The Stigma Of C-Sections


My sister-in-law just had a baby and she had four hours of labor, pushed for one hour (with seven minutes between contractions so she could rest) while talking to her doctor and holding her husband’s hand, and her beautiful baby boy slid out like a tiny miracle.

Everything was perfect.

I’ve had two C-sections.

Until the other day, I didn’t think I was missing out on anything. But to hear her talk about what an amazing experience it was, left me wondering if I’d gotten the short end of the child birth stick.

“It was the most natural experience of my entire life,” my sister-in-law gushed when I entered her hospital room. She was flying high, by the way, and her mood wasn’t due to morphine like mine was when I was wheeled out of recovery trailing my catheter tubes behind me.

“It’s like, now I understand what our bodies are made for. It all makes perfect sense,” she said tearing up at the realization.

It’s not like I don’t know what our bodies are meant for. Because I do. I know what a vagina is for. I just didn’t use mine for that. And it’s not that I never wanted to. I didn’t request a C-section because I was planning a fabulous vacation and needed to know my schedule. Although if you read the news these days, they’d have you believe that despite the risks involved in major surgery, women are lining up around the block for their C’s, poo poo’ing vaginal deliveries like they’re last season’s hemline.

According to MSNBC, the US’s C-section rates are among the highest in the world and only increasing. A lot of these C-sections are repeat C’s. The problem apparently is that these darn doctors are saying “once a C always a C” when some insists women should at least try to attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section).

Well, as one of the women this article is referring to – a repeat C offender – I feel at once ripped off and defensive.

When I got knocked up with my first baby, I already knew I’d be having a C-section. I’d been treated for a large uterine fibroid multiple times and my top notch female surgeon told me absolutely no vaginal birth. “Are you certain?” I’d asked, not because I was so upset at the thought, but because I figured I should know the reasons. “I shouldn’t even try?”

“No. You have scars on your uterus and if you went into hard labor, your uterus could rupture. Even though there’s only a small chance of that happening, if it happened you could lose the baby and you could also die. You don’t want to take that risk.”

“So you’re saying I should definitely give it a try then. Ha ha.”

Obviously I didn’t want to take that risk so I put it out of my mind, never second-guessing it until I was pregnant with my first child and other women asked me about my birth plan.

“I have to have a C-section,” I’d tell them.

“Really? Don’t you want to try for a vaginal birth?”

Yes, women really say sh*t like this to other women. I wouldn’t make it up. Since other things they said included: “You ARE going to breast-feed aren’t you?” And, “you ready to lose the rest of the baby weight?”, I wasn’t surprised it was brought up but I did ask my doctor about it.

“Why would you want to do that?” he asked. “There’s no reason I can possibly think of to risk it when it could have terrible consequences if something goes wrong.”

He was right of course. And I had my C-section and it was fine. And then I got pregnant with twins and all was not right with my pregnancy and not having a vaginal birth was the very least of my problems. But you can be sure that someone did tell me that it was absolutely possible to deliver preemie twins vaginally because they themselves did it and everything worked out fine. They didn’t have a medical license to dole out advice, but I guess they just thought they’d put it out there to be helpful.

Obviously my twins were born by Cesarean Section. My second.

So, yes, when I saw my sister-in-law and she told me how magical her birth experience was, I did feel a little jealous. And when I read those statistics on the news that seem to only serve in giving women another thing to judge themselves and each other for, I feel a little crappy.

But I have three beautiful, healthy girls and only the tiniest of scars on my belly to mark my decision. I love that scar. It’s my battle wound and it shows me what my body is for.

And that, is the only thing that counts.




Leave a Reply