Could it possibly be one of the many factors influencing bonding? Sure, so can a million other things. What about a mom who births at home in a very natural setting but suddenly comes down with a bad case of the flu right after or during the birth, that would probably influence the bonding process too, right?
I was induced with Cytotec,had an epidural, given stadol (I think some kind of pain killer that made me loopy), had a c-section, did not even get to touch my baby for hours after the birth, did not get to breastfeed for over 24 hours.
I also had not prior done any research on natural birth, parenting, I didn't even know what attachment parenting was. In fact I read someones UC birth story a few days before my daughter was born and I was mystified that someone would *choose* to not go to a hospital to give birth.
I felt bonded with my child the minute she was born, before she was born I felt bonded with her. I am a great mother I love her fiercely.My birth experience and my lack of prior knowledge in no way made me a less "loving" or "natural" parent. She breastfed for 3 1/2 years and self weaned. She co slept and still comes into our bed every night.
Do I think my birth experience made all this *physically* harder? Yes it did no doubt about that. Have I had some emotional difficulty with the c-section? Sure, I had some issues to work through about it. Did it make it harder to love my child? Harder to be a mother? No way.
Natural childbirth does not give you good mom or love your baby points that no one else can ever get. The reasons that people make the parenting choices that they do exist independently of birth.
That study you linked is a little deceptive. Sure 17% of the mothers in the c-section group had a self esteem loss. Why? Because of the epidural? Or because so many people believe that if you have had a c-section you have not given birth, or that you will be a lesser mother, or not have as good of a bond with your baby. The people who go into birth with those beliefs and end up with a c-section anyway have it the worst because they come out of the experience feeling like failures, and that they have lost something they can never ever regain. Having that reaffirmed by the beliefs of others does nothing to help their self esteem.
Birth is one day, not even a day, a moment. Guess what? Even babies who come out through surgical incisions are born. The mothers who gestated them are the ones birthing them. They may not be pushing the baby out but their body is being ravaged in order to give life to their child. Taking that away from them by minimizing c-section birth is so unfair.
Moms with "unnatural births" should not get lumped into "at risk to be a bad mother" by default. We should not have to prove that we have pulled away from the "norm" and are good mothers, we should get the same courtesy extended to any other mother and have it be *assumed* that we will be good mothers.