I Refuse To Feel Shame Over My C-Sections

c-section

There is something about the internet that makes people feel free to say the strangest things, to declare expert status on topics without bothering to find out the information. All it takes is one seemingly innocent comment on one mutual friend’s FB page and let the shaming begin!

Well, internet, I reject your shame.

I will be having a scheduled C-section with this baby, like I did with my first, and guess what? I am still a good mom. Some women have scheduled C-section just because, and honestly though the C-section rate is indeed high and we could do a better job of supporting mothers to deliver vaginally, it’s none of your business why they schedule them.

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I don’t know their stories, but I do know mine. Perhaps it will help you understand.

With my first, we presented a birth plan to my OB at our 35 week appointment. It involved walking around the hospital, warm showers and as little intervention as possible. My OB was totally on board until the ultrasound showed that my son, Max, was not just breach but “jacknifed” his small butt stuck by my left hip, his head up near my right ribs and his feet both stuck over his head. There was no way he was coming out. I tried everything. Lay on an ironing board off the couch and hang with your head near the floor and your legs in the air with a pack of frozen peas on his head, the idea being that the cold and the change in direction would encourage him to move. Did it. Poor guy was stuck. He wasn’t able to move, even if he had wanted too.

I will never forget how quiet and still she was during that ultrasound, concern on her face as after what seemed like forever she said “I don’t think you’re going to get the birth you hope for, we will need to do a C-section.” Zach and I breathed a sigh of relief after she assured us that baby was fine, just stuck, and our immediate response was “Oh, is THAT all?”

That C-section can only be likened to the final scenes of Braveheart. Two nurses climbed on the table and pushed and wiggled as I was cut farther and farther open in order to finagle one very stuck baby boy out of me.

Yet, you judge, internet.

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You don’t know that when you toss that out, and accuse my doctor of wanting an easy way out, what a struggle that surgery was. You don’t know that when Zach asked Dr. K when it was all over what would have happened to Max and I back in the pioneer days and she said very quietly “they both would have died in labor.” All you hear is scheduled C-section and you make assumptions.

I went into labor with Huck, my second, at 29 weeks, the exact same gestational age as I am right now with this baby. We were in and out of the hospital, on bedrest, on contraction stopping drugs and when my water broke at 36 weeks my entire team supported my decision to try for a VBAC.

Yet, you come on FB and say “Don’t let your doctor talk you into a C-section! You are a PERFECT candidate for a VBAC! You could deliver the right way!”

You don’t know what the doctors did support me. In the end, after the baby started showing signs of stress, my OB suggested a C-section and I agreed.

I knew then that if I had another baby it would be a direct ticket to the OR and I am at peace with that. I have had two C-sections. One with a swiss cut and one with a singular cut. To risk tearing and bleeding out is silly in my opinion. I have two sweet boys who want their mommy around. I have a baby girl in my womb who is hoping to be born and loved. I don’t think she cares how she gets out. Just that she does.

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So, internet, I reject your shame. You can keep it.

I wouldn’t even be here to be a mother to my baby if it weren’t for a scheduled C-section; scheduled in the nick of time as it turned out, as my contractions were two minutes apart when they checked me in with Max.

We can never know anyone’s reason for having a C-section and it isn’t any of our business. The only proper thing to say is  ”all that matters is mommy and baby are happy and here at the end of the day.” Then smile at the mama and congratulate her.

The end.

About the writer

Stephanie Dulli is a former actress and stand up comic who left Los Angeles for the suburbs of Maryland to raise her two young boys (now pregnant with a girl!) with her educator husband. Director of the Washington, D.C. Listen to Your Mother Show she blogs at Stephanie Says and manages to live with her mother in law. That may be her greatest accomplishment to date. 

