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This essay is part three of a series on birth. Read more about unmedicated childbirth, epidural births and more. You’ve got this.


As a birth photographer, I’m asked to capture some of the most important stories of a family’s life. I step into their birthing space and document the small and big moments that unfold. I tell the story of their son or daughter’s entrance into the world. The struggle, the fear, the pain, the joy.

These stories are beautiful stories.

But in the world of social media, I often see just one type of birth story held up as the ideal: an unmedicated vaginal birth (ideally at home, in the water), where a beautiful woman labors peacefully and then clutches a just-born baby to her chest. As a birth photographer, I’ve captured some of these births, and yes, they are beautiful.

But I’ve also seen beauty in other places. I’ve also found immense inspiration at births that take place in the hospital and in the operating room.

Cesarean births are beautiful births, and they require immense strength and bravery.

In the moments leading up to surgery, a cesarean mother must hold onto the strong and fierce love she has for her baby.  She lets fear wash over her... and then she lets it drift away. Although she knows a cesarean birth is the best choice for her, she also knows she’ll endure major surgery with real wounds and scars.

Some women have weeks to mentally prepare for a cesarean, but many have just days, hours or minutes. Suddenly, everything she envisioned when meeting her child has changed: the room she’ll be in, the position she’ll be in, who will be surrounding her. We humans don’t tend to do well in situations of sudden change. And yet these brave women find a way to let go of their pride and connect with an inner strength that allows them to enter the operating room and give birth to their child.

And then the actual surgery happens. The actual cutting and suturing. Full recovery often takes months. And while most of us would like to curl up with a bowl of ice cream and a stack of movies after a major surgery, C-section mothers do just the opposite: they nurture and love and bond with their needy, beautiful babies.

Emotionally and physically, these women are SO strong. And this strength isn’t just necessary on delivery day; this strength must endure in the weeks and months and years ahead—as their bodies and souls heal, crafting new dreams with their little ones in their arms.

Becoming a mother leaves all of us with scars. Some of them are emotional, some of them are physical. C-section mothers often have both. And yet their scars are powerful reminders of the bravery and fortitude they possessed when bringing their children into the world. These scars mark the door their children passed through as they left one world for the next. These scars are beautiful and worth celebrating.

Image by Monet Nicole

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