Vaginal birth has its own benefits. Brave, pretty mothers, we greet you. You are just as courageous and inspiring. whether you welcomed your baby into the world at home in your bathroom or waited nervously for your precious bundle to be lifted over the surgical drape after a C-section.

But what’s so great about all that huffing and puffing and grunting and pushing, anyway? Here are 5 benefits of a vaginal birth for you and your baby.

1. Your baby will receive beneficial bacteria

As your baby passes through your birth channel, bacteria are ingested that contribute to the health of your gut and boost your immune system. Even though the microbiol of a baby–or microbial collection–begins to form in the womb, vaginal delivery is an essential part of the process.

Some studies have found that babies born by C-section who miss out on these crucial bacteria are more susceptible to health problems such as food allergies, asthma, hay fever and obesity later in life.

2. You’ll squeeze fluid out of your baby’s lungs

While your baby is in the womb, fluid fills her lungs. Hormonal changes occurring during labor begin to clear the fluid and much of the rest is squeezed out as your baby passes through your birth channel. After birth, any remaining fluid will be coughed out or absorbed by the body of your baby. If fluid remains in the lungs or is cleaned out too slowly–a condition known as the newborn transient tachypnea (TTN)–breathing problems may arise and oxygen may be needed. Babies born through C-section are at higher TTN risk.

3. Your hospital stay will be shorter and your recovery time will be faster

After an uncomplicated vaginal delivery and two to four days after a cesarean, you should expect to stay in the hospital for 24 to 48 hours. While you should avoid any strenuous activity after a vaginal birth for six weeks to allow your body to heal, within a few days you should be able to perform your regular daily tasks. Because a C-section is a major abdominal surgery, it is longer and harder to recover. You should rest as much as you can and avoid the first six weeks of any heavy lifting or driving a car. It may take six to ten weeks to completely heal your scar.

4. You’ll avoid the risks of major surgery

All major operations carry risks, including a bad anesthesia reaction, infection, hemorrhaging, and clots of blood. Additional risks with a cesarean are also present, such as uterine inflammation, bowel or bladder surgical injury, and amniotic fluid embolism (when amniotic fluid enters the bloodstream of the mother and can cause a serious reaction).

5. You’ll be more likely to engage in early breastfeeding

Early breastfeeding (within the first hour after birth) increases the likelihood of a baby being breastfed exclusively from one to four months as well as the overall duration of breastfeeding, according to the WHO’s review of current research. The WHO recommends that breastfeeding be started as soon as possible after birth because of the well-documented benefits of colostrum (“first milk”) and breastfeeding in general.

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