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Vaginal Birth Vs. C-Section: The Crucial Differences During Recovery Between The Two
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  • Giving birth is an extraordinary ordeal, where you welcome your baby via vaginal birth or Cesarean section. Still, no woman will prefer abdominal surgery. Even doctors prefer normal delivery over C-section unless it poses a risk to the baby's and mother's life. 

    Vaginal birth recovery vs. C-section recovery

    Vaginal delivery is much cheaper than a C-section, which is considered a major operation. Also, having a C-section is quicker than laboring for hours. It might also take a while for you to do skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding. You need to get stitched up first.

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    However, the real difference between the two boils down to the process of recovery.

    Extended hospital stay

    Moms who had a vaginal birth are sent home as early as the day after the delivery. Since C-section is a major operation, they need to stay longer to ensure no complications arise. A typical stay in the hospital for CS deliveries is three to four days. You need to be able to pass gas before you can eat solid foods. You also need to sit up and walk before you're discharged. (Read more about hospital stay after childbirth here.)

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    Postpartum pain

    Labor is painful, and it can take hours of it before you give birth. If you give birth via CS, you will not feel pain during the procedure. But after the anesthesia has worn off, you might feel a painful throbbing in your incision area. Your doctor can prescribe pain medication for you as needed. Moms estimate the pain can last for a week or two.

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    Postpartum bleeding

    It's not true that CS moms don't experience lochia. They do. Moms who give birth vaginally may experience more postpartum vaginal discharge than those of CS moms. Even if you're scheduled for CS, don't forget to pack maternity diapers or pads. 

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    Incision wound care

    CS moms have an incision wound to take care of, just as some vaginal birth moms have either an episiotomy(this is not routine!) or natural vaginal tear. Those moms who have none, just because you have no incision wound doesn't mean you shouldn't take it easy. 

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    The stitches down there don't need as much care as the incision wound on the belly. For your CS wound, you need to disinfect and change the wound dressing every day. Make sure it doesn't get wet when you take a bath, so it doesn't get infected. (Read more about caring for your CS wound here.)

    Ease of movement

    Because moms who gave birth via C-section have a wound on their bellies, moving around can be challenging. The sooner you do so, but without forcing it, it may be better. Still, getting up, sitting down (think going to the toilet to pee) can be a chore. Even coughing and laughing may cause pain in your tummy.

    Many doctors require CS moms to wear an abdominal binder to help keep your sutures "secure." The fear that the wound will open up is real. An abdominal binder also helps limit moms' movement, so she doesn't overexert herself. Moms who gave birth vaginally may wear an abdominal binder if they want to.

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    Wait longer before exercising

    Typically, women who have just given birth are allowed to exercise by their doctors six weeks after giving birth. But some women who gave birth vaginally may be given the okay to start light exercises earlier than that. For C-section moms, you may wait a little longer than that before you can start working out. Always check with your doctor first. 

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    Mom brain

    Moms who give birth via C-section need anesthesia. In contrast, moms who give birth vaginally may choose to not receive any. It varies from one mom to another, but moms' swear pain medication affects their alertness and memory. Give yourself some brain exercise to sharpen your mind. 

    Aches and pains

    Women's bodies change after going through pregnancy and childbirth. Moms who delivered vaginally may complain of painful sex. Some moms who gave birth via CS complain that their back hurts because of the C-section spinal anesthesia or their wound itches or throb years after. The key is to really take it one step at a time.

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    Just keep in mind that it doesn't matter how you welcome your baby into this world. You are a pillar of strength only by going through vaginal birth or C-section. So, don't hesitate to ask for help during your postpartum recovery. You earned it, mama!

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