After having written about the dangers of C-sections for both mothers and babies, here’s the other side of the story… It seems that there’s now evidence that vaginal births increase the risk of brain hemorrhage in newborns.
For the study, 88 asymptomatic infants, equally divided between male and female, underwent MRI between the ages of one and five weeks. Sixty-five had been delivered vaginally and 23 had been delivered by cesarean section. MR images showed that 17 (26 percent) of the babies who had been delivered vaginally had intracranial hemorrhages (ICH), or small bleeds in and around the brain. Seven infants had two or more types of ICH. Prior studies have shown a smaller incidence–approximately 10 percent–of intracranial hemorrhage associated with vaginal birth.
Interestingly, the length of labor, the use of vacuum or forceps to assist in the delivery, and the size of the baby’s head had no effect on the likelihood of a hemmorhage. Rather, “The bleeds are probably caused by pressure on the skull during delivery.”
Okay, but who cares? Is it serious?
Most of the bleeds identified were very small subdural hematomas–bleeding between the brain and the thick membrane that covers the brain below the skull–and a majority of them were located in the lower, back part of the brain over the occipital lobe or the cerebellum, which is below the occipital lobe.
Typically, small bleeds resolve over time without causing problems, though larger ones may cause problems later in the child’s life, including seizures, subtle learning problems or problems with motor development.
So… Based on what we know so far, we can conclude that having is baby is downright dangerous no matter how it comes out!