When it comes to childbirth, the current trend is for women to deliver their babies as naturally as possible. Ideally, a “natural” birth means little to no pain medication, freedom from the tangle of IV lines and, possibly, also freedom from hospitals and doctors altogether. Some women are willing to go so far as to squat in a mountain stream to grunt their little kicker into the world.

But even for those of us who don’t wish to give birth in a shallow pool of algae, our biggest fear when it comes to childbirth is the dreaded C-section. When we draw up our birth plans, we are often unwilling to consider even the possibility of a C-section, in spite of the procedure being performed in approximately a third of all births in the US and Canada.

In those “birth share” conversations I’ve had with other moms, the stories of C-sections are always met with a “man, what a bummer” face and the storyteller feels compelled to offer an explanation as to how her body failed, i.e. why the procedure was unavoidable. I myself am quick to point out that my second child was born via C-section because she was breach and yes of course we tried All of the Things to try to get her to turn and I had every intention of having as natural a birth as possible, but my body failed me, what can I say?

My first baby was born the regular way, down the ol’ baby chute, so I’ve experienced birth both ways. And you wanna know a secret?

I LIKED THE C-SECTION BETTER. WAYYYYYY BETTER. In fact, if I had it all to do over again, I’d choose a C-section for both deliveries.

There. I said it. God, that feels good.

I hated vaginal delivery. I cannot think of one thing I liked about it other than that I could say I did it. Hurrah. Everything else sucked. I was in labor for over thirty hours. The pain, duh. I did get an epidural, but only after twenty hours of labor, and it wore off before it was time to push. My husband was every pathetic movie cliché you’ve ever seen. The room was filled with med students gaping in bug-eyed wonder at the miracle that was my spreading labia. And then my vagina exploded. I wish as much as you do that I were speaking figuratively, but sadly, no. I really mean my vagina exploded.

Afterwards, the med students hung around to watch a new resident attempt to sew me back up. (Fascinating! So much blood!) He bumbled so terribly that I screamed at the doctor to make him stop. (Under normal circumstances I am excessively polite.) My doctor finished the stitching and was very cheerful about the whole thing: “When I’m done you’ll be better than new!” Wink-wink at the husband. (What??)

That crazy doctor sewed me up way too tight. This translated to not being able to have sex with my husband for far longer than the prescribed six weeks, and when we finally did have sex, I cried through the whole thing. I think my husband and I were both traumatized.

c-section pic 3
This feels like jail.

Now that everyone’s ready to throw up, here’s how the C-section went:

I showed up to the hospital freshly showered, made-up and blow-dried. I know; who cares what you look like when we’re talking about the miracle of childbirth? But I felt pretty, okay? I feel it’s worth mentioning.

I was shaking like a jackhammer from nerves (mainly because I was feeling so mortified about not giving birth the “right” way), but I can’t compare a little anxiety with the ring of fire, or even a contraction that is a number “7” on that stupid pain chart with the emoticons. I’ll take the anxiety any day.

One of my primary fears with the C-section (in addition to feeling like a failure as a woman) was that I wouldn’t bond with this baby the way I had with my first. Bullshit. I fell in love the instant they yanked her out of my guts and showed me her sweet pink face. I did have to wait a little longer to have her all to myself, as they were cleaning her up and giving me time to recover, but when they brought her to me, I did the same thing I did with the first kid: I began the task of teaching her to rip my nipples off for the foreseeable future. She latched on just as well as my firstborn, and I loved her just as much.

Recovery had its difficult moments, but for me, it was easier than recovery from vaginal birth. I was up and walking in a few days, and my husband and I were able to have sex much quicker than the first time around, and without me whimpering like a maimed puppy. (Score! Literally!)

So, for those who hope to give birth in the future and are already feeling that ridiculous twinge of guilt/fear that they might become a member of that dreaded 33% of women whose bodies “fail” them; for those who are terrified of natural birth and secretly would rather a C-section (these ladies are judged the most harshly); and for the women who’ve already had a C-section and are harboring feelings of guilt and inadequacy because of their perceived failure; to those women, I say:

Screw natural childbirth!

