Cesarean section. Two words that come together to form a surgical term that is sterile and pretty emotionless. That's why some mothers say it's a poor way to describe one of the most emotional experiences possible.

There is power in language, and some women say there is a two-word phrase that much more accurately describes the experience. They call it 'belly birth.'

Yes, C-sections are surgery, but when we describe them in surgical terms we erase the fact that they are also a form of birth. That's why Flor Cruz, the birth doula behind the popular @badassmotherbirther accounts, counts herself among the women who are renaming and reclaiming birth experiences that happen to occur in operating rooms. She says the surgical nature of the term "C-section" perpetuates the idea that such births are not "real" births


"We take away the celebrating of a birth of a baby and mom's hard work because the stigma cues us to immediately frown," she tells Motherly. "It screams 'medical procedure' and does not prioritize that a birth happened. 'Belly birth' includes birth. It speaks positively."

Jordan Grissom, a client of Cruz's, understands first hand the power of reframing a birth experience through language. In 2016, after 20 hours of labor she was advised she would need an emergency C-section to deliver her daughter. Prior to that day, a C-section wasn't on Grissom's radar. She hadn't really thought much about it when planning for her birth, as she didn't want to put it out into the universe as an option. Suddenly, the birth experience she'd expected was no longer an option, and that was terrifying.

"I was wheeled into this bright room. No one was talking to me. It was freezing. My husband had to wait outside. I was absolutely terrified," Grissom tells Motherly. "I was so scared and it was my doula, Flor, who came and told me, 'you know what Jordan? You need to look at this as a belly birth. It's not a failure, it's still a birth. Just because you're not birthing your baby vaginally doesn't mean you're any less of a mother or that your birth is any less of a birth.' That was really what got me through my belly birth and it really empowered me."

Cruz says she first started using the term 'belly birth' occasionally few years ago, recognizing that people can be "triggered positively or negatively by words" and that saying belly birth is a lot "gentler, kinder, [and] inclusive" than saying C-section.

"I didn't use it very often up until around a year ago. I started using it more heavily and purposefully once I realized that a big reason why I felt so down about my own belly birth was that I was calling it something that felt so cold to me. The word 'cesarean' or 'C-section' felt like just a procedure. It wasn't connecting me to the fact that I gave birth. I started plugging it into my vocabulary vigorously," she explains.

Cruz wants other women to be able to skip the disconnection she felt and embrace their births from the get-go by using celebratory terms, because "a large amount of families have belly births." Indeed, a recent Instagram poll by Motherly found about 41% of participants had experienced a C-section.

According to the CDC, almost 32% of all births in America are C-sections. In Canada, the rate is just under 29%, and the UK sees a similar rate. With this kind of birth being so common, there should not be a stigma, say advocates.

Cruz and Grissom suggest changing the language so that birth is recognized first in a woman's experience. The surgery is secondary to the welcoming of a child and is certainly not an indication of failure. Depending on the medical circumstance, there are all kinds of things that can be done to help women own their birth experience, even if it's different from the one they'd initially imagined.

Many hospitals now offer the option of clear surgical drapes (instead of the standard opaque blue) to allow women to witness the moment their child comes into the world. When combined with peaceful, or mother-assisted delivery techniques, this is often called a "gentle C-section."

"You can ask for a maternal assisted delivery where you see the birth and pull your own baby to your chest. You can ask for skin to skin immediately. You can ask for no severing of the cord, delaying clamping of the cord or milking of the cord. You can breastfeed immediately. You can bond on another level. You can call it a belly birth," Cruz explains.

As Cruz says, there is power in language, and by renaming and reframing their experience, these mothers are taking back their power and empowering the mamas who will follow.

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Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:

Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking. Late Wednesday night news broke that Rivera was missing and presumed drowned after her 4-year-old son, Josey, was found floating alone on a rented boat on Lake Piru in Ventura County, California.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Ventura County Sheriff's Department Capt. Eric Buschow said the mother and her preschooler were swimming near the boat Wednesday afternoon. Josey got back into the rented boat after the swim but his mother did not. The preschooler was later found by other boaters, sleeping alone in the boat. Rescuers were able to figure out who he was because Rivera's wallet and identification were on the boat.


Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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