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Amanda 4 months ago

Before I ever got pregnant, I always said I preferred a C-Section. Then I got pregnant with twins, and somehow all those hormones messed with my head and I wanted to experience EVERYTHING. Including pushing out not one but two fairly large babies. In the end I went into labour too soon and had to have C-Section at 36 weeks. I’d been so intent on not having a c-section that I’d refused to inform myself. It all came as a shock, but it saved our lives. All three of us. I was a little sad afterwards, but now I’m very grateful we are all healthy and happy and alive. C-sections are wonderful scientific advancements. They save lives. And for those who chose one just because, well good for them. You have to feel comfortable with what you need and chose. For the record, a C-Section is no walk in the park.

Kari Saghh 4 months ago

I scheduled a c section because I wanted to. My daughter was breech the day she was born, so I would’ve had one anyway. I don’t care, it was best for me and my daughter.

Jacquie Harloff 4 months ago

It’s appalling to me that anyone, whether they mean to or not, has made anyone feel shame or guilt about having a C-section. I have heard people call it “taking the easy way out”. My thoughts are that anyone who thinks that having a major surgery is easy is a fool. And to suggest that a mother and her doctor would schedule a C-section for pure convenience vs what’s best for mom and/or baby is insulting!

Leslie Kendall Dye 5 months ago

Thank you for sharing the story. My baby was also in that position–they called it “transverse” which is about 1 percent of the time and it is literally not possible for a baby to survive without surgical intervention in that situation. Because I had already been pre-shamed about C-section, thoroughly versed in how damaged my child would be for eternity if she couldn’t come out “naturally” that I sobbed and wailed when told that this life-saving procedure was available, instead of being immediately grateful that I had the advantage of science and medicine to save my child. It took me a while to accept how it went down, and that’s a shame in itself, all that shaming wore me out. Now I have seen the light and realize that my child seems, despite the horrendous shock of C-section! to be pretty happy.

Sarah 5 months ago

You are one amazing mom I have to have a c-section as well and I had 2 already there’s nothing shameful about it and I’m having a little girl as well thank you so much you make me feel better about what I have to go through

Beth 5 months ago

Both of my girls were scheduled C-sections. My 11 year old was jack knifed and butt down. We tried everything to turn her. I even checked in to the hospital so my OB could try to manually turn her! Doing that can trigger labor. She would not budge. Went into labor two days before my scheduled date. 8lbs and 1oz perfect girl born 4 hours later. My hospital does not support VBAC so I knew my second would be C-section as well. I was fine with that. Sometimes I wish I could have experienced a vaginal birth but it wasn’t in the cards for me. And I have never been ashamed of my births. Until you’ve walked in someone else’s shoes you don’t know their life.

Elisabeth 9 months ago

So true! I’ve had one Cesarean, one VBAC, and one early stillbirth (technically a VBAC, like it matters). The vaginal is easier and quicker to recover from, so get it if you can. Any delivery that has mom and baby leaving the hospital alive and together is a HUGE success.

Naomi 10 months ago

I have 2 beautiful children both via C-Section. My first, my daughter, was almost exactly the same as yours except that her pelvis was firmly stuck in mine. We knew at 30 weeks that she would be delivered via C-Section. I remember the day she turned into the wrong position. I was walking down the hallway to the kitchen and was stopped dead in my tracks as she did the 180 spin. It completely knocked the wind out of me. I had my next appointment with my OB a week later and told him what had happened, he immediately scanned me and confirmed she wasn’t in the right position for a vaginal birth. I was heart broken but at the same time was relieved to know so early so I could prepare myself. We didn’t tell anyone except my parents as I wanted them at the hospital. I am so glad I kept it to myself because the comments and looks you get after are stunning. On the other hand I spoke with young women who were determined to have a C-Section even if they might not need to. I explained I didn’t have a choice and it’s major surgery. They have to cut through 7 layers to get to the baby. I couldn’t legally drive for 6weeks after. They were stunned.
With my son I was able to have a VBAC as he was in the perfect position. I told people prior to the birth we had decided to go C-Section and was made to feel weak and inconsiderate of my unborn babies rights to be delivered “the right way”. I felt so bad after one woman’s comments and opinions I almost changed my mind. My primary reason for going again for a C-Section was my fear of rupturing my scar trying to deliver naturally. Just on 2 weeks after my sons birth I met a woman who almost lost hers and her daughters life trying for a VBAC. I am so happy now that I stuck with my decision. Both births were smooth and relaxing (as much as it can be during surgery) and I fully believe my children benefited from my relaxed feelings.
Thank you for your article.