Having a C-section does not make you a failure. Wanting a C-section does not make you a failure. I think most of us C-section ladies are hesitant to admit it—because of the stigma surrounding birth via C-section—but I bet there are tons of us who feel this way. Regardless of which path that baby takes out of your body, let’s all agree on one thing: Shame should have no part in it.

c-section pic

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This post originally appeared on BLUNTmoms.

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  1. My oldest was an unscheduled C and came out looking like Beldar from the Coneheads, so HELLZ YEAH I scheduled my youngest baby’s C-section when it was time. The healing process was something I was familiar with and I didn’t have to have pain when I peed in my vajayjay. Make no mistake, I’ll never have another baby, but if I decided to lose my mind and have one, I’d do it by C-section.

  2. I think a c-section is only better if it is scheduled; I had one after being in labor for 15 hours and even though I had the operation, my vaginal area was still wrecked thanks to having doctors and residents pulling and stretching at everything to help the delivery along.

    Four years later, I have had pelvic floor therapy and sex is still either numb (at best) or painful to the point of inducing tears. I’ve pursued counseling as well to address the issue from multiple angles, and have yet to find any kind of breakthrough. In an effort not to alienate my spouse, I do what I can to be convincing; I am very grateful that he understands what is going on and is supportive no matter what. I can’t shake the feeling of being broken, however.

    So get a C-section if you can schedule it, otherwise you deal with a host of problems anyway.

    • I am so sorry you’ve been through this! That is absolutely awful. I hope you can find a way to get past this. 🙁

    • Also Anon.

      Agreed. I had both – a natural delivery and then an emergency C after some labor. Being put under general anesthesia did a number on my body and I ended up back in the ER one week after the C section with very painful “issues” (I’ll spare readers the details). I still had post-birth vaginal issues because of the original labor (though nowhere near 15 hours) so it was like dealing with the worst of both worlds. That being said, my recovery from the C – otherwise – was preferable. My experience with “natural” childbirth was horrifying, and I could care less how much everyone pushes for the “beauty” in it. It was horribly painful, had unplanned complications, lots of “aftermath damage” (45 minutes of stitching tears under a morphine drip, since no timely epidural)…yeah, I appreciate when women are all about the homebirth and crowning glory (no pun intended) of bringing a baby into the world, but I hated most moments of pregnancy and childbirth, yet I’m pretty sure I love my children as much as everyone else from the moment they took their first breath…so does it really matter when all is said and done? 🙂

  3. I once read an article that said a large number of obstetrical nurses would chose a c-section over vaginal birth because there is so much less soft-tissue damage and weakening of the pelvic floor muscles.

    • Not surprising. I still bow down to women who do it all natural, it is just NOT, no way, no how, for me. 😉

    • I am an labor nurse and whoever said that is NOT speaking for any OB nurse I have ever known. Your risk of death and permanent scarring for c section, stroke risks, uterine rupture, infection, risk of hysterectomy….all increase with sections.

  4. Excellent post.
    Please delete if would prefer I don’t mention this here, but I think that you (and possibly other readers) might be interested in a book I co-wrote called:

    Choosing Cesarean, A Natural Birth Plan (2012 Prometheus Books, New York)

    Thanks again!

    • I am seeing more and more of this. Women who, for whatever personal reason, choose to forgo the pain of childbirth altogether. =)

  5. Stephanie

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I elected for a c section for my son. So many people were judgemental of my decision. It was a wonderful experience and if we have another child, I will have another c section. My son was 9lbs so I really glad I went with the c section!

  6. Brittany P

    I am so glad I read this. I gave birth after being induced because of preeclampsia and other complications we’re just now understanding. The nurses were awful, the epi didn’t help, my body was shutting down to where i went blind and couldn’t communicate. They “graciously allowed” me to do a “practice push” at 9cm, and I have no idea where the strength came from other than the fact that i was DONE. He was only 6lbs but I ended up with a ton of stitches.
    18 months later it still feels like an awful, traumatic experience that (may not have caused) but definitely didn’t help my pp depression. I’ve always thought that a birthing center or home birth would be the way to avoid all of that…but after the article, I’m rethinking it. I might be a perfect elective c section candidate.
    Thanks for writing it!

