Actress Gemma Atkinson Defends Herself Against C-Section Shaming
In July, British actress Gemma Atkinson gave birth to her daughter, Mia, via an emergency c-section that was exhausting and emotional, as childbirth is. But a stranger recently told her she hadn’t experienced “proper labor” by having the surgery. Roughly 1 in 3 births happen via c-section, so you’d think by now the stigma surrounding the surgery would no longer be an issue. Unfortunately, that’s not yet the case.
Atkinson’s c-section wasn’t part of the birth plan she had intended, and it almost cost her her life after she had a hemorrhage. But thanks to her quick-thinking doctors, both she and Mia are now safe and healthy. Which is why it was so needling when a stranger felt the need to tell her what she’d experienced wasn’t real childbirth.
“A lady recently joked with me that I’d had the easy option when it came to having Mia as I didn’t experience ‘proper labor,’” she wrote in an Instagram post over the weekend. “She wasn’t being nasty, she said it in jest and she was actually really lovely, but it did get me thinking when I got home. Had I failed? Had I not done it ‘properly?’”
Atkinson faced the same unfortunate experience that so many other c-section moms have had. From the mom who was told she was taking the “ easy way out” to the photographer who refused to take birth photos because she felt the woman was “ cutting corners,” too many women have been shamed for having a surgery that is sometimes necessary to ensure a safe delivery for mom and baby. And Atkinson decided she wasn’t having it.
“After a good chat with myself, I came to the conclusion that the only ‘proper’ way to have a baby is the way that’s safest for you and your baby,” she wrote. “There is nothing easy about having a c-section,” Atkinson continued. “There is nothing easy about a vaginal delivery. They are both tiring, scary, emotionally draining and each have their own recovery process both mentally and physically. However you brought your baby into the world was right for you and your baby at that time and that’s what matters.”
She then signed off her post with a message to other moms who might be feeling guilty about their own c-sections. “To any mums who like me had to have a c-section and are feeling a little odd about it (which is normal), the above is for you,” she wrote.
The post featured a photo with a popular quote.
“Cut me open,” it begins. “I love my baby so much, that I will do anything to get my baby out of my body alive. Lay me out, cut me open because I love my baby so much. That is courage. That is bravery and sacrifice and mothering in its purest form. That is the willingness to lay down your body and risk your life that your child might be born, that your child might live.”
Atkinson’s message has resonated with many of her followers. At press time, the post had received nearly 42,000 likes, with dozens of women leaving comments sharing details about their own c-sections.
“This. Just this,” one person wrote with praise hands emojis. “I’ve had two c-sections… First was an emergency after a failed induction; there was nothing at all easy about it. I just wanted my girl here safe and sound. And the second was a planned c-section; so calm compared to the first one but painful afterwards. Anyone who thinks it is easy, it’s far from it.”
“After two emergency c-sections with my children, I totally need this every so often,” a second person commented. “People talk about labor and the pains so freely, but very rarely do they discuss the absolute agony of c-section recovery and the emotional impact they have on the mother. From one c-section mom to another—we are all equally amazing!”
“If I had not had an emergency c-section, my baby would not have made it,” a third woman shared. “A healthy baby is what matters, no matter how they made their entrance.”