Reports say that 80% of American women get some form of medical pain relief during childbirth. A growing number of women are requesting delivery by elective cesarean section. This trend is due in part to celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Eilzabeth Hurley, Britney Spears, Claudia Schiffer and Christina Aguilera, making the elective C-section the “it” activity of the decade.
The media has dubbed the movement “too posh to push,” after Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz’s Spice Girl mama. The British beauty, like some of the other celeb mamas in question, claimed that her C-sections were under doctors’ orders.
But were they simply trying to avoid abdominal stretching? Or the pain of natural childbirth?
Click below to see who went natural vs. the elective C-section.
- Who went au naturel?
The latest celeb mom to give birth naturally – and possibly the most outspoken on the topic – is Gisele Bündchen. The supermodel gave birth to her first child, Benjamin, in December. She recently opened up about her drug-free and pain-free homebirth:
My delivery was in a bath tub, in water. I wanted to have a home birth. I wanted to be very aware and present during the birth… I didn’t want to be drugged up. So I did a lot of preparation, I did yoga and meditation, so I managed to have a very tranquil birth at home. It didn’t hurt in the slightest. The whole time my mind was focused in each contraction on the thought ‘my baby is closer to coming out.’”
A few weeks later the supermodel looked svelte on the cover of Vogue and spoke of her “empowered” birth experience:
“I wanted to experience the transformation. It was the most amazing experience of my life, feeling him come through my body. And once he was born, I never felt so empowered as looking at him and thinking, Oh, my God, we did it together!”
The Brazilian beauty later wrote on her blog:
I am blessed to have been able to have a home birth surrounded by love , where I was able to feel safe. It was a powerful experience. I never felt so vulnerable but so strong at the same time. It was amazing to experience my body become free to do what it was made to do by allowing my mind and my body to let go and be free to experience the changes taking place within… I was just there… focusing on my breathing and relaxing the best that I could… so present, to witness the biggest miracle in my life happen before my very own eyes. To give life to another being, what a gift!”
Taye Diggs gushed about his wife Idina Menzel who opted for a natural labor, boasting that she used “No drugs. She is a warrior.”
I was holding her hands and cheering her on. I said I would look two times. I would look when the baby was crowning, and I wanted to look right when [son] Walker came out. And then when he came out, all of a sudden it was like my inner gangster came out. I was like, ‘Yeah baby, that’s what I’m talkin’ about, that’s my boy!’”
Ricki Lake’s documentary about homebirth, The Business of Being Born, empowered women everywhere to have unmedicated births at home. She gave birth to her second son Owen, now 8, at home in a bathtub. She talked about her reasons for making the film.
“I wanted to make this movie after my two very different birth experiences with my children. I felt like I had an opportunity to explore and question birthing practices in this country and perhaps be an advocate for mothers’ rights and better maternity care.”
On the experience of birthing Owen at home, Ricki said:
After the birth of my sons, particularly my home birth with my second son, I thought I wanted to become a midwife. Then I looked at all the years of schooling and training that I would have to do and felt that the time could be better spent doing a documentary on the subject of birth.”
One of our favorite celebrity moms, Jessica Alba, said she didn’t scream at all while she birthed her daughter Honor without any medical interventions:
I didn’t scream, it was really Zen. It was amazing. The labor was more like meditation. I did yoga breathing. I was focused.”
And her hubby Cash Warren could only marvel at his wife’s quiet strength when she gave birth. “She didn’t make a sound,” he says.
Melissa Joan Hart
Melissa Joan Hart underwent “a lot of medical intervention” during the birth of her firstborn son Mason. She wanted a drug-free childbirth when it came time to deliver her second son Braydon in March 2008. The Sabrina star recalled her birth story:
I told my mom and my husband, don’t let me have [the drugs]. I kinda regret that one! But the thing is, the healing was so much faster. I didn’t have to get the drugs out of my system and was moving around a lot more. I labored at home for 9 hours and then went to the hospital for an hour and a half – two pushes and he was out. When you’re feeling all that, you want to get that out as soon as possible, so you really work. You’re like, ‘I’m gonna push really hard but I’m only doing it once.’”
