Cesarean Section Awareness and Appreciation


April is Cesarean Awareness month. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), cesarean birth is the delivery of a baby through surgical incisions made in the abdomen and uterus. 

Here in the US, one in three babies are born by cesarean birth. However, there is still a stigma around surgical birth. As a two-time cesarean section mom, I am here to shed some light on surgical birth and address some of the ongoing bias, by bringing awareness and acceptance through education. 

I am in full support of reducing the rate of unnecessary cesarean sections, which is one goal of this month of awareness. According to the World Health Organization, rates of surgical birth higher than 10 percent are not typically associated with reduction in maternal and newborn mortality rates. However, they do admit in their policy statement that cesarean births are effective in saving maternal and infant lives, when used for medically indicated reasons. 

According to ACOG, women birth babies via cesarean section for a number of medically indicated and medically necessary reasons. These include failure to progress in labor, fetal distress, being pregnant with multiples, placental problems, baby being large for gestational age and breech presentation of baby, among others. 

When I was preparing for the birth of my first child, I spent a lot of time learning how to prepare my mind and body for a non-surgical birth. I read books, listened to countless hours of podcasts and even completed a fairly extensive birth course. For all of the time I spent educating myself and preparing for a non-surgical birth, I spent very little time preparing myself for a possible cesarean birth. 

I will preface this next part by saying that I am in full support of ALL types of births, as long as they are safe for the mother and the baby. Unfortunately, there still seems to be a lot of negativity surrounding the topic of cesarean births. Although I think the intention is mostly pure (reducing unnecessary cesareans), the outcome of this rhetoric can leave moms feeling like their bodies have failed them if they do go on to have a surgical birth. 

I say this based on my own experience, coupled with my experience of working with many mothers over the years who have birthed their babies in all the ways possible. There is a certain way of thinking pushed on mothers that our bodies “are made” to birth babies “naturally,” which places undue pressure on mothers.

Mothers are often made to feel that if they prepare their bodies and minds properly, they are guaranteed to achieve certain birth outcomes. However, as many women have discovered, births don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, natural/unmedicated births turn into medicated births; and sometimes those births end in surgical births. And those surgical births can be beautiful too; as well as life-saving. 

I bring this (controversial) topic up because I believe my initial personal subscription to the belief that my body was “made for” birthing a baby “naturally” left me ill-prepared for a surgical birth, both physically and mentally. This was a choice I made and looking back, I would have done things differently. I wish I would have prepared my heart, body and mind better for all of the possible scenarios and outcomes. I wish I would have gone into my first birthing experience with a much more open mind, knowing what I know now. 

For me, a medical condition ultimately led to an unplanned cesarean birth for my first baby. My second baby was a planned cesarean birth (also medically necessary). I am forever grateful for two healthy babies and two safe deliveries, thanks in large part to having access to wonderful OB doctors, a wonderful hospital, and yes, two surgical births. 

After my first birth, not only was I faced with healing physically from a surgical birth (which took much longer and was more painful than initially anticipated), but also healing mentally. Although it was absolutely the safest way to get my girl into this world, it took many months of talking about my birthing experience, accepting her birth story and reconceptualizing the experience to not only come to terms with her birth story, but also to get to a place of full acceptance, and even gratitude. 

I share this very personal story because I wish I would have read more stories like this before I gave birth the first time. If you are pregnant and reading this, I encourage you to be open to all possibilities and make your personal health and safety, and that of your baby, a priority. If you are currently recovering (physically and/or mentally) from a traumatic or surgical birth, and your birth didn’t go as planned, I encourage you to talk about it and write about it. Keep processing it until you get to that place of acceptance and gratitude for what your body did. 

Cesarean birth is not the “easy way out.” This type of birth takes a mental and physical toll on the body, much like non-surgical births do. A surgical birth can be a beautiful, safe and sometimes necessary way to birth a baby. In my case, my surgical births were medically necessary and allowed me to meet my babies safely in the OR. I even got to experience a golden hour with each of my babies on my chest in the OR, immediately after they were born. They never left my side from the time we made it to recovery, until we left the hospital. It was far from easy, but I am forever grateful for my two cesarean births.

To read more about cesarean section details, risks, complications and recovery, please visit the ACOG website.

Have you had a cesarean section? What was your experience like?

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Heather Blanton Burns
Heather Blanton Burns lives in Columbia with her husband and daughter. Natives of South Carolina, they love taking road trips to visit family, as well as spending time at the lakes, beaches and mountains nearby. Heather is a Board Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Certified Gentle Sleep Coach. She received her undergraduate degree from the College of Charleston and her doctoral degree from the Medical University of South Carolina. She cares for children of all ages at a small pediatric practice locally. She founded a small business, Cultivating Bright Futures, in 2020 to support mothers through education and provide encouragement for mothers at every step along their motherhood journey. When she’s not working, Heather enjoys reading, spending quality time with family and friends, staying involved in the community through Junior League, eating delicious food at local restaurants, checking out local events in Columbia and staying active through walking, yoga and barre.


  1. I have had 3 C sections. First was due to preeclampsia and footling breech presentation and after that I had 2 more. I guess my second could have been a VBAC but I chose c section. My babies were all just fine. No NICU and etc. I do have surgical adhesions as a result. Either my baby or I or both would have died the first time. There is a reason people died in childbirth at such high rates in the past. C sections save a lot of lives.


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