What’s the Difference Between a Vaginal Delivery and a Planned C-Section?

What’s the Difference Between a Vaginal Delivery and a Planned C-Section?

Are you trying to decide between a vaginal delivery and a planned c-section? See what our community has to say about the different experiences.

If you’re pregnant with twins you might be wondering if you will need to have a c-section. And you might be relieved to find out that that is not necessarily the case. You may also find that your doctor is flat out letting you call the shots.

So what should you do?

Well, first of all, you should plan but be flexible. You may decide to go ahead with a planned c-section and schedule it out and then go into labor a week early and need to move up your timeline. Or you may plan for a vaginal delivery and wind up needing a c-section for a number of reasons.

What you should know about a planned c-section

Pros

  1. There is little to no pain during the birth
  2. You can opt for a gentle c-section in many cases which some say helps them feel more connected during birth
  3. You can be reasonably sure your own doctor will be available for the birth
  4. The birth takes less time than a vaginal delivery

Cons

  1. You are having major surgery
  2. You cannot drive for 6 weeks following surgery
  3. Strong pain medicine may be necessary at home for at least a few days
  4. Your hospital stay may be as little as 2 days or as many as 5 days, depending
  5. You will go to a surgical recovery room to be monitored for at least an hour before being moved to the floor
  6. Some woman have trouble navigating stairs early on
  7. The nurses will help you get out of bed the day of surgery
  8. The more you walk the easier the recovery
  9. Hold a pillow on your abdomen when coughing or sneezing for at least a few days
  10. A nurse will come post-surgery and press on your uterus. It HURTS!
  11. There is no risk of tearing

What you need to know about a vaginal delivery

Pros

  1. Babies will get microbiome from the mother’s birth canal.
  2. Often have shorter hospital stays
  3. Mom is physically able to do everyday tasks like driving soon after birth.
  4. You probably will have less need for strong pain relief after birth
  5. You will recover more quickly from labor and birth
  6. You have a better chance of starting to breastfeed their babies straight away
  7. Complications in future pregnancies are less likely
  8. You are less likely to need to go back to the hospital in the weeks after birth
  9. You are probably more physically able to care for their babies (and other children) soon after birth

Cons

  1. Might have perineal tearing
  2. Feel labor pains
  3. Could take a long time
  4. Could end up in a c-section anyway (or 1 baby vaginal, 1 baby c-section)

We asked our Twiniversity community to detail their vaginal and planned c-section deliveries to help you prepare.

What’s the Difference Between a Vaginal Delivery and a Planned C-Section?

Some say they would choose vaginal if they could go back

“My first pregnancy was a singleton, and I was induced at 39 weeks. Labor was 16 hours and the epidural started to fade, but the recovery was pretty smooth. My twins were born this January via c-section at almost 37 weeks. They were running out of room. During the c-section, I could feel the knife and was given more pain medicine. I ended up passing out, losing 2 liters of blood, and don’t remember seeing or hearing them cry for the first time. I was weak and didn’t feel well during my hospital stay.

A month later, I was diagnosed with a large abdominal abscess at my incision site after fevers and chills hit me. I had to have a drain inserted for two weeks. I feel the strong pain and tenderness again and am having to be seen by a specialist because the abscess is back. The pain is debilitating, and I feel like I’m missing out. I would have given anything to go back and just have the twins vaginally like my first. It didn’t seem like that was an option for me, though.” Shana G.

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Others would choose a planned c-section again

“My first pregnancy was a singleton and I was induced at 41 weeks and didn’t have her until the following morning. It was so rough and I lost a good amount of blood during my delivery. I tore and hemorrhaged. I didn’t feel like myself until almost a year postpartum. My twins were a planned C-section at 37 weeks. My husband would describe it as spine-chilling because you know the exact day you will become a parent. But my c-section went great. I felt more myself the day I came home from the hospital. If I had the chance to have my first pregnancy all over again, I would do a c-section in a heartbeat. It was so relaxing and it felt nice to not lay in pain waiting for them to come.” Heather L.

