. 

Clark Johnson, a Johns Hopkins maternal-fetal specialist, weighed in on whether natural birth does hurt. Clark says, “Physiologically, a bowling ball is coming through the perineum.” What the statement means in plainer terms is that there is pain, even though an epidural dulls it. 

The maternal-fetal specialist explains that the direction the baby is facing in the birth canal plays a role in the amount of pain. Normally the baby should be facing down. But if the baby is facing up, it can cause back labour or intense pain in the lower back. This can also translate to more pushing harder and even longer. 


Which method of delivery should you choose? 

Which method of delivery should you choose? 

The choice of delivery is influenced by individual views. These views are formed from experiences and different information sources, whose accuracy and varies. Consequently, for some women, C-section is seen as a way to escape the pains of labour. In fact, these women voluntarily choose C-section as their preferred method of childbirth. 

Likewise, several studies have described a variety of factors for the selection of vaginal delivery.

According to a study of Black in 2005, the factors pushing women towards natural delivery include faster recovery time, fear of anaesthesia, positive experiences in the past, lack of anxiety about the baby's well-being. 

According to Dr. Allison Bryant, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, in general, women say that giving birth vaginally feels like more of a natural experience. Women may feel as if they are giving birth the way nature intended them to, she added.


Even with C-section being significally less painful than a natural delivery, it is still not very clear which delivery method women prefer. Besides, in the end this decision may lie with the doctor. 

Read also: C-Section Birth Images That Help Normalise Birth

Written by

Lydia Ume