In speaking with Celebrity Baby Scoop recently, the busy mom-of-two was asked if medical interventions are often overused during births.
I don’t think pregnancy or labor is easy in any capacity. I think it is unfortunate that people are opting to make birth a medical issue instead of a natural process but it is a very private choice and you will never hear me lecture someone on the difference. Now if someone wanted to know the ins and outs of how I did it, I will tell them about every minute and detail.”
Maria Bello said she “can’t imagine giving birth in a sterile environment like a hospital,” and that’s one reason that she labored with son Jackson Blue, now 9, in her bed. The 42-year-old shared that during the “22 hours of labor,” she “had a midwife and a thunderstorm with nothing more than an aspirin.” Although there were “times where I wanted to say, ‘Get the ambulance — I’m done,’” Maria told herself she could get through it.
Former Baywatch babe and current Dancing with the Stars vixen, Pamela Anderson, gave birth to both of her sons – Brandon and Dylan – at home, with a midwife, without any drugs. The 42-year-old Canadian native talked about her water birth with talk show host Larry King:
I gave birth at home both times–natural–with a midwife, in water…with nothing. Not even Tylenol.”
Thandie Newton’s daughters Ripley and Nico were both born in a birthing pool. The Crash star talked about her medication/intervention-free births.
[It was] very challenging in the best way possible. Every fiber of your being is alive. It’s like you are conducting electricity, literally creating something. I’d like to give birth every year if I could, just for that experience.”
Alyson Hannigan has quickly become one of our favorite celebrity moms since the birth of her first child, Satyana, in March 2009. Celebrity Baby Scoop sat down with the 36-year-old How I Met Your Mother star and asked about her drug-free homebirth:
Yes. I did use a midwife and a doula. We had the option of having a doctor there, but even he said you’ll only need me if you need to be transferred to the hospital–which thankfully, I did not need.”
Mayim Bialik has really ‘blossomed’ into an amazing and outspoken mother! An advocate of attachment parenting, Mayim also empowers women to consider medication-free homebirths. The 34-year-old mother of two talked about her second son’s homebirth, while her elder son watched.
Fred, yes, was born at home, and Miles was able to watch the whole thing from his high chair while eating granola. Fortunately it was a very fast labor because I think Miles would’ve been bored if it was longer than the hour and a half it was. He loves it, he still talks about it. It was something we talked about with our pediatrician, and believed very strongly in older siblings being present, and giving the choice. We gave him a choice before, we prepared him with videos about homebirth that our midwife prepared. Even during, I said, “If Miles wants to go the next room he can!” But he said, “No, I fine!” He got freaked out by the blood, but it was still nice.”
- Who went for the planned C-section?
Christina Aguilera gave birth to her first child, son Max, in January 2008. The Beautiful singer talked about her decision to go for an elective C-section.
I didn’t want any surprises. Honestly, I didn’t want any [vaginal] tearing. I had heard horror stories of women going in and having to have an emergency C-section [anyway]. The hardest part was deciding on his birthday. I wanted to leave it up to fate, but at the same time I was ready to be done early!”
In 2005 prior to the birth of her first son, pop star Britney Spears told Elle magazine that she was spooked to give birth naturally because of her mother’s description of vaginal childbirth as being the most excruciating pain she had ever endured.
I have a feeling I’m going to have an operation. I don’t know why, but I hope so. My mom said giving birth was the most excruciating thing that she’s ever gone through in her life. So if a caesarean doesn’t happen, I’ll be like, ‘Epidural, please!’ Hopefully my athletic abilities will take over.”
Rumor has it she wanted to schedule her second C-section birth to coincide with Sean Preston’s birthday, but her then-husband Kevin Federline persuaded her to move the date forward. Sean’s birthday is September 14, 2005 and Jayden’s birthday is September 12, 2006.
A-lister mom Angelina Jolie had a scheduled C-section with her first biological child, Shiloh, due to her breech presentation. The mother-of-six talked about the “fascinating” experience.
