More than 30 percent of women in the United States deliver their babies via C-section, a surgery that can be essential and life-saving. And yet amid all the talk in public health circles about the need to lower the C-section rate, and our reverence for “natural” birth, many moms absorb the message that surgical delivery is somehow less than. We hear about women being told C-sections aren’t real birth, or that they took the easy way out. 

But C-section mothers, like all mothers, are fierce and their stories ― good and bad, disappointing and beloved ― are important to share. So too are their unique experiences learning how to live in their bodies again after those bodies have been transformed not only by pregnancy and motherhood, but by major surgery.

So HuffPost Parents asked New York City-area C-section mamas to share their birth stories and show off their scars to continue to normalize an experience that is extremely common, yet often treated as somehow secondary.

These are their stories, and this is what C-section moms look like. Which is to say, beautiful and strong as hell. 

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