The Cesarean Stigma

Written by a contributing writer who is an amazing mother, wife, and friend…

Did you know that 1/3 of births in the US are cesarean? That means that odds are you know several women who have had one before.  There are many theories as to why c-section births are so common.  Some blame lazy doctors who don’t want to miss a tee time or want to get home by dinner.  Others believe it is because we now have the ability to identify high risk pregnancies/births and performing a c-section to protect the mother and child from further complications. No matter the reason, MANY women have had one and yet there still seems to be a stigma.

The common phrase I hear is that having a c-section is the “easy way out”.  Coming from experience, IT IS NOT! Having your abdomen cut open is not easy to recover from.  Add to the fact that after any major surgery you are urged to rest – when you have a newborn it is impossible to rest.  Be it actual sleep or the ability to just sit, relax, and do nothing, neither really takes place when there is a newborn in the house unless you hire someone to take care of your child for you. Most families do not have that ability.

I have had 2 cesareans and my first was the most painful thing I have ever gone through.  While my second was a faster recovery, that pain I felt was intense and very real.  Looking past the physical pain there is a side to c-sections that I feel is almost never addressed.  If you speak to a woman who has had a cesarean there is usually a reason why – my first was an emergency.  I was rushed into the OR with my son’s heartbeat dropped dangerously low.  When the doctors pulled him out of me I waited what felt like a million agonizing years (in reality, it was only a few seconds) to hear that first cry.  It took me almost 2 years to emotionally recover from his birth day.  I belong to an ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) group on Facebook and it is littered with fellow mothers who share their stories and openly admit fear, stress and PTSD from their child’s birth.  Many c-sections are traumatic, and it is rarely discussed!  On top of our own feelings from the actual birth we then go through additional humiliation with being told that what we went through was “easy” and we should be lucky that we didn’t have to suffer real childbirth.  I cannot speak for others, but I would give anything to have given birth the traditional way – recovery from a c-section is nothing to scoff at and there are very real feelings of inadequacy. 

I have always been someone who will give my all to overcome a challenge.  During my first pregnancy it was obvious that I had pre-eclampsia and although I was induced and tried to give birth the traditional route my son did not react well and there was my first emergency c-section.  My second pregnancy was pretty much textbook.  I had no issues the whole time.  I was completely prepared for a VBAC until I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia once again.  Once it was discovered I was already in the severe category, so I was sent straight to the hospital and just a few hours later I met my daughter. Even though their birth stories are very different it doesn’t change how I feel when I think about their births.  I feel fear, anxiety, heart ache and sadness, and the worst – failure.  As each day passes I feel these emotions less and less and focus more on where my children are now.  Those moments of sitting in labor and delivery not knowing what will happen next become more distant but they will always be with me.

I have had friends who have given birth with and without drugs, with their water breaking on it’s own or by being induced, by laboring and stalling and being rushed into emergency c-sections or by scheduled c-section.  There is one thing that rings true across the board – THERE IS NO EASY WAY TO BRING A CHILD INTO THIS WORLD.  So please, be kind to those c-section mommas.  We carry more weight than just a child with us every day.

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4 Comments

  1. LOVED this read! I had a natural (no drugs or anything) with my first but my second was such a nightmare. I had gestational diabetes the whole time so I knew a cesarean was going to be a possibility. I tried soo hard to go natural but after 13 hours they lost his heart beat and rushing me to the OR for that c-section was a must! I wish more people would realize it’s okay to have a c-section, you still gave birth & the healing still sucks lol!

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