However a stunning image by Guernsey-based photographer Helen Carmina is making people rethink their C-section views — and it's about time.
Carmina — who is due to give birth herself any day now — admits that she had no idea the photograph, shared on her Facebook page, would attract so much attention.
It's easy to see why it has. It's an intimate, beautiful, inspiring picture that perfectly encapsulates what a C-section birth is.
As a mum who has given birth by C-section I consider myself more than qualified to give my opinion on this. (If you haven't, then sorry, but you just aren't.) My C-section was planned — not an emergency Caesarean like the mother in the photo had — so I had time to prepare myself for it. Even so I was just as anxious as I was in the lead-up to my other birth experience, which happened to be a vaginal delivery.
It's impossible to compare the two experiences but what I can say is this: for all their differences, they were both challenging, painful, at times traumatic, completely surreal and, above all, life-affirming.
After my C-section I was fascinated with my scar. At first I was scared to look at it. (I imagined a gaping wound, oozing with all sorts of unspeakable substances.) Gradually I took pride in watching it heal, while marvelling that this was the opening through which my daughter entered the world. Even when it brought tears to my eyes — if I moved too quickly, or sneezed, or laughed, or coughed — I felt empowered, knowing that this pain had a purpose. For me the best purpose in the world.
Images like Helen Carmina's are so encouraging to new mothers who have to give birth by emergency section. It's not the birth experience they would have hoped for and it's one that requires great strength — mental as well as physical.
How ever a woman gives birth it's not a gentle experience. In many cases it leaves scars. Mums should wear those scars with pride.
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