A New Way to Destigmatize C-Sections? Changing What We Call Them

Could a gentler connotation make for a better birth experience?
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Associate Editor
March 8, 2018

C-sections are life-saving, medically-necessary surgeries for many moms and babies. So why do women sometimes feel so defeated by the procedure? It usually comes down to a sense of being cheated out of the birth experience you thought you’d have, or disappointment with your body for being unable to give birth vaginally. Make no mistake, however: If you’ve had a c-section, you’ve still given birth. And several moms are suggesting we make that crystal clear by referring to c-sections as belly births.

You may have seen the term pop up after Babble’s interview with mom Jordan Grissom last week. After a traumatizing birth experience where her body went into shock after just hearing the phrase “emergency c-section,” she’s speaking out about the importance of calling them something less clinical and a lot more empowering, giving the agency back to moms.

“To me, the term ‘belly birth’ is exactly what a c-section is,” Grissom tells Babble. “You’re birthing your child through your belly. There are many women who feel as though they’ve failed by having a c-section, and that’s just not the case. Using the term ‘belly birth’ pushes the point that we, too, have given birth. It’s just more inclusive.”

Grissom didn’t coin this term, and she’s not the only one to use it. As mom Tammy Biton tells the Australian site EssentialBaby, its connotation can change everything.

“I love the idea of referring to c-sections as ‘belly births’,” Biton says. "For me, the term ‘c-section’ creates a heavy sense in my chest, whereas ‘belly birth’ creates a lightness [that makes me] want to smile.”

Take a look at Instagram. Hundreds of women are tagging their c-section photos with #bellybirth. Still, others use the term to describe a very specific type of c-section, a gentle c-section, where baby nearly wiggles out of your belly on her own.

Call it what you want, but there’s no splitting hairs here: A c-section is still a birth.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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