“Elective” C-section? Hmm, I didn’t know that one could bear children that way by choice. We really do learn something new everyday. In any case, to answer the OP’s concerns, I had three natural childbirths . . . Each were similar in some ways, different in others.
1) The first one was the most intense because I didn’t really know if my timing was right. While waiting to be examined at the hospital, my husband asked me what if they discovered I “wasn’t really in labor, and sent me back home?” I replied they would have to drag me out the door, as I was in too much discomfort to go anywhere. I had the worst backache I ever had in my life and pleaded with him to massage my lower back non-stop. He finally told me there would be no skin left on my back if he continued any longer. When I was finally examined, I was dilated 8 centimeters (birth happens at 10). I gave birth to my first daughter shortly after.
2) I had a great team of women doctors with child #2, another daughter. I was hoping my own doctor would be out fishing that day, as he had begun to annoy me towards the end of my pregnancy (another story in itself). As my child was emerging, my doctor did show up and told one of the other doctors that he would do an episiotomy right about now. While the two were arguing, I tore (minor). The 2nd woman doctor who was an intern (this was her first delivery) told me I just had a natural episiotomy. I didn’t feel it. But while my baby was emerging, I could feel my breasts begin to lactate. This had not occurred with the first or third child, so was unique in that regard.
3) This time, a boy. As with both daughters, I was lucky not to experience any morning sickness. However, just prior to birth, he was facing the wrong direction (not breach). This time, my doctor was the son of a Jamaican mid-wife. He had accompanied his mother during his youth, so had witnessed many childbirths long before becoming a doctor. Instead of experiencing an emergency, the doctor was able to put his hand into my vagina and rotate my son. He also removed a few cysts he found on my cervix. Again, I felt nothing. And again, all was done without anesthesia.
For one who has not yet experienced childbirth, it can be very frightening. So something I want to emphasize is that the “pain” (I’d prefer to call it extreme pressure) occurs only during the uterine contractions which expel the baby JUST BEFORE IT’S BORN. The stretching of the vagina is not what causes the discomfort, which may seem counter-intuitive. The vagina is designed to stretch a LOT, so don’t let concerns about that be a deterrent.
Yes, one can experience unexpected complications on occasion. But there is a medical staff, expert in just about everything that can possibly go wrong, standing by. About the only long-term adverse side affect I experienced was weight gain. But I was underweight in all instances to begin with, so even that didn’t occur until much later.