Why is there so much judgement against women who have c-sections? Every single birth is a miracle and should be celebrated.

 

By Margaret Rogers, MPA

Why is there so much judgement against women who have c-sections? Every single birth is a miracle and should be celebrated. When I had my daughter via scheduled c-section due to my medical history of abdominal surgery that put me at increased risk for uterine rupture during labor, I was shocked by some of the comments I received about having a c-section. While some were uplifting encouragement, advice, or words of solidarity from other women who had c-sections, many were negatively phrased to make me feel bad or less than for not having a vaginal birth. As I heard more and more of these judgmental remarks, I began learning more about what is known as “c-section shaming.”

For starters, what’s a c-section?

According to ACOG, a caesarean section, commonly referred to as a c-section, is “the delivery of a baby through incisions made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.” Aka a surgery that involves having your stomach and uterus cut open to retrieve the baby. This differs from a vaginal birth—what many people think of as the typical or more traditional way to give birth. A vaginal birth is simply the birth of a baby through the vagina.

How many people have c-sections?

The prevalence of c-sections is on the rise, and in recent years, roughly a third of all births in the United States have been via this procedure. To be exact, in 2015, 32% of all births in the US were via c-section, which equates to more than 1.3 million cesarean section births. That’s a lot of babies being born via c-section!

Why do people get c-sections?

There are many reasons why women may deliver a baby via c-section, and some of the most common reasons according to ACOG are listed below.

  • Failure of labor to progress
  • Concern for the baby
  • Multiple pregnancy
  • Problems with the placenta
  • A very large baby
  • Breech presentation
  • Maternal infections, such as human immunodeficiency virus or herpes
  • Maternal medical conditions, such as diabetes mellitus or high blood pressure

It’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive or all inclusive. For instance, I had to have a c-section because of a previous surgical procedure called an open abdominal myomectomy. Due to the vertical incision made in my uterus during my myomectomy, I am at increased risk of uterine rupture if I were ever to go into labor. I’ve gotten opinions from at least four OBGYNs on the possibility of having a vaginal birth after an open myomectomy, and all of them told me it would be too dangerous to pursue.

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What is c-section shaming?

C-section shaming is when women are shamed or judged for having a c-section. Some consider c-sections as the “easy way out” or “not a natural birth,” which leads to the judgement towards people who do have c-sections. If you Google c-section shaming or search around on social media, you’ll find endless accounts of women sharing their stories of c-section shaming. This is absolutely horrible! As women, we should be supporting one another and lifting one another up during the prenatal, pregnancy, postpartum, and motherhood experiences.

While there is no data on this, my personal opinion is that c-section shaming arises from people who think most women choose or selectively opt into c-sections as the “easy” way out of “natural” vaginal birth. However, only a very small minority of c-sections are due to maternal request. In fact, it is estimated that just 2.5% of all births in the US are c-sections due to maternal request. So, the vast majority of c-sections are out of medical necessity. Plus, even if a woman requests to have an optional c-section, that is her choice and right to choose! There shouldn’t be any judgement passed by others.

Why c-sections are awesome

C-sections are an amazing, life-saving medical procedure, and without them, there would be more maternal and infant mortality. In fact, the WHO “found that as countries increase their caesarean section rates up to 10%, maternal and neonatal mortality decrease.” However, just as with any surgery, there are associated risks with the procedure, and it is important to discuss these with your doctor.

Every way of giving birth is tough

No matter how you give birth, it’s likely to be a draining and tough process, but also one that is miraculous, life-changing, and rewarding. Instead of tearing others down for their birth method, I say let’s lift up all people giving birth, no matter the circumstances! Plus, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that both baby and mama are healthy.