In the movies, birth is typically depicted in a dramatic delivery room scene where a woman labors for hours before pushing out a baby. In real life, a little over a third of births in the US happen via Cesarean, or c-section, according to the latest available stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For 33 percent of the nearly four million births a year, a baby is delivered through incisions in a woman’s abdomen and uterus. Most moms don’t plan on having scheduled c-sections, but when baby is breech, you’re delivering multiples or experiencing complications, your odds of having a c-section definitely increase.
No matter how you give birth—vaginally or via c-section—you’re bringing a baby into the world. Sometimes that gets lost due to the stigma attached to c-sections. For some moms, because they didn’t labor or experience a vaginal delivery, they feel like they’ve somehow missed out on the kind of birth they envisioned. For others, they feel shamed by others for having undergone a c-section. In a movement to put an end to c-section stigma, moms are taking to social media to showcase their labor and delivery scars. Their powerful photos and stories are proof that how you give birth isn’t nearly as important as the fact that you gave birth.
For this mom, multiple scars were signs of multiple victories. Her endometriosis surgery scar? A sign of conquering a disorder that almost didn't allow her to have kids. Her c-section scar? A sign that her miracle babies made it.
Two kids, two c-sections. One scheduled, one a complete surprise. But this mom is thankful for the procedure. "Without the quick intuition and speedy decision by the doctors in room to call for an emergency c-section, there is a high probability that Elliot would not be here today."
This mom isn’t fazed by online trolls—or doubters that c-section birth is as natural as vaginal birth. “Bottom line, I want women to feel empowered. I want them to feel like they had a beautiful birth, vaginal or cesarean. Home or hospital,” she writes. “I support all ways to birth.”
Danika Little went into the delivery room expecting a vaginal birth, but when her daughter’s heartbeat drop 100 points from 170 to 70, she had an emergency c-section. “I'll forever be grateful for this scar because that's what got my little lady safely into this world,” Little writes.
C-section births are beautiful, but if you weren’t expecting to have one, this mom hears you. Heather Elizabeth Johnson had been dilated at over 7 cm for 12 hours. “I was angry, I was defeated,” she says of the moment she realized she’d have to opt for a c-section. “How could my body fail me like this?” It’s an all-too-common sentiment, but this gorgeous photo is proof that her body failed no one.
Italian photographer Mama Fedona wants all moms to know they’re enough. “It is so important for me and I'm fighting everyday because having a c-section makes a lot of mamas feel like "series B mamas,’" she wrote in an email to The Bump. “We are all mothers—it doesn't matter how we gave our babies to the world. This scar, for me, is a smile. A smile for having given birth to my Giovanni. A memory on my skin, forever.”
Mom Alysha wears her scars with pride. From her “stretched out tattoo” to “lightning bolt love lines,” this mom loves every part of her postpartum body. After all, they’re “reminders of the two lives [she] created.”
It’s hard to imagine anyone calling a c-section “the easy way out.” It’s major surgery, after all. But some moms still need reminders that there’s no “right” way to deliver baby. That’s where mom Rae comes in. “Don’t forget your birth story is valid,” she writes. “It’s not lazy, or the easy way out, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!”
Getting back to the gym can be tough after pregnancy, especially after surgery. Fitness blogger @TheCaribSpice takes the first step by showing off her two month postpartum body and c-section scar.
For this adorable photo of bath time with baby, mom Em Jai simply captioned it “birthmark.” And that’s exactly what her scar is—a mark of the beautiful life she brought into the world.
Sarah Savona cradles her baby as if she were still in the womb in this sweet photo that highlights her daughter as much as her c-section scar.
Doula service The Doula Tree posted this photo in honor of Cesarean Awareness Month in April. The goal? To support all mothers, regardless of their delivery method.
Having her first baby at 25, Briana Klink Macon says, “I was so young and naive and not able to comprehend the beauty that my body had just accomplished. One vaginal delivery and three c-sections later, I finally get it.” She also gets that it’s never okay to judge another mom’s delivery choice. “Being a mother is hard enough,” she writes. “Why divide ourselves? Why compare?” We couldn’t agree more.
Plus, more from The Bump: