Yep, C-Section Shaming Is a Thing -- but This Mom Shuts ... It ... Down ...

c-section scars

If you've ever had a C-section with any (or all) of your kids, you're probably reading and sharing new mom Raye Lee's super viral Facebook post about her Cesarean. Lee gave birth to her son, Roxas, a week ago, and apparently got flak from some snarker claiming that a Cesarean is "the easy way out" and that she "didn't actually give birth." Exhausted and sore as she was, the new mom sat down to write a "LONG DRAMATIC POST" (her words) that would shut up the haters.  


As Lee explains, her C-section was an emergency last resort. She'd already been in labor for 38 hours, and Roxas was showing signs of life-threatening distress. She describes with wince-inducing clarity how her abs were "shredded and mangled," and how agonizing it was trying to get up and walk afterward. If that weren't enough to convince you that a Cesarean is anything but easy, Lee includes pictures of her still-healing scar.

"I now belong to a badass tribe of mamas with the scar to prove that I had a baby cut out of me and lived to tell the tale (because you can die from this, you know)," she says.

That tribe is bigger than all the Survivor cast members put together: The post has already been shared nearly 7,500 times.

I'm a member of that badass tribe myself, thank you -- my second child was born via C-section -- and I had two reactions to Lee's passionate post. The first was: You tell 'em, Cesarean sister! A C is definitely not for wimps!

My second thought was: Oh, MAN. Is birth-shaming seriously a thing?

Seems like every time we open a website or social media feed, another salvo in the Mommy Wars is being launched. The breastfeeders and the formula feeders still resent each other's choices, and strangers have no problem shooting glares at nursing moms or lecturing a bottle-feeder on the superiority of breast milk. Moms of kids with special needs speak out for understanding, acceptance, and level playing fields; other moms gripe about having to bring nut-free treats to school and endure transgender-friendly public bathrooms in the name of inclusion. Helicopter moms square off against free-range parents. Spanking opponents cite studies on psychological damage; pro-spankers say that a small smack on the bottom never did any harm.

More from CafeMom: If You Were Spanked as a Child, You're Not 'Fine' & Your Kid Won't Be Either

But all this battling and soapboxing isn't making us better mothers. If anything, it's making us doubt ourselves more. We can't leave our children alone in the yard or for a moment in the car, for fear that some well-intentioned soul will call the cops for our neglect. We can't post a lighthearted picture of a baby with a beer bottle or a 7-year-old in a bikini without having our ethics called into question. Hell, we can't even post any adorable picture of our kids without critics tsk-tsking about online predators and violations of children's rights to control their own images.

We're supposed to be in this parenting journey together; instead, we look for any reason to take sides.

So now we have to start up a new fight about what constitutes "real" childbirth?


Have we become so insecure and competitive that we actually feel superior to another mother because our baby entered the world through nature's little exit door, while hers came out a few inches north? Will we soon be reduced to comparing the total length of labor pain to the time it takes to heal from an abdominal incision? Will there be apps to record the torment on a scale of 0 to DRUG ME UP TO MY EYEBALLS?

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I had the best of both worlds, childbirth-ically speaking: My son was delivered in typical fashion, while my daughter came via C-section. So I got to endure both the searing contractions and the throbbing post-op belly. But I don't spend my days comparing the two births, and I don't think of myself as more or less lucky or martyred than other mothers.

My son had to be induced for medical reasons a few days before his due date; does that mean I had a less "legitimate" birth than mothers who had the stereotypical middle-of-the-night "Honey, it's time" experience? Am I any less a parent because I didn't have a doula-assisted water delivery in a holistic birthing suite with a Spotify-selected soundtrack?

Let's be honest: No matter how our children were born, most of us will have forgotten about the worst of the contractions and post-op aches by the time they reach their first birthday.

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And 20 years from now, what will it matter? Our college-age kids aren't going to brag to each other about their birth stories. Shouldn't we all focus on what's important -- having a healthy baby and mom -- and spend more time worrying about the parts of the world where women don't have access to good prenatal care, much less world-class hospitals with soothing maternity wards? (By the by, the US ranks higher in infant mortality than any other wealthy country, due largely to the lack of resources to low-income moms.)

Let's give a cheer to Raye Lee for sharing her story and offering support to every mom who has that telltale belly scar to show for her efforts. (Don't forget to congratulate her on her baby boy, who is beyond adorable.) But let's not rush to jump on the birth-shaming wagon. We all have enough to feel guilty about as it is.


Image via Raye Lee/Facebook

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