Why Does My C-Section Have to be Awful to Count as 'Real Birth'?

c section scar

Kate Hudson had some major shade thrown her way recently when she referred to her C-section as "the laziest thing [she's] ever done." Predictably, women who've experienced births via C-section fell upon Internet comment sections in droves to share photos of their incision scars, talk about how painful and difficult recovery from their C-sections were, and remind Hudson that a cesarean is a complicated surgery, fraught with the risks and complications of any serious medical procedure.


I'm not going to defend Hudson. She's a beautiful, wealthy celebrity who doesn't need my help, and besides, I doubt she knows or cares about how her words offended so many. What she said was really stupid and hella insensitive. But as a fellow #TeamC-section mom myself, all the commotion got me thinking -- why do we as a culture root for women to have awful C-section experiences? 

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My own C-section was unplanned. While I went into labor with my twins early, at only 33 weeks, I had been on bed rest for months and made the plan with my OB beforehand that come delivery time, I wanted to try for a vaginal delivery. But after three long hours and my best efforts, both babies were still bellyside instead of earthside. Then Baby A's heartbeat started to dip. That's when my OB and I made the call that an unscheduled C-section would be the best way to deliver both babies safely.

Yes, my incision was tender after the surgery. I remember taking teeny, tiny steps back and forth across the parking lot from my car to the NICU every morning and night, frustrated that my body couldn't get me to my babies in their plastic isolettes faster. And I recall biting my lip in discomfort in the middle of the night as I lowered first one baby and then his brother into their bassinets after a feeding, so thankful once we were all home together. 

But compared to some of the birth stories I've heard from friends who've had vaginal deliveries, I honestly feel like I got pretty lucky. I can still do jumping jacks and laugh without peeing myself, so there's that. And if you ask me if I would have another C-section if I knew the experience would be the same as the first time? Absolutely. I was off pain meds in less than three days, driving in less than two weeks, and my scar is so low and light my husband can only find it on the days I'm super attentive with my razor.

Personally, my own C-section was a fantastic experience. But mentioning that online is the 2017 equivalent of taping a "Kick Me" sign on your own back. Because as Hudson showed us, when it comes to C-sections, the only ones we consider valid are the ones that are difficult or hard, which is just all kinds of wrong.

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A C-section is the only surgical procedure where we celebrate people's pain. It's as though some C-section moms believe talking about how rough their cesarean was is necessary to make up for the fact that they didn't experience vaginal childbirth, that the only path to Club Mom involves pain and we C-section moms must show that we paid our cover charge. 

Yet if a vaginal childbirth is easy and painless, we celebrate that as Mom being fierce and awesome -- so why not celebrate an easy C-section too? When a woman has an easy vaginal delivery -- if she tells us that the baby was out in only a few pushes, or that the contractions really weren't that bad -- we don't consider her birth "invalid." We're thrilled for her that the delivery went so smoothly, that she was quickly able to get through the difficult part of childbirth and get on with the loving-and-snuggling-a-new-person part.

Why is there such a different standard for C-sections? A C-section is a major surgery -- so shouldn't we all be even more delighted when it goes well with zero struggles?

When people we love go in for open heart surgery or even a more routine procedure, like having an appendix removed, we don't wish complications upon them so they can "truly experience what it's like." We want them to have a speedy recovery -- the procedure, followed by a few days in bed binge-watching Game of Thrones with some Ben and Jerry's.

Hearing "My major surgery wasn't that hard to recover from!" should be cause for high-fives, not a swarm of women running to talk about how they weren't as lucky with their own C-sections, and therefore those of us who were happy with the experience should just shut up about it. 

We don't celebrate women who say their C-sections were pieces of cake because whether we realize it or not, we're still a culture that views childbirth as something that's supposed to be painful, that mothers are supposed to suffer through in order to bring children into the world. There's this idea that if we don't experience pain in becoming parents, we did something wrong. It's the same argument that comes up when people talk about the decision to have an epidural versus an unmedicated birth, but let's tackle one Mommy War at a time.

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My C-section was so easy that four years later, I barely remember it. And that doesn't make my birth experience any less valid. It's time to stop judging a mom's worth by how much pain she endures during delivery and start celebrating anytime a mom can look back on her baby's birth and think, "I wouldn't change a thing."

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