“My first pregnancy was a singleton vaginal delivery. I was in labor for 12 hours but I didn’t know it. I went to the doctors that morning thinking I was in labor. When the OB checked me, I was 9 centimeters dilated. I delivered a healthy 5lb girl but also suffered 3rd degree tearing. My recovery was awful and painful. My twins were a scheduled c-section. However, I delivered boy/girl twins via c section at 37 weeks, I didn’t go into labor nor did my water break. My recovery was amazing, I didn’t need pain medication, I was able to walk around and sit. C section was so much easier and flawless. I received a binder from the hospital and was discharged without problems. I loved the c section, and would choose it over a vaginal delivery any day.” Beth S.

What’s the Difference Between a Vaginal Delivery and a Planned C-Section?

Medical needs might complicate your delivery

“My twins were my first two children. Due to my severe Crohn’s disease, my GI and my MFM teams felt a C-section was in my best interest to reduce complications at 38 weeks, 1 day. Because of potential scar tissue from previous abdominal surgeries, I had a spinal tap and an epidural. The surgery went smoothly. The boys were healthy at 6.0 lbs and 5 lbs 10 oz. Despite all things seemingly going well, I had an ileus (my intestines did not wake back up from the spinal/epidural combo). I spent the next several days in the ICU. The boys went home 3 days before me.

When I was ready to give birth to a singleton, I insisted on doing a VBAC to avoid the same complications. I had to advocate for myself to get a VBAC. I was in false labor for 3 days before my water broke. When I went to the hospital and was only 1/2 centimeter dilated. So, we started Pitocin. I had an epidural and 12 hours later I pushed for 50 minutes to welcome a healthy baby girl on her due date (7lbs 7 oz). I had 2 minor tears and the placenta had to be manually extracted. My pelvic bone separated during birth which made getting up and down difficult. The pain was similar to surgical pain but the recovery was so much easier. It took a month to recover from the c section but only about a week until my pelvis was feeling better.” Alex B.

a couple looking at a baby in a nursery bassinet

Many moms agree that both have pros and cons

“My first pregnancy was a singleton vaginal delivery. I was in labor for 14 hours. My epidural wore off, so I felt everything the last few hours. He was sunny side up. I had to have an episiotomy and I tore. But, recovery was easy. My second was with mo/di twins and a scheduled c section because baby B was heavier than A. The delivery was wonderful. I came in, got prepped, had surgery, and was holding my babies within the hour. It was bliss until the next morning. I was in terrible pain, worse than the pushing with the first. The on-call ob-gyn told me I needed to walk the halls by the end of the day. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom! Turns out, I was hemorrhaging internally and needed a pint of blood. So long story short, both are kind of sucky.” Kyna G.

What’s the Difference Between a Vaginal Delivery and a Planned C-Section?
A planned c-section might be best

Healthy mom and babies are most important whether delivery is vaginal vs. planned c-section

“After going through a beautiful-turned-petrifying double whammy twin birth, I wanted nothing more than a c-section when I found out I was pregnant with a singleton. I wanted to go into a birth experience knowing that I wasn’t going to leave the room traumatized. I made the decision (alongside my doctor) on what felt the safest for both me and the baby. My heartstrings definitely still tugged to try for a VBAC, but the farther along I got in the pregnancy, the more strongly I felt about planning a c-section so I could remember every moment!

My planned c-section was beautiful! I asked for a clear drape (which I later learned is called a gentle cesarian section. I highly recommend it!). The doctors were laughing and talking about their Christmas memories. My husband got to announce the gender! It was magical. I had an incredible team watching out for me. I didn’t have to worry about my son’s heart rate dropping. Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about the NICU. I don’t feel ashamed to wear a scar for the rest of my life. I’m proud that two of my babies have come from it. I’m proud of myself for believing that birth is beautiful no matter how it happens!” Quinn S.

At the end of the day, a healthy mom and healthy babies are all that really matters. There are plenty of pros and cons to consider with a vaginal delivery vs a planned c-section. No matter how your babies come into the world, your health and safety is the most important thing. Make sure you trust your doctor and roll with the changes that come with a twin pregnancy and parenting.

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