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In The New York Times, Rebecca Jamison Reflects on Her C-Section and the Idea of "Birth"

We're spotlighting Leslie Jamison's lengthy, personal reflection on her C-section experience, emphasizing her conflicted understanding of what it means to "give birth."


Part of our mission on this site is to deconstruct the word, “mother,” to reexamine the meaning of motherhood and what it means to mother. Our past and current culture prizes what it often defines as “natural” when it comes to mothering. A “natural” mother is most often considered to be a biologically born “woman” who gives birth to a child, “naturally,” of course. (Consider all whom this definition excludes: adoptive parents, foster parents, many gay parents, grandparents, all men, and those who do not “have” their own child but do other mothering.) Leslie Jamison, in “The Imperial Cut: A Personal History of the C-Section” examines her own doubts that she is a “real” mother because her daughter was born by C-Section.

She examines the history of the C-Section, her own experience, and the idea that she never really experienced a “true birth.”

“Even now, three and a half years later, I still feel a pang when I hear women use the phrase “natural childbirth” or describe pushing out their babies after 40 hours of labor. Imagining all that effort inspires a deep awe but also a splinter of shame — as if my own birth story wasn’t one that merited pride or celebration but was instead a kind of blemish, a beginning from which my daughter and I must recover.”

Read Jamison's piece in The New York Times here.


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