Cesarean: Beyond the Wound
by Ana Alvarez-Errecalde, in collaboration with the organization, Birth Is Ours

[2010, Tegueste, Spain: OB STARE, 76 pages, hardback.]

[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 94, Summer 2010, © 2010, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Kelly Moyer. This book is available through OB STARE here.]

A nice addition to the library of any midwife or doula working with clients who have had c-sections, Cesarean: Beyond the Wound, a trilingual (Spanish, Catalan and English) book of photography and stories, captures the emotions and physical scars that accompany cesareans.

Created by the Spanish nonprofit group, Birth Is Ours, which aims to promote and support mothers’ choices in childbirth, this book was designed as an educational tool for mothers living in Spain, where more than 100,000—half of them unnecessary—cesareans are performed each year. The themes contained in this book of photography and verse, however, are universal, and would be especially poignant for mothers desiring VBAC.

Artistic photos of c-section scars, shot by Argentine photographer Ana Alvarez-Errecalde, are juxtaposed with the mother’s recollection of her cesarean surgery.

For example, this quote: “When my skin was cut, my spirit was cut; and something in my head and heart started to beat. ‘Something is wrong. This is not right. I’m a woman. I can give birth. What is happening?’ I haven’t got an answer yet,” accompanies a powerful shot of a nude woman reclining in a bathtub, flowers scattered over her chest, her c-section scar faint but visible.

According to Ibone Olza, a member of Birth Is Ours, the group published the book because they wanted to show their scars “in order to help other mothers accept theirs.”

“We never thought Ana would turn our pain into beauty and give expression not only to our visible wound but to the invisible one, the scar in our souls, which we usually call ‘emotion scar,’” Olza writes in the book’s introduction. “We had accidentally started a collective healing ritual. We want the wheel to keep turning and we want other mothers to look at their wounds feeling pain but also pride…”

This book is a visual treasure for midwives and other birth professionals who work with VBAC clients and is wonderful for those who work with both English and Spanish-speaking populations.

Reviewer Kelly Moyer is the managing editor of Midwifery Today magazine and the mother of Eva Dolores, who was born at home in 2002. Kelly has been a journalist for 14 years, trained to be a doula at the International Center for Traditional Childbearing in Portland, Oregon, and is an aspiring midwife.