A mum is baring all in a powerful photograph to reduce the ‘stigma’ and ‘shame’ around having a c-section after being told she ‘took the easy way out’.
Gillian Andes, 23, from Phoenix City, Alabama, USA, proudly reveals the four-inch-scar that helped to bring five-month-old Piper, who is balanced on her knee, and three-year-old Lola into the world.
After being criticised for delivering her children through caesarean she decided to post empowering images online to show others they ‘no less of a woman’.
She was forced to give birth through c-section for a second time, after her incision started rupture during her 28-hour labour with Piper that could have killed them both.
Since then, the stay-at-home parent has been determined to champion the cause and reduce the shame some mums feel for not giving birth vaginally.
Gillian said: “I feel like women who have had a C-section can feel like they are ‘less of a woman’ and like they took an ‘easy way out’.
“I was told that by multiple people online with my first baby, at first I was afraid to tell them because I knew about the stigma.
“It’s seen that you’re less of a mom because you delivered through C-section and that your body failed you.
“For my second child I went in with the mindset that it doesn’t matter how my baby comes out, as long as we are both alive that’s the end goal.
“I laboured for 28 hours without medicine. There was a risk to vaginal-delivery because I previously had a c-section, I started showing signs of rupturing, which could have ended in death for me and my baby.
“Later, when I posted the picture, I had a feeling some of the comments would happen so was mentally prepared for it, but there wasn’t as much hate as I thought.
“My husband took the pictures that show my daughter lying on my legs. Showing your C-section scar is such a taboo that I wanted to expose it.
“Piper was four-weeks-old at the time and the scar had not totally healed, so there were still some openings. I wanted it to be raw, vulnerable and to show that C-sections are not easy.
“I really don’t mind the c-section scar, I can’t see anything in a bathing suit and even if I could, my body did what it had to, so that I could bring two beautiful humans into this world.
“I wear that, my stretchmarks and everything that comes with being a mom with pride.
“Your body changes with that, I try to wear it proudly and I have two healthy children from it so I’m happy with that.”
Gillian posted the first image in December last year, posing with her daughter strewn over her leg and revealing her scar – in images taken by her 25-year-old husband Shawn.
Since then she has posted several more photographs that have received a mixture of responses, but she maintains the majority are positive and supportive of her message.
She has started a blog to further point out her views about motherhood, birth and more.
Gillian said: “I received a lot of support from people, there were some pretty hateful comments but 80% was positive.
“Some people asked why I took a picture like that as when my daughter grows up she will think it’s nasty and other things like that.
“Before posting I believed everybody would have a negative opinion but who can argue about loving yourself and anyone who does isn’t looking any deeper than the picture.
“I try to be honest, raw and vulnerable in any posts I do, even when it’s not about a C-section and instead talking about being a human, woman, mother and stay at home mom.”
Gillian believes that the shaming around having a c-section needs to stop and that mothers should be empowering one another instead.
She added: “Moms are their own hardest critics, so even if one woman benefitted from what I wanted to say about self-love that makes it all worth it.
“I have two girls, I don’t want them to be raised by a mom who looks down on herself based on what society thinks.
“More women need to hear some of the hard things that come with being a mom or a parent in general.”
Follow her blog: https://chatswithgil.wordpress.com/