Heather 10 months ago

I had a scheduled C-section with my 2nd child and I don’t really care what people have to say when I tell them. It was a pretty easy decision for me. I had a lot of issues with my first child, which I had naturally, after he was born. My son ripped an artery in me and caused me to almost bleed out. I had to be rushed into the OR for an emergency surgery after he was born. When they took my blood pressure in the OR it was 50/30. I was losing consciousness and a lot of blood at the same time. Overall the surgery took 45 minutes because they honestly had no idea why I was bleeding. They took me to the OR for an emergency D&C and once they had me under and started the surgery they found the ripped artery. Overall I had to be given 3 blood transfusions and I don’t remember my sons first day of life because of the anesthesia. The next day the one nurse attending to me told me that I was losing so much blood as I was leaving the OB floor that they honestly did not think I would be coming back from the surgery. They thought that my son would be going home motherless. Imagine how I felt! Realizing how close I had come to never seeing or holding my child. I talked to the doctors once I was ready to go home and I asked a very important question. How is this going to effect my next pregnancy, And I was told they did not know. They did not know if it was going to be a complication or not. So when I became pregnant with my daughter I automatically went with the C-section because there was no guarantee that nothing would happen and I did not want to risk it.

Moral of the story never judge a mother by her decision to have a C-section because you have no idea what prompted her to make that decision.

holly 10 months ago

With my first daughter i was in labor for a while with no progression i had only dialated 4cm and i stayed right there the dr said i needed a c section or i would have a lot of problems if i delivered her naturally i was very upset when he mentioned c section but i was so completely weak and wiped out that even if i had delivered vaginally it would have taken alot longer so my daughter was born at 8lbs 8oz a beautiful healthy baby girl she is now 4 years old today and very tall for her age…with my 2nd daughter i had a scheduled c section because there was a chance the scar on my uterus could have torn open in delivery and i would have had to be rushed to the OR so the dr said another c section would be the best option now my youngest daughter is 1 and healthy and also tall for being 1 im happy i am here for my girls and although i wanted to go vaginal im just happy thier healthy and beautiful and smart girls

EDEN 10 months ago

My first daughters umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck in utero strangling her. Her heart rate was only 60. My doctor told me I needed to go to the hospital & he would meet me there to preform a c-section, and to get ready I was having my baby today. She was in so much danger they took me straight to the operating room & put me to sleep cuz there was no time to wait. If not for a c-section THAT DAY at THAT TIME, my daughter wouldve been still born. Luckily my weekly check up was at the right time & there is such a process as a c-section to save my daughters life. How ever I did get to experience the magic of natural birth with my second pregnancy that was also twins. I delivered both vaginaly despite the fact that my second twin was breech, and despite the fact that I’m paralyzed from the waist down. I’d like to see the women who are bragging they are superior cuz they delivered naturally to try to doing it my way. There are several kinds of births. In my opinion as long as baby & mama are healthy you’ve accomplished a miracle. Because being a mother is sooo much more than just about the birth itself. Its about having the strength to carry & create that child (or children) inside yourself. And the strength & patience to care for your children for the years to come. So remember being a mother is more than just giving birth.

Mary 10 months ago

Good for you deciding what’s right. When I started experiencing complications with my twin pregnancy, I focused on what was best for my babies. I was put on full bed rest at 27 weeks. I made it to 32 weeks before the babies needed to come out, due to preeclampsia. I had a BP of 161/118, and was rising. One of my doctors discussed not being able to turn baby “B”, who was flipping between transverse and breech. So, off they wheeled me to have a c-section. I knew it was the right choice for us. My poor husband was scared out of his mind. After they were born, as soon as I was allowed, I walked (hobbled) to the NICU to see them. I think that it wasn’t really “my” birth. It was my daughters’ birth. They needed to be kept safe, and in that moment, that meant getting them out as quickly as possible. I’ve had a few people tell me I “took the easy way out” (one was a man). I just laugh at them and say, “for who?” I feel very lucky to be alive, lucky that our girls are alive and I am deeply grateful for the excellent care we received from the doctors and nurses.

