This Beautiful Image Shows a Side of Pregnancy That No One Talks About

Last week, photographer Helen Carmina uploaded a Facebook photo that started a dialogue about C-sections and pregnancy. The picture shows a baby nestled below his/her mother's C-section scar, racking up more than 220,000 likes and over 65,000 shares on Facebook:


EDIT: I didn't expect this image to reach so far. I understand everyone has their own opinion which they are entitled...

Posted by Helen Carmina Photography on Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A fan went on to send this image to Carmina in support of the photograph:


One lovely mama from way across the pond just sent me this and I think it sums up completely what a lot of us need to remember......thank you Victoria Secret-Garden ❤️

Posted by Helen Carmina Photography on Sunday, August 16, 2015

Because of the massive attention the photo received, Carmina edited the caption to urge the commenters to be kind.

"I didn't expect this image to reach so far. I understand everyone has their own opinion which they are entitled to, all I ask is that comments are not rude or hurtful and are kept respectful."

Carmina recalled how fearful the pregnant woman she photographed was about undergoing a C-section.

"I photographed this mama's pregnancy a while back and she was telling me how terrified she was of having a c-section," she wrote. "Well last week she went into labor but had to have an emergency c-section after complications. She asked me to come over this morning and shoot this particular image as her worst nightmare proved to be what saved her and her child's lives."

Though most of the comments are positive, someone reported the image for being inappropriate, Camina wrote in the comments thread. Facebook, which has a policy against certain nude images, ultimately did not to remove the photo.

The continued stigma surrounding C-section births

In the U.S., nearly 33 percent of babies are born via C-section, yet the stigma surrounding this fairly common method remains alive and well. Unlike vaginal births, C-sections leave a scar on the mother's belly that oftentimes keeps them from wanting to flaunt their stomach or wear certain items of clothing in public.

After her own C-section delivery, Altrichia Cook created a line of swimsuits that specializes in hiding C-section scars, as many moms express discomfort bearing these scars on the beach or at the pool:

“As I have grown, I get so many thank you emails of women thanking me,” Cook, who goes by A.Lekay, previously told BuzzFeed. “One instance, a customer told me that she hadn’t worn a two-piece swimsuit in over 20 years.”

Earlier this summer, writer Rebecca Gruber noted that some women have C-sections to prevent pregnancy complications and deliver healthy, happy babies. This, she wrote, should be celebrated, and yet so many people judge mothers for undergoing C-sections rather than just be happy the child had a healthy delivery. Some mothers also have no choice but to deliver via C-section, yet they still face backlash afterward. Gruder wrote:

"[E]ven though a third of all US babies are born via surgery these days, there's still a stigma attached to it. Some women's C-sections are emergencies, occurring after hours (sometimes days) of labor. Some are planned well in advance, and some, like my first, just happen ... [C]an't we agree that if you have a healthy baby in your arms, you didn't do anything wrong and you don't have anything to apologize for? I shouldn't have to wear a scarlet letter — and neither should my kids — for giving birth to a healthy child. Because when our kids are on the playground together, can you look at them and distinguish how each was born?"

Four years ago, a woman named Kirstie Allsopp told The Telegraph that she had two C-sections and felt many women are perceived as failures for not having a natural childbirth.

"I suspect giving birth naturally is one of the most life-enhancing experiences you can have if it goes well," she said. "That's the dream, but for a quarter of women it is not the reality, and we need to make sure they don't feel like a failure. Because there are people who feel so passionately about what is known as a 'natural birth', and seem so against Caesareans, it can seem like there is very little middle ground."

Even with the stigma, some moms are just relieved to have healthy offspring. Writer Stefanie Wilder-Taylor noted in a piece for Modern Mom regarding her own C-section, "I have three beautiful, healthy girls and only the tiniest of scars on my belly to mark my decision. I love that scar. It’s my battle wound and it shows me what my body is for. And that, is the only thing that counts."