Inside: No matter what is trendy, here’s why I don’t want you to call my C-section a “belly birth” and you might not want to either.
So “Belly Birth” is a Thing Now…
Apparently there is a growing trend of calling C-sections “belly births,” according to a recent article I read online and the ensuing discussion.
While I’ve never heard anyone in my own real life say “belly birth,” the article I read a couple weeks ago had TONS of shares. So someone out there is saying it!
Reasons given for the name switcheroo include:
- downplaying the surgical aspect of a cesarean birth
- empowering women
- normalizing cesarean births
- helping women heal emotionally
While I have no problem with other mamas referring to their birth in any way they want (it is their experience of course), a “belly birth” is not for me.
Don’t Call my C-Section a Belly Birth
Here’s why I don’t want you to refer to my cesarean delivery as a “belly birth” and why you’ll never hear me say it either.
1. My C-Section was Major Surgery
Because cesarean deliveries are so common in the United States (about 1 in 3 births), it is often looked at as routine, minor surgery.
Or perhaps it is because a c-section is a method to delivery babies, that it is not viewed as a major medical procedure (by those who haven’t had one at least).
A cesarean birth is most definitely major surgery. The procedure involves two incisions: one through the abdomen and a second through the uterus. Like any invasive surgical procedure, it carries serious risks – in this case for both mother and child.
C-Section risks include:
- blood clots
- breathing problems for the child, especially if done before 39 weeks of pregnancy
- increased risks for future pregnancies
- injury to the child during surgery
- longer recovery time compared with vaginal birth
- surgical injury to other organs
Does that sound minor? Didn’t think so!
Even if you don’t experience any of those complications, recovery from a cesarean delivery takes longer than a traditional vaginal birth (without complications).
It’s not cute, it’s not “no big deal” …so why pretend that it is?
Related: 5 Things Every C-Section Mama Needs to Hear
2. A Cute-sy Name Like “Belly Birth” Does NOT Empower Me
One of the main reasons I read for the use of the euphemism “belly birth” is that it empowers women.
How so you ask?
A recent article in Babble explains, “when you talk about C-sections, it’s often in terms of something that happened to a woman, rather than being something that she did. Having a belly birth, however, gives the power back to the mother.”
I feel like it’s just the opposite. Knowing that I endured a major surgery (see above), brought my daughter into the world, and spent months healing and re-training my body to do basic functions makes me feel powerful. Pretending it was a pleasant experience does not.
A “Belly birth” sure sounds sweet, doesn’t it? Almost fun.
Well for the 2/3 of moms (and all you men) out there who haven’t experienced one, let me tell you that a C-section, by any name, is NOT fun. (In case you were under any impression that it was).
Lying strapped to an operating table in a cold room, paralyzed from the chest down, feeling a surgeon tugging on your abdomen (knowing that it’s with a sharp scalpel and they’re actually cutting you) is TERRIFYING.
Recovery is grueling.
But I did it.
And I deserve to OWN that.
I’m not going to downplay my bravery and toughness by telling people “oh, it wasn’t so bad – it was just a belly birth!”
I went through major surgery AND brought another human being into the world at the SAME time.
And that is an accomplishment that deserves to be commended, not trivialized.
3. I Want my Daughters to Know the Truth
There’s so much talk among parents about teaching kids proper names for body parts — for example, not using the term “wee-wee” for penis.
Some of the main arguments for using the real words for body parts, instead of nicknames:
- Helps children better understand their bodies
- Develops a positive image by showing that those parts are not “shameful” and can be openly discussed
So if I tell my girls that my cesarean delivery was simply a “belly birth,” then they have no concept of what actually happened. They also might think that the real term is “bad” and the procedure scary enough I needed to cover up what really happened.
What sense does that make?
A c-section, while not what I hoped or planned for, is a normal birth. It is nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide.
Ask my daughter how she got here and she’ll answer along these lines “the doctor cut your belly.” (I know because I just had my husband ask to check).
My daughter knows that she came from my belly, but she also knows that it wasn’t “magic.” And that is exactly how I want it to be.
Mama, you are a champ.
I want to make sure that it’s clear that this is my personal opinion.
If another mama out there decides that calling it a belly birth makes her feel better about having a c-section, then who am I to say otherwise? We have enough people out there trying to tell us what we should do and feel about childbirth that we need to support our fellow moms in their own experiences.
However, the term belly birth is not for me.
Yes, I had a c-section. No I didn’t want one.
I needed a c-section, and I don’t feel guilty about it. However, I don’t want to make it sound pleasant or easy or encourage any mom out there to get one unless it is literally an emergency or the last resort.
The US has one of the highest c-section rates in the world — while many are medically necessary, there are plenty of instances where they are caused by overly aggressive interventions or doctors push for them out of convenience. THAT is what I don’t want to normalize.
A c-section is serious business. And any mama who goes through one is a champ. We don’t need to pretend otherwise.
More from my pregnancy archives:
- Rookie Mistakes to Avoid with a Second Pregnancy
- How to Get a Free Baby Box (and why you should)
- 102 Things You Never Say to a Pregnant Woman
- 10 Ways to Naturally Induce Labor
- How to Relieve Itchy Skin after Pregnancy
- 15 Things to Do when You Find Out You’re Pregnant
- 10 Awesome Pregnancy Perks (You’ll Miss Later)
- 52 Things Couples Should Do Before Baby Arrives
- I Tried a Home Birth – Here’s Why I’ll Never Do it Again
- Gatorade Slushy Recipe - June 1, 2023
- 5 Hacks to Keep Produce Fresher Longer - May 31, 2023
- Frozen Hawaiian Punch Slush - May 30, 2023
I have yet to hear this term, but I agree with you 100%! If someone refers to my birth as a “belly birth” I will be sending them this post.
Thanks for the insights on that and I respect your reasons for not using the term, you make some great points. I don’t mind the term, though I haven’t used it much only because it uses the word birth because it is birth too. And people say vaginal birth so it’s the opposite. I guess the downplay of the seriousness of surgery can have cons as you have explained but i have anxiety about future surgeries so it helps me there that it sounds less scary. Love your blogs about c section stuff, really does help