Sara 10 months ago

I think c-section moms have it way harder! I’m blessed with 2 vag Births but I feel fOr csection mommies! Props to you all!

Jodi 10 months ago

I had to have an emergency c-section with my first son. I scheduled my second son’s c-section because I had the choice to VBAC, or not. It was a good thing I chose not to VBAC. Like your son, mine was all twisted around. They of course found this out after opening me up. I think we as women need to support each others birth plans. The main objective is to have a safe birth with a healthy baby. Good for you for having your kids in your bathtub, good for you for having an epidural, good for you for having a natrual child birth, good for you for having a c-section.

Kay Taylor 10 months ago

We planned a C-section with our daughter because I am disabled. I have never faced judgment because of it, but I know plenty of other women who have.

I don’t get it, honestly. Why, with all the things that are available to talk about out there in the big, wide world would someone choose to judge how a baby is born? And not only judge, but make asinine comments and statements that show a disregard for another person’s well-being, choices and decisions, even their lives for choosing to undergo a major surgery in order to have a baby. They don’t know what those parents were feeling, or fearing, or thinking about. And it is scary, even planning it so far in advance as I did. I was never even in labor, yet I was terrified something would go wrong anyway.

The day I arrived at the hospital to have my daughter, I was a week shy of my due date. That said, I had started to dilate and labor could have stated within hours. I might have died. I might have been paralyzed from the waist down. I might have suffered immeasurable pain for the rest of my days if I’d tried to push her out of my broken body. But I didn’t do any of those things, because we chose a C-section. Yes, I have scars and numbness and lack of muscle tone and aggravating incontinence. They are worth it to be here for her.

Amber A 10 months ago

As a mother of 2 healthy & happy girls, 13 and 5 respectively, and BOTH c-section deliveries I can say I do not regret the decision to have surgery for either of them even though with my oldest, it wasn’t the original plan but after 5 hours of pushing and she wasn’t coming out off to surgery we went. 45 min. later I had my healthy 7 lb 9 oz’er. My 5 yr. old was a TOTALLY different ball game. Though scheduled, her entrance into this world was an exhausting one. It took my OB climbing onto the table, straddling me and pulling on my daughter while one of the assisiting nurses was in between my knees digging her heels into the floor while pushing my daughter upwards in my birth canal because she STUCK. Finally, #2 came out and all was well…. So Stephanie, power to you on your decision(s) and good luck with your newest addition!!

Emilysingz 10 months ago

Thank you! I’ve actually been told I took the easy way out. This post brought tears to my eyes!

Ellen Ashman 10 months ago

how can anyone criticize how you bring your child into this world? Some c-section are by choice and some aren’t. Sometimes it’s the safest way for mother and baby! For me it’s was the safest option. My hips don’t rotate like they’re suppose to. So I scheduled my c-section because didn’t want to try naturally and my daughter not make it the thru the birth canal. We both did perfect during surgery and I wouldn’t have changed anything!! My daughter and I both made it with no complications which is a blessing in itself. As long your baby/babies make into this crazy world safe and sound no one can judge that!! Get it together women!!

Domonique 10 months ago

Having a Emergency c-section made having my child the absolute worst experience of my life. No miracle birth for me, no enjoyment. 28 hours of zero intervention labor 12 of which were at 1:30 contractions (not even an iv)…absolute piece of cake, being told I was having a c-section with little to no choice in the matter, worst news of my life. My daughter is 11mo old and I still don’t feel that I even gave birth to her. She was ripped out of me. No amount of people telling me “you both would have died if not for the c-section” helps. It just makes me more angry that my body did not do what it has been designed since the beginning of time to do. It’s a failure on my body’s part. So for me it’s not other people shaming me for having a c-section it’s an internal struggle to know that although I have all the “lady parts” to make the baby I’m incapable of having the baby without intervention. I will never ever have another child because I will not put myself through a c-section and the metal issues that came along with it.

