Is Birth a Competition?

By Amy L. Peine

Lately, I’ve been noticing a disturbing trend on my Facebook newsfeed: As more of my friends become mothers, I’ve noticed an influx of posted memes with images of 1950s style housewives with captions such as, “Don’t let this face fool you, I delivered a baby without drugs and will snap you like a twig.” There has also been a new movement of shaming women who have cesarean deliveries, whether planned or not, with a call to “cover up your shame” and not wear bikinis that show cesarean scars. This is, in my mind, another ploy to pit women against each other.

As a mother myself, I know that any decisions made regarding labor and delivery were made with the best information I had, the best options I had, and were made for the best interest of my child. Mothers, especially first time mothers, often already question everything they do and doubt every decision they make as mothers because—surprise—despite everyone’s willingness to share their opinions, there truly isn’t a fool proof way to parent. These Facebook posts, images, and captions reproduce the message to women that we aren’t good enough, that the decisions we made or make—or even the decisions that were made for us in terms of emergency deliveries—aren’t good enough. Decisions to get pregnant, to proceed with pregnancy, how/when to deliver children, and whether to parent or opt for adoption are all a woman’s choice. To judge women for these decisions and to try and prove ourselves in some made up competition belittles our strength, courage, and sacrifice.

A woman’s decisions about delivery (naturally, with the assistance of medication, cesarean, home-birth, water, etc.) does not make her any better or any worse of a mother. These messages, whether intended or not, have the dangerous potential of being internalized. We don’t need these “jokes.” We don’t need the excuse of these “jokes” as a way to attempt to prove ourselves because here’s the truth: No matter what life path you have chosen, no matter how you choose to continue it, no matter how you may have delivered your children – YOU ARE AMAZING. You are a powerful, unique, beautiful human being and no one has the right to try and imply that your decisions are somehow less. Your decisions are yours and yours alone. Everyone’s story and journey is different. Let’s not continue to find trivial things to drive wedges between each other. Let’s search for common ground and support each other’s journeys.

“Everyone’s story and journey is different” Tweet this quote!

I may have been incredibly medicated through my cesarean birth, but I’d still snap you like a twig, too.

A woman with a past and a passion, Amy Lee Peine has been telling the story of her past and her healing journey to help break the silence of sexual assault for over a decade. A mother, wife, ex-exotic dancer, and survivor of childhood sexual abuse, two rapes and a third assault, she knows the pain, shame and chaos this epidemic can create. Amy Lee is currently writing her memoir, The Destruction of Lilacs, as well as a guide for advocates in working with survivors in the sex industry titled Glamorized Oppression and Re-Victimization. She has released a novel titled Disillusioned Love, a book in which Amy’s own experiences as a survivor provides an emotional and raw reality to the main character.

Photo used from

2 thoughts on “Is Birth a Competition?

  1. A.L.Peine says:

    Thank you so much Allison! I find myself often saddened by the lack of sisterhood among women and to see something as personal as motherhood and parenting being attacked on all sides deepens the wound. Perhaps people post these “jokes” as a way to voice their pride in how they delivered their children–I hope they do have pride in their delivery as bringing life into this world is pretty awesome–but to have pride in oneself shouldn’t be contingent on devaluing someone else’s experiences. The first step in strengthening our sisterhood is speaking about the things that keep us from connecting; such as this manufactured competition.


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