Family Matters

Beyoncé’s Baby: C-Section? Natural Childbirth? Why We Care So Much

Welcome to your world, baby Blue, where even the way you were born is fodder for debate

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JIM SPELLMAN / WIREIMAGE

Celebrity babies are big business. They and their stylishly pregnant mothers who precede them set trends, which is why the much heralded arrival of Blue Ivy Carter, Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s daughter, has ignited a firestorm on the very intimate details of how babies are born.

Seven-pound Baby Blue arrived Saturday at Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital, where her music mogul parents reportedly paid $1.3 million to rent out the hospital’s fourth floor, according to the Daily News, which detailed a security phalanx that kept some doctors and nurses from gaining access to the floor. At least one mad dad told CBS’ local station he was barred from seeing his babies in the neonatal intensive care ward because of the amped up security, although the hospital’s executive director, Frank Danza, said he’d received no complaints of that sort and debunked the million-dollar labor and delivery price tag, noting that the couple paid standard rates for an “executive suite.”

That’s just run-of-the-mill gossip. What’s really got mom bloggers buzzing is the scheduled C-section that E! News reported Beyoncé had planned. In the pantheon of C-sections, there’s a distinct hierarchy. Emergency C-sections or those planned because of a breech baby or other medical reasons are rarely questioned. But elective C-sections are another story.

At CafeMom’s The Stir, Michele Zipp took issue with “the Beyoncé diva way of birth,” making the case that “because Beyoncé had a scheduled c-section (for whatever reason) it makes so many other women who admire her think that is the glamorous way to birth. It’s not. If it’s necessary, then it’s necessary and that is a different story…Birth advocates know this is a bad decision. It’s bad news for moms.”

But wait. On Monday, the proud parents issued a statement welcoming their daughter to the world and proclaiming she was “delivered naturally.” That’s code for a vaginal birth sans analgesia — no epidural block, no pain relief whatsoever. It’s the birth of champions, the sort of delivery that makes moms — like me — who clamored for relief say “wow.”

MORE: Pregnant Women Who Control their Epidural Dosage Use Less Medication

All of a sudden, Beyoncé had ricocheted from zero — when it comes to birthing, that is — to hero. Twitter fans expressed relief. “Happy To Hear Beyonce Actually Delivered Naturally Rather Than Having a C-Section,” tweeted @MustLove_Teyana. “Loving life! …official statement confirms natural birth,” wrote Kayleigh Gedge. Then Carolina Bermudez weighed in with a powerful insight of her own: “Wait. I’m legit asking: do we need to know Beyonce gave birth vaginally? Does that make her better/worse for not having c-section? #confused

It’s indeed a legit question and one that’s packed with controversy. On one hand, how you give birth should be nobody’s business but your own. On the other hand, C-sections now comprise a third of all U.S. deliveries. The percentage has been on the rise, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it recently declined marginally for the first time in a decade, from 32.9% in 2009 to 32.8% in 2010.

Even though C-sections are incredibly common, they remain major surgery with all the attendant risks. They cost more. And they make postpartum recovery more challenging.

Some women have medical reasons to deliver by C-section; others prefer to schedule them for reasons of convenience. Recently, a small but growing number of U.S. hospitals has begun banning elective inductions or C-sections before 39 weeks, as new research shows that babies continue to develop all the way through the final weeks of pregnancy. Some experts estimate that 50% of deliveries between 36 and 39 weeks are scheduled.

MORE: Patience, Mom: More Hospitals Say No to Scheduled Delivery Before 39 Weeks

Beyoncé did not personally share her birthing plans with Healthland, but if she had scheduled an elective delivery, something about the timing seemed a little off. The pop star had previously said she was due in February, yet she delivered Jan. 7. Controversy over C-sections versus vaginal birth aside, what might have happened?

The likeliest possibility is that she was just being sly, hoping to ensure privacy by announcing publicly a falsified due date that was considerably later than her actual one. Assuming the due date was correct, Blue Ivy would be considered premature, born before 39 weeks, which can present its own health problems. Yet her parents’ statement described her as a “healthy 7 lbs,” calling a preterm birth into question.

Alluding to the C-section ruckus and earlier rumors that Beyoncé was never really pregnant in the first place, @Chocolate_Thai1 quipped: “#Shoutout to Beyoncé for being the first pregnant woman ever to have an inflatable belly and having a C-section with no meds.” Natural birth or C-section, full term or preterm, all that matters — even for superstars — is a healthy baby.

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