Caesarean Awareness Month. Can We Please Stop Saying “Normal” Birth in Comparison to a C-Section Birth?

Jun 13, 2023

Can we please stop saying “normal” birth in comparison to a cesarean section birth?

In recognition of April being Caesarean Awareness Month, I would like to recognize all mothers who birthed this way. It doesn’t matter what the reason or what the decision process was to get there, birth is a big deal no matter how it happens. And you should be proud of getting through it & bringing your baby into the world.

If I had a dollar for every postnatal client I’ve met who’s said to me “I had a c-section delivery BUT it was because of this…” or “but I had to.” Gosh, I’d be wealthy!

There is so much shame & guilt that goes with a cesarean section. I hear women say they feel like a failure & that they’re judged for taking the “easy” way out.

Women feel they have to justify why they had a c-section. Whether it was planned or an emergency, it’s always “but it was for this reason.” And sure, there is often a medical reason for having a caesarean. But even if there isn’t & it was the woman’s choice, then that should be the end of the story. No justification is needed. Your body, your choice.

In a perfect world, we would all have a wonderful & empowering vaginal birth. The ability to breathe through contractions, dilation & pushing. I feel that one of the reasons for the cascade of interventions that comes with labour originates from a lack of education prior to birth. Doctors so heavily medicalize the situation & we are not taught to trust our bodies or listen to our intuition. But at the same time, we are also not informed of the different risks that come with birth.

Somehow we forget that caesareans save lives. They allow for babies to be brought into the world safely when they otherwise wouldn’t have been.

So why do we have so much stigma around birthing this way? There is nothing “natural” about having an epidural, an episiotomy, suction & forceps during delivery. All these interventions can save lives, too. Yet it’s those that end up with cesarean section births that feel shame.

And it absolutely doesn’t help that in many countries doctors & midwives will ask a newly pregnant woman who is having a second or third baby, “did you have a normal or c-section delivery previously?” Of course, this immediately implies you’re not normal for having had surgery.

I completely understand the disappointment that comes with your birth plan not going the way you desired. Especially if you’ve spent months learning about hypnobirthing & working with a doula & wanting everything to be as drug-free as possible. I understand women can have a primal desire to experience birth the way it was intended. But a healthy mother & a healthy baby are really the only outcomes you need from your delivery.

So however you brought your baby into the world, know it was a huge experience. And it is for every other woman too. You can be proud of your natural, drug-free birth, and you should be! But there is absolutely no judgement when it comes to others. I encourage you to refer to birth as either vaginal or caesarean, rather than “normal” or “natural” versus caesarean. I feel this will make a start towards helping women feel “less than” when it comes to birth.

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