  7. I had both of my sons via c-section and I wouldn’t do it any other way. Well, mostly because of the narrow hips issue. The first time I tried the natural way with all the drugs they offered me. But to no avail. It was c-section city for me. So the second time I just scheduled a C, walked myself into the OR and got it done, easy peasy. I’ve heard women complain about how tough the recovery was, and I realize everybody goes through their own set of circumstances, but I really didn’t think it was that bad. And considering what I’ve heard about episiotomies, I’ll take the c-section, thanks. Great piece, Kristen! I agree 150%.

  8. I had c-sections with both my kids and I admit that I’ve always felt like I missed out on something by not being able to have a vaginal birth. My first was breech and I wanted to do a VBAC with my second but at 41 weeks I wasn’t even dilated. I felt like a failure. I’ve even felt uncomfortable saying that I “gave birth” because I didn’t do anything but lay there (other than provide a safe haven for 9 months). This really makes me feel better! I guess every birthing experience is precious even if it’s not what we imagined.

  9. I’m right there with you!!! Screw v-births, I don’t need to experience it to consider myself a woman. The csection was cake walk and I love being able to get up immediately after the spinal wore off and be me and not in pain. I also say F a backs. All c- sections in my future baby world!!!

  10. Catherine

    Great article! Thank you! Before I was pregnant with my first child, I knew I would have a c-section. My first question to the OB group I saw was to ensure they would perform an elective one. They agreed, and ultimately did. I spent the entire pregnancy searching for reasons not to, as everyone seemed to think I was crazy. Except my husband, who knew me well and is quite squeamish! I have since come to believe one of the OBs in the practice tried to cause me to go into labor by stripping my membranes early. (I was ignorant and had no idea what was happening until much much later.). No luck. Delivery as scheduled. Later had another one for twins. The second one went even more smoothly. Different practice in different city. And he advised against a vaginal delivery due to the twins and the previous c-section.

    I cannot express how delighted I am that I had c-sections. And am saddened to hear that insurance companies are starting to refuse coverage for an elective one.

  11. Christina

    Finally, someone says it! I LOVED my C-section!

  12. I so identify with this… I am a first time mommy and I was in labor for 20 hours with practically zero dilation. My water had to be broken and I opted for epidural which stopped working while pains progressed to end stage labor. It is then that my OB GYN decided to do a C-sec. I was so glad that the ordeal was over. I had a quick recovery though the antibiotics for recovery have eroded my stomach lining :(. Often I wonder if natural would have been better. Secretly I am glad I’m an elective C-sec case for the future:)

  13. Thank you for posting! I had a planned c section for my first due to him being breeched – no real choice there and I came to terms with my “loss” and going that way but secretly I was thrilled. I could never picture giving birth vaginally. With my second, I felt I had to defend my choice to go repeat section. And the kicker – I went into labor 2 hours before I was supposed to go in for my scheduled time!! Given the opportunity to labor I still chose the c section it just happened earlier. I was thoroughly judged by the nurses and staff but my doctor was very supportive. I am so tired of that look of the loss we have in this type of delivery – I abosolutley agree, I bonded instantly with both kids and my hospital did skin to skin in the OR! No regrets here and I feel I always need to bring to the conversation – C section, not the worst thing in the world! Still get your beautiful baby.

    Thanks for posting.

  14. I had five children all natural and it was very easy for all five and I even went home twenty-fours after I had my children

  15. It is nice to read this. I’ve only had
    c-sections so I can’t compare but my guilt does linger even though I know its ridiculous. My 1st was an emergency section and when my 2nd was breech (and not flipping) the doctor wouldn’t consider VBAC. I was secretly relieved I wanted another c-section but I didn’t share that information. It is so silly that I still feel, all these years later, that something was missing from their births. Intellectually I know it’s ridiculous but posts like these are a good reminder.

  16. I’m pretty sure (and by pretty sure, I mean I’m hoping) with my lower back history, I won’t be able to deliver naturally and should just plan on scheduling a c-section when I decide to procreate…

    And as far as having sex sooner? That’s how I ended up with an Irish twin brother (10 months and 2 days younger than me).

  17. Meredith

    wow, loving your blog and all your entries totally on point. Funny, intelligent and thoughtful…. until this one. I sincerely hope that no one reads this and this influences their decision on how to give birth.