Didi 11 months ago

Thank you for this post!!!!! OMG – you don’t know how many friends and relatives have CRINGED when they learned I had CS. It was as if I did something wrong! I don’t understand why there is judgement, I don’t understand where it stems from? Are they envious of us? I mean COME ON, it doesn’t make you a better mother if you gave birth normally – right? Sigh…

Thank you for this!!!

Love, Didi

Jomedic 11 months ago

I had scheduled my primary C-sec but my body decided not to wait. Ended up having an emergent C-sec because at 37 weeks I became pre-eclamptic. However, I would have been just as ok with my decision if things had gone as sched 2 weeks later. I was 40 and had medical and psyc issues stemming from my service as a Paramedic, retired due to injury in the line of duty. I don’t have to justify my decision to anyone. I’m just as much a mother aaa the woman who gave birth vaginally, and without drugs. (Which the idea of I frankly find ridiculous, but if it’s important to her, go for it mama!) I have no problem with a mom choosing whatever way she wants to have her birth experience. And I hope she can get it. As we all know, from the time we conceive these precious bundles, we’re no longer truly in charge!

Jessica 11 months ago

Great post! Thanks for sharing your experience!

Holly 11 months ago

At 4 weeks postpartum, I needed this reminder. I had to have a scheduled c-section for about a handful of health reasons for both my baby and I. I also knew from 8-weeks prenatal, that my odds of VBAC were slim to none, if even that. And I was 100% okay with that. I just wanted my baby to arrive healthy, and as stress free to him as possible. I also wanted the ability to actually BE here and raise my son (dealt with 3 years of heartbreaking infertility, so I was definitely not going to make a decision that’d put my life at risk and miss raising my baby). I ended up going into labor 4 days before my scheduled date. After my c-section, the judgment and negativity started. I was less of a woman for taking ‘the easy way out’. I was made to feel like I was going to be a bad mom for the decision to put mine and my child’s health above all. I gave birth, via c-section, to a happy, healthy, hairy 8lb 1oz baby boy, and I’m alive to be able to hold and love him. Screw what everyone else says.

Lyndsay S 11 months ago

I’m a mom of 2… both vaginal without pain management. I am not better than anyone else, had I not been afraid of the epidural I would have gotten one, if either of my children needed a section I would have done it. But what I get judged on is my choice to have a tubal the day after my son was born when I was 23. Apparently I was too young to know that I didn’t want more and I would/will regret my decision… they don’t care to ask why. I believe as long as mother and child are happy and healthy it is none of my business how it happened. As mothers and human beings we need to start lifting each other up and quit tearing in each other down for decisions that don’t effect you but effect their happiness due to harsh judgement.

Sara 11 months ago

I don’t get why there would be judgement. Yes, vaginal birth may be ideal, but let’s be honest…..how often does an “ideal” happen in any circumstance? If vaginal is the “best” way, then I get why people might raise an eyebrow if you’re scheduling a c-section only for convenience. And even then, I may not agree, but I don’t really need to, now do I? Not my baby.

BUT…. the second the words emergency, safety, or medical necessity, or even medically recommended, come into play, all bets are off. You get that baby out healthy, the “how” ceases to matter.

My daughter was born by c-sec at just shy of 38 weeks. I had battled pre-eclampsia since week 29, had a failed induction, and was being told (after laying in that room for 52 hours with minor contractions but NO dilation)…”we can send you home and try again next week… (um, noooo) but right now we have a baby with a heartbeat and there’s no guarantee we’ll have that on Monday.” Yeah, doc, go grab the knife, please.

I never had any shame, and never felt judged….people were sympathetic because a c section is major surgery. Birth is tough, no matter what type you are recovering from. If we have a second, I’d love to consider VBAC. But if it doesn’t seem like the best choice, get the knife, doc.

