This article originally appeared on Health.com.
Imagine having to deliver your baby in one of the most traumatic ways possible—after 38 hours of labor and an emergency cesarean section, during which your child is pulled out of a hastily made incision in your abdomen in order to save his life. Imagine having to recover as that incision heals, on top of caring for a newborn.
Now imagine someone saying to you, “Oh. A c-section? So you didn’t actually give birth. It must have been nice to take the easy way out like that.”
That’s the experience that prompted Facebook user Raye Lee to write a “long, dramatic post” on social media last week that’s since gone viral. Her post, which describes in excruciating detail (including photos) her unexpected C-section and its aftermath, has received more than 40,000 likes, loves, and sad reactions; been shared more than 23,000 times; and has been blogged about by everyone from Scary Mommy to the BBC.
“I now belong to a badass tribe of mamas with the scar to prove that I had a baby cut out of me and lived to tell the tale. ( because you can die from this, you know. ),” she wrote, addressing the person (or people) who questioned the legitimacy of C-sections as a means of “actually” giving birth.
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Raye Lee also described the challenges she faced after leaving the hospital, and reminded readers about the toll this type of surgery can take on the body. “You use your core muscles for literally everything… even sitting down,” she wrote. “Imagine not being able to use them because they have literally been shredded and mangled by a doctor and not being able to repair them for 6+ weeks because your body has to do it naturally.”
The fact that women who undergo C-sections—either by choice or because of an emergency in the delivery room—receive this type of criticism isn’t particularly surprising; after all, people have all kinds of opinions about the right way to conceive, deliver, and raise kids that don’t belong to them.
But given that one in three babies are now born this way, isn’t it about time we, as society, put this myth to rest? If Raye Lee’s post isn’t convincing enough, the statistics also show that C-sections are not the “easy way out” by any means.
Studies have found that women who deliver via C-section are more likely to need blood transfusions and be admitted to intensive care units, and are more likely to need C-sections for future pregnancies. Among other reasons, that’s why experts are aiming to curb overuse of the surgery for moms who don’t really need it.
But an important thing to remember, experts agree, is that there is no guaranteed safest or best way of delivery for all women; in every case, that decision should depend on the mother’s preference, her and her baby’s risk factors, and a host of other considerations.
Hopefully, Raye Lee’s brave post will bring attention to the less-talked-about aspects of C-sections, and reduce some of the unfortunate stigma and misconceptions surrounding the procedure. Because no matter how you look at it, giving birth is giving birth. Never mind the scar, she’s got the baby to prove it.