We were in this little hospital in Africa when Shi was born. I don’t think there was anybody else in the hospital. It was just a little cottage, the three of us. It ended up being the greatest thing. We had wonderful doctors and nurses. It was lovely, very personal, all three in this sweet room. We had an American doctor with us, who had met the Namibian doctors, and they worked in tandem because it was a C-section and my first and we didn’t know the country. He spent a few weeks with us. There was only one pediatrician in town, and one anesthesiologist, who had to come in for that — you have to plan it. I had a C-section and I found it fascinating. I didn’t find it a sacrifice and I didn’t find it a painful experience. I found it a fascinating miracle of what a body can do.”
The very woman who inspired the phrase “too posh to push,” Victoria Beckham, has had 3 scheduled C-sections. While she has publicly stated that they were medically necessary, others have speculated that Vickie is not only too posh to push, but she desperately wanted to avoid abdominal stretching and the pain of natural childbirth.
Victoria has said that if she has a girl she would like to name her Luna. Although another pregnancy is likely not in the cards for the 35-year-old mother of three as doctors have warned that her body couldn’t handle a fourth C-section. Was it worth it Posh?
- Who wanted a natural birth, but mother nature had other plans?
Kate Winslet said that when her daughter Mia was delivered via C-section in 2000 she was left feeling “like a complete failure.”
I’ve never talked about this. I’ve actually gone to great pains to cover it up. But Mia was an emergency C-section. I just said that I had a natural birth because I was so completely traumatized by the fact that I hadn’t given birth. I felt like a complete failure. My whole life, I’d been told I had great childbearing hips. There’s this thing amongst women in the world that if you can handle childbirth, you can handle anything. I had never handled childbirth, and I felt like, in some way that I couldn’t join that ‘powerful women’s club.’”
But the Academy Award-winning actress opted for the VBAC for her second child and had her “triumphant” birth:
So it was an amazing feeling having Joe naturally, vaginally. Fourteen hours with no drugs at all, but then I had to have an epidural because I was so tired. I honestly thought I’d never be able to do it. It was an incredible birth. It laid all the ghosts to rest. It was really triumphant.”
Camila Alves labored at the hospital for 60 hours before her son Levi was finally delivered via C-section. Dad Matthew McConaughey famously recounted the birth story:
Contractions started kicking in. We had a 14-hour session, her and I did. I sat there with her, right between her legs. We got tribal on it, we danced to it! I was DJ-ing this Brazilian music. We were jamming! She was sweating. No painkiller, let’s go. She just clicked into that gear that only a woman has at a time like this. We’d been up for 40-something hours, and we went from dead tired to a really steadfast, ‘Let’s handle this… let’s stay in the rhythm. Don’t let the contraction be more than you.’ The doctor wanted to give her an epidural, and we said, “Give us a few more hours to keep rocking with this.’ I wasn’t speaking for Camila. She had the option of saying, ‘Give me an epidural, right now,’ whenever she wanted. This is where I learned – and no one tells you this – but having a baby is a bloody, pukey, sweaty, primeval thing! And I mean that as a beautiful thing. It is wild. But the vacuum didn’t work, and the doctor said, ‘C-section.’”
Life goes on! Kellie Martin was set on giving birth naturally and was disappointed that she had to be induced when her daughter Maggie didn’t want to come on her own.
I was induced, and I really, really wanted to have her naturally. No drugs, no nothing, because that’s what my mom did with me so Ifigured — you know — I’m as tough as my mother!
Maggie changed her mind after her water broke, but Kellie’s husband and her nurse helped her get through it.
We got a couple of hours into the real, good contractions and they broke my water… and once that happened, I said ‘Okay, no, no, no,no… can’t do it. Can’t do it! Drugs! Somebody help me…I have to have drugs.’ And my husband knew how important it was to me to have Maggie naturally so he just kept changing the subject, and my nurse kept changing the subject…She’d be like ‘Ooooh, look! It’s so beautiful outside!’ And I was like, ‘Seriously, no one is listening tome.’ And by that point I’d really forgotten that I needed the drugs,and it was time to push.”
Laila Ali had planned on having an unmedicated homebirth. The 32-year-old professional boxer ended up in the hospital and required pain relief and medical support during labor.
He is healthy, he is here, and even though everything didn’t go the way I would have liked it to have gone… that’s the way it was supposed to be,” Ali said.
What is your birth story? Natural? Planned C-section? Epidural? Homebirth?