Hilaria Baldwin made headlines last week when she shared a photo of her post-birth "baby bump" on Instagram, along with an empowering message about body image.
"I have been planning on doing post belly photos but didn't know if I was gonna have the guts to actually follow through," she wrote in the caption. "I hope you understand my intention here: I believe it is important to accept and love our form after going through a bit of a battle bringing life into this world."
The yoga instructor and "Extra" correspondent, who gave birth to her second child with Alec Baldwin on June 17, received many supportive messages from Instagram users. But Baldwin later claimed that there were also several comments speculating about her method of delivery because of the slightly obscured view of her stomach and the length of time she stayed in the hospital.
Just two days after sharing the original selfie, the mom posted a new Instagram photo in which she addressed the speculation.
1) I apologize for the weird post and I want to say I am grateful for all the concern I have read on my photo comments. I know they are coming from a good place. 2) This is for those of you who are getting into some pretty serious arguments with each other about if I had a c section or not...this should clear it up: as you can see from this pic, I did not have a c section. 3) The other question has been speculation as to why I stayed in the hospital a few days. Rafael came a little early (nothing extreme) so we just wanted to stay an extra night and make sure all is ok. Due dates are estimates and he came out a healthy weight. I'm actually lucky because given another few weeks, he would have been HUGE! 4) We are overjoyed that we have a healthy little boy and also that I am feeling well. I can never repay my doctor and the nurses who cared for Rafa and me. I'm eternally grateful. 💛
"This is for those of you who are getting into some pretty serious arguments with each other about if I had a c section or not," she wrote in the caption for the photo, in which she reveals her scar-less midsection from the front. "This should clear it up: as you can see from this pic, I did not have a c section. "
While many news outlets quickly reported the news of Hilaria Baldwin's confirmed vaginal delivery, others responded to her announcement with an important question:
"Regardless of the number of negative comments, why does Baldwin feel the need to prove anything?" Yahoo Parenting writer Rachel Bertsche asked in her article about the photo.
The response speaks to the scrutiny and stigma that still surrounds C-section birth today. “Some people are so engrossed in the details of the labor and delivery they want that they lose sight of the fact that in the end, the goal is to have a healthy baby and for the mom to be healthy,” Midwest Center for Women's Healthcare OB-GYN Dr. Amy Henriott told Yahoo Parenting. Henriott noted that the rising C-section rate in the U.S. has led to a greater push to avoid the procedure when possible, as it comes a risk of complications and longer recovery.
However, she added, "Doctors want patients to have vaginal births, because we want to avoid medical intervention as much as possible, but if that’s what it comes down to, that’s OK.”
When photographer Keri-Anne Dilworth documented a mother's C-section birth, she told The Huffington Post that she hoped her photos would help break down some of the stigma. "I hope that people will see that ALL manners of birth are beautiful, that no matter how your child is birthed into the world that the moment deserves respect and is special," she said.
Indeed, it's the result, not the method of delivery, that matters most.