Vanity Fair recently reported that sources close to the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, revealed she told friends that her natural birth was "perfect." And by "perfect," she meant she had no complications and she was able to stick to her birth plan. For some reason, though, that description of perfection really stood out to me as odd—on so many levels.
Really, let's be honest. Yes, the act of having a baby is a miracle. The big picture is a beautiful one; you're creating life, specifically, you're creating the person you'll love the most in the world. But when you look at the small details, even if everything goes off without a hitch, pregnancy isn't exactly a walk in the park, and childbirth is hard, exhausting work and can be really disgusting (like no one tells you that you can actually poop while pushing during delivery. I didn't even know that was a possibility until friends who'd gone through it asked me if I had. For the record, as far as I know, I did not!).
Also, what if there are complications and you have to have an emergency c-section (about 30 percent of women have either a planned or emergency c-section)? I'm sure Kate was not trying to make any grand statements about natural childbirth being more perfect than surgically-assisted births, but it could be taken that way, and another Kate—Kate Winslet—did get into hot water for outright suggesting natural childbirth is superior. After having her second child, Kate Winslet, who is now pregnant with her third, revealed in New York's Gotham magazine that she had lied for years about having her daughter Mia vaginally when she actually had an emergency c-section. "I just said that I had a natural birth because I was so completely traumatized by the fact that I hadn't given birth," she told Gotham. "I felt like a complete failure. There's this thing amongst women that if you can handle childbirth you can handle anything. I had never handled childbirth and I felt like in some way I couldn't enter the 'powerful women's club.' It was an amazing feeling having Joe naturally. Fourteen hours with no drugs at all, but then I had to have an epidural because I was so tired. It was an incredible birth. It was really triumphant."
Reading that really upset me, because I don't think women should be made to feel that the only way or "the right way" to have a baby is if she delivers vaginally. So many women I know who've had c-sections already feel a sense of guilt, as if they did something wrong, or they just weren't woman enough. This insanity should not be perpetuated. Childbirth is not a competition. Whether you choose to have an epidural or not is your business. If a cesarean section is needed in order to have a healthy delivery, do it without second thought! No one has the right to judge you. And remember that the end result is still the same: you're taking home a beautiful baby, and any way you do it is "perfect" in my book! Don't let anyone take that amazing feeling away from you.
TELL US: Have you or someone you know had c-section guilt?
Image of Kate Middleton and Prince William courtesy of the British Monarchy's Twitter page.