It’s a cesarean birth, not a C-section – How to overcome the stigma of having a cesarean birth

Cesarean birth versus C-Section

This blog post was written and provided by a Studio Freyja client. She graciously offered to share her experience and thoughts on having a cesarean birth versus a vaginal birth.

It was 3 years ago that the idea of becoming a mom became more of a reality than a dream. My husband and I got a little tipsy at dinner one night and decided we would make beautiful babies. Of course I had dreamed of being a mom even before that night, but it never fully felt real until both my partner and I said out loud that we were truly ready. Hearing the words, “let’s make our baby,” will stick with me forever.  

Flash forward two years after a lot of trying, we were finally pregnant. You can imagine yourself pregnant all you want, but when it actually happens it’s a whole different ball game. I spent hours googling new symptoms and asking friends — what the hell is this? Why is this happening? And IS THIS NORMAL? Those first few months were a blur of vomit, açaí bowls, tears, and most of all excitement.

I didn’t want a C-section

I was READY to be a mom, but I purposely didn’t think of HOW I’d physically become a mom until month 7. After a routine ultrasound my doctor walked into the room with a smirk on her face and said, “you know how I’ve been telling you that this baby is big? Well, I think it’s actually really big. Big enough to warrant a C-section.” 

A C-section. I wasn’t going to have a C-section. Why would I need a C-section? I was going to push this baby out of me like everyone else and hold her and nurse her and cuddle her for that first golden hour. Not even my partner would get a turn because I had endured all the hardships, I had experienced all the pain, so I got to choose how this little nugget would come out of me and how we’d spend our first moments together. Like many first time moms, that’s just what I expected to happen. It’s what we’re told is the natural way to giving birth. And then a C-section was thrown into the mix. 

Changing your birth plan to include a cesarean

A C-section. A big baby. Macrosomia. Risks. Tearing. Hemorrhage. Shoulder dystocia. All these “what ifs” floated around in my mind for the remaining two months of my pregnancy. It’s unreal what happens to women physically during pregnancy, but the mental load was far worse for me. My anxiety peaked in my final trimester and I constantly thought I might harm my baby if I “selfishly” go through with a vaginal delivery. Would it be worth the risk? Why was this so important to me? 

After talking things over with my incredibly reasonable (and handsome) husband, he encouraged me to write out a pro/con list. And yes, I actually did this. One phrase that stuck out to me on my con list was “it’s tradition.” For so long I heard how my mother pushed her babies out. How my older neighbor, Norma, thought c-sections were unnatural and “women have been doing it this way for centuries.” And when my mother-in-law told me that’s just not how babies are born; I listened to all the noise, all of it. I wanted to incorporate tradition into my birth story and be that bad ass mom who catches their baby on it’s way out. That’s what real women do. But what I failed to realize before my daughter’s birth was that I could make my experience unique for me in my own way. F tradition.



It’s a Cesarean Birth

If you’re struggling with the word C-section like I did, I urge you to find your why. Why is it so important to you? What aspects of a vaginal delivery can you still incorporate into your cesarean delivery? After doing my research and choosing the delivery method safest for my baby, I asked my doctor to perform a “gentle cesarean” where the baby was placed on me as soon as she came out. We couldn’t breastfeed right away, but having her come to me first was EVERYTHING. I also asked that my husband be the one to announce my baby’s gender (yes, we didn’t find out until d-day!). He whispered, “it’s a girl honey. We have a beautiful baby girl!” He also got to experience the golden hour via skin-to-skin with my baby while I was being stitched up and cry-laughing with my doctor about how right she was. My big baby weighed in at 9.3 pounds!

I also think it’s important to realize that a c-section is also a birth experience. It’s a cesarean birth and just as hard, impressive and amazing as a vaginal birth. There’s nothing easy about experiencing a cesarean birth. When I changed my thought process from it being a c-section to a cesarean birth, I realized I was still giving birth to my beautiful baby, regardless of what tradition told me.

Make it your own birth experience

… And yes, some will still argue with me that I could have easily delivered a 9.3 pound baby vaginally, and yes, you’re right. But that’s not how my baby’s birth happened. I gave birth via cesarean delivery. My baby arrived healthy, I recovered, and my family is complete. Every coo, every snuggle, every smile has been worth the emotional and physical pain I went through before, during, and after my unique delivery. And guess what, I am still a pretty bad ass woman that’s now a mother. Go me 🙂 

If my unique delivery still doesn’t sound right for you, here are some other options you can incorporate into your birth! 

    • Create a playlist and ask your partner to listen to the song that’s playing when baby arrives! 
    • Dim the lights to help your nerves. 
    • If you’re ok with blood, and lots of it, ask for a clear cover so you and/or your partner can watch the delivery (my partner was still able to see the baby come out, sans the blood, if this is too much for you!) 
    • Hire a newborn photographer to capture pictures of your delivery! Memories are SO important and I wish I had more.

Cesarean births are becoming more common in the US

One in 3 births in the US are delivered via a cesarean birth according to the CDC. You are definitely not alone. Sometimes we don’t get the chance to decide what kind of birth we want to experience. It’s important to talk through all the alternatives with your OBGYN so you can feel secure in your delivery, wether it’s vaginal or cesarean.