Millie Mackintosh has shared an important message about giving birth, revealing that she believes "the narrative around C-sections needs to change".
The former Made In Chelsea star, 33, who has two daughters, Sienna, two, and Aurelia, 17 months, with husband Hugo Taylor, posted some sweet snaps of her welcoming her children while also discussing her own caesarean experiences.
"April marks C-section awareness month, a time that holds a special place in my heart," she writes in the accompanying caption.
"I had C-sections with both of my girls, Sienna was breech so it was the safest way for her to be born. I really enjoyed the experience so I chose to have another one with Aurelia – we even opted to drop the curtain and watch her delivery!"
While Mackintosh says she feels "so lucky" to have had positive birth experiences with both girls, she believes there is a certain stigma surrounding giving birth via caesarean.
"I do often speak to women who are told they need to have a C-section and they are scared, upset and feel the birth they wanted has been stolen from them," she explains.
"I feel really strongly that the narrative around C-sections needs to change, they are almost seen as the ‘easy’ way out, or at times, an inferior way to give birth."
The former reality TV star says that instead of a C-section she likes to call it an abdominal birth.
"You are still birthing your baby, often people refer to a vaginal delivery as ‘natural’ which makes an abdominal birth sound like it’s the opposite," she continues.
"It is obviously very different in each situation, sometimes an emergency C-section is unavoidable so I can only speak from my own experiences."
Mackintosh went on to say that she often shares her own birth stories as she believes parents need to hear more positive C-section stories.
"My births were both incredible!" she adds. "Of course, I always support the choice of the individual and doing whatever is right for them."
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She concludes her post by saying: "Birth and motherhood is certainly unpredictable but arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible can only be a good thing!"
Since sharing her post, fans used the comments section to thank the star for sharing the inspiring message about giving birth.
Emily Clarkson agrees that the narrative surrounding how women give birth needs to change.
"I ended up with a (not all that surprising) emergency C-section after my induction didn’t work," she comments. "In the lead up I was so sure I wanted a “natural” birth ans [sic] really pushed for this induction so that I could at least try…
"I felt loads of random pressure that I might somehow be failing with a C-section which looking back makes NO sense!!!"
But after giving birth to her baby earlier this year, Clarkson says she "wouldn’t change a thing".
"My whole experience was so positive and I don’t feel any less of anything to have had an abdominal birth!
"I’m so proud of how I brought my baby into the world and the stigma can do one cos we’re all epic however we do it."
"Never had a section with any of my 4 but I think those who have are soo strong and amazing!" another user adds. "And its deffo not an unnatural way to give birth! No matter what way a baby is born it's all beautiful and special."
"Thank you for sharing!" another user added. "I had an emergency C-section and had a difficult time healing. It took hearing it from my mother and mother in law that a healthy baby is the ultimate goal and nothing else.
"We, as women, can get wrapped up in what the birthing experience is supposed to be or what we hope it to be instead of freeing ourselves of expectations. There shouldn’t be shame or judgement involved when birthing a human being."
Mackintosh previously shared her recovery from her first caesarean birth, saying the experience left her feeling "fragile and exhausted".
“I slowly started increasing the length of my walks but got carried away, I did too much and ended up in bed with cramps and with heavy bleeding,” she wrote. “My advice is to listen to your body and take it very slowly, get as much help as you can so that you can rest and let your body heal.
“I see photos of other new mums who walk out of hospital on the same day and are off to the park post smiling selfies with their families and newborn and think it's amazing, but my reality was very different,” she continued.
“I felt fragile, exhausted, emotional, self-conscious and in a state of shock for the first few weeks and it took me months to feel physically strong again. After 6 weeks I saw my obstetrician and a women’s physio and was given the all-clear to start exercising again, I started with Pilates and introduced lightweight training from about 8 weeks and slowly built [my] strength back up."
Her latest post about breaking the stigma surrounding birth is the latest in a growing line of messages about her experience of pregnancy and parenting.
Last year, Mackintosh opened up about her decision to stop breastfeeding her second daughter in an honest post shared to Instagram.
Alongside a montage of photos Instagram, the former reality star revealed the reasons why her time breastfeeding Aurelia had come to an end.
After initially mentioning her nursing struggles on social media, Mackintosh said she was overwhelmed with support from her followers.
"There was one comment that really stuck with me, ‘It’s ok to stop too, it doesn’t make you a bad mum’. At the time I really needed to hear that," she wrote.
"Ultimately when I got mastitis again I decided breastfeeding wasn’t working for me anymore and I knew it was time to stop," she explained. "I was in a lot of pain, I really wanted my body back, my time back and Aurelia was really unsettled which I found upsetting and frustrating."
She was also praised by fans after offering a reminder that all is "not always as it seems" on social media, as she shared what her post-pregnancy body looks like from different angles.
Mackintosh gave an insight into the type of experiences she's having with her youngest daughter, which many hailed as relatable.