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.
While she admits to some moments of doubt, this mom wears her scar with pride and encourages other moms to do the same: “I have cellulite and flabby skin, but more than half the time I tell myself I look good...Please start telling yourself you’re beautiful, until you believe it.”
Briana reflects on each of her birth stories, from traumatic emergency c-section to attempted VBAC to gentle c-section. Each scar has brought her a perfect bundle of joy.
We applaud this mom for taking issue with societal pressures of moms bouncing back to their pre-pregnancy bodies so shortly after birth. “I’ve been pregnant for a total of 18 months of my life, so why should I have to slim down only 9 weeks after having my second baby?” she says.
Sarah shares this photo as an affirmation of the journey to self love and her “war wound.” Each time she sees the scar she is reminded of the amazing feat her body accomplished.
This mom offers a refreshing sense of perspective. "For every woman unhappy with her postpartum marks , is another who wishes she had them. Being a mom is worth every stretch mark , wrinkle , and sleepless night."
Now that Gillian has two little girls of her own, she realizes she needs to set an example and be a source of positivity and self love. After having two emergency c-sections, she stresses the importance to be kind to herself. “If I wouldn’t say it to my 5-year-old self, I’m not saying it to my adult self,” she says.
You’re not always going to love your scar. Laura didn’t. It took time and reflection to get to where she is today: “I am perfect in my imperfections, secure in my insecurities, happy with my choices, strong in times of weakness, and beautiful in my own way. I am myself.”
A “normal” delivery? What’s that? This mom reminds us that c-section are just another birth method.
When Melody feels like her body has failed her, she remembers all the challenges it has overcome, from broken hearts to broken bones—and babies, of course.
This proud mom shares her postpartum body four weeks after giving birth. Her way of describing her scar? Worth it.
All three of Amber's deliveries were c-sections, so, as she explains, "this is what birth is to me." How could she ever feel shame? "Motherhood has left me with these scars, but the love I feel for the little people that call me 'mama' is worth every single stitch," she says.
Plus, more from The Bump:
Watch: Gentle C-Sections