The Pain of Birthing Cesarean

Jessica Latham Labor

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There is pain in birthing. And there is pain in birthing cesarean that one who has not experienced it simply cannot understand. Failure. Disappointment. The sense that a woman’s body was unsuccessful.

I still had hopes of opening myself the way women have for lifetimes. With over a thirty percent cesarean rate, some mothers accept their surgical birth quickly, but many others feel cheated, experience depression, guilt, loss of self-esteem and even posttraumatic stress disorder.

With kind intentions, I’ve often been told, as have fellow cesarean sisters, “At least your baby is healthy.” I want to cry. Of course! This is the reason we agree for the very core of ourselves to be cut open – the save the only life we can think of – our babies.

With each stitch, in our brokenness and hurt, we still whisper, I’ll protect you, I’ll be there for you, I’ll love you like none other. We spend our days feeding and tending to our little joys while our tummies silently seal and leave us with a numb scar of something dream-like from long ago.

I wasn’t clueless. Or was I? I took natural childbirth courses. I interviewed countless midwives and doulas. And then life stung its harsh lesson. I am not in control. We are not in control. Birth really can be dangerous and miraculous. Though in another realm, I remember the oxygen mask, the crimson spotted sheets, the days of labor and hours of pushing turned surgery.

So I say, yes, my baby is healthy. And so am I. I brought forth a blessing – and in our own tragic way, my son and I graciously learned the gift of life.


About the Author

Jessica Latham

Jessica Malone Latham’s writing has been featured in Brain, Child, Literary Mama,, Speak Mom and on NPR's local station. She has published various forms of Japanese poetry in numerous journals and anthologies. Learn more about Jessica’s work at and on .

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