Plus, when my little angel is showing me her devil side, I get the added bonus of being able to say “you do know they had to cut me open to get you out, right?”

Whitney 11 months ago

I’ve had both a natural child birth and a csection. I was amazed how beautiful and loving my csection was. I honestly thought it was a nicer birth than my natural child birth. My first got stuck and gave me fourth degree tearing. I chose a c-section at the advice of my doctor for my second child because I didn’t want to go through that again. A c-section was easier to recover from than the 4th degree tearing. I now have to do another surgery to fix problems from the tearing. I loved my c-section, it was the right way for me and sounds like it was for you too. Yours sounded very difficult!!! Poor stuck baby. Way to go!

Kelly 12 months ago

At nearly 4 months post-partum, I am so thankful for stories like this. When I was pregnant, I thought I at least had some idea what I was in for. I had done my research, written a beautiful birth guide, and had completely ignored the possibility of a C-section. My OB was wonderful and incredibly supportive of a more holistic childbirth experience in a hospital setting. What could go wrong? Well, I was induced at 41 weeks for high blood pressure (146/95, when I’m normally around 110/75). I knew the risks of induction, but I was confident I could deliver vaginally. But after more than 30 hours of back labor, 5 hours of sleep, water that broke early, and Pitocin that simply wasn’t doing what it was supposed to, I never progressed more than 3 cm. I delivered a healthy, beautiful baby boy via C-section 41 hours after I first entered the hospital, and there’s no shame in that.

Dania 1 year ago

We need more articles like this.
I had a c section with my first pregnancy due to labor complications. I was eight centimeters dialated when I was rushed in operating room. I wanted to avoid it… But in the end I enjoyed my c section. I have feeling around my incision actually my husband and I can’t even
see my ‘scar’. The doc mentioned some pressure during surgery … I didn’t notice any. My husband & I laughed & chatted with the doctors thru it all. I felt ok and great within 5 days with little to moderated rest and no pain relief because I was nursing. The pain was very bearable.. And my tolerance for pain is extremely low. I would do it again. Very controlled and predictable unlike my labor that felt forced, unpredictable and chaotic! I’m sure if our grandmothers had certain technology & similar options the would be very greatful!!

Jan 1 year ago

I had 5 children and 4 csections. Two of the 5 children are twins. Three of the four csections were medically necessary. My first was too big to fit through the birth canal and was stressed. My second was the only scheduled one. My twins were born at 7 months with an emergency surgery due to heart and kidney failure related to toxemia. My last child I had placenta previa and had a csection. I thank god every day for medical miracles everyday because I probably would have died with my twins otherwise. No one made me feel ashamed about it. I have 5 beautiful kids today thanks to csections.

Jennifer 1 year ago

Thank you for writing this. My 1st was transverse breech with polyhydramnios (excess amniotic water). Dr said we could attempt to turn him, but he had “a big enough swimming pool” that it was no guarantee to help. Fast forward to my 2nd, who went into fetal distress and had to be emergency c section!

I occasionally get nasty remarks from family about “taking the easy way out” or “that i didn’t really go through labor” because i had 2 c sections… i doubt my recovery was somehow easier than your natural delivery! Both my boys are strong & healthy and that’s what matters!

Mariana 1 year ago

The goal of pregnancy is a healthy baby and healthy mama, everything else is icing on the cake. Why is is acceptable to want a natural delivery and not acceptable to want a cirurgical one? My body, my choices, right? I wanted a vaginal delivery, with meds, I got two csections. The second one schedule to fit my very frivolous wish to have the baby on the month of my birthday (I was 39 weeks, could have waited until 40, but I didn’t want to). I’m no less of a mother either, and I don’t love my kids less than any other mother on earth, regardless of how they got their kids.

Recovery was not so bad either.

marie 1 year ago

though I realize that there are people who “opted” for a csection, there are many of us who did it for baby’s safety. I’d jackslap anyone judging me for doing that. (and I did two csections for that reason, so I’d double jackslap)

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