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For many years, I’ve been filling out school forms for my children. Forms for preschool. Forms for kindergarten. Forms for new schools. And many of times, I’ve answered the question… Type of birth? Vaginal? Or C-section?

And unbelievably I never thought to NOT answer it.

Well, one mother did think to absolutely not answer it. Cara Paiuk recently wrote a piece for the New York Times and said, “The ‘baby’ who had resulted from that birth was 5 years old and well over any possible ramifications of it I could imagine. I thought it was obvious that this question was absurdly inappropriate, and said so.”

And this mom started asking why this question was asked at all.  And she was told “the form was stored in the school nurse’s files so that if a teacher or other administrator perceives an issue with a child (presumably, a learning disability or behavioral problem), that person could pull the file and look for clues in the medical record that might explain the cause.”


So let’s say, a kid throws a globe at a teacher.  School officials might pull his file and say, “ohhh, vaginal birth. You know traumatic it can be to come out of a vagina. Poor kiddo has a lot of stifled rage.”

Cara Paiuk wasn’t convinced either. She pointed out that birth traumas could happen via a vaginal birth or C-section. Plus, why not ask about other things that could impact a child’s behavior or learning – like diet. And she was told, “We don’t like to ask questions about food. Parents are very sensitive to that.”

But not to questions about their vaginas?! I think I can speak on behalf of all women that we are sensitive to questions about our vaginas, especially when it comes from people outside the medical profession.

Which is why I can’t figure out why I never thought to leave this question blank when filling out school forms. I just answered it like some kind of parental robot. In my defense, I’ve filled out a lot of mind numbing forms and I’d probably tell them my bra size if I thought it would move the process along faster.

The thing is – I don’t mind sharing birth information with doctors. I don’t mind sharing it with friends or anyone who asks. But it doesn’t need to be stamped on my kids’ school forms. And I’m glad a mom finally pointed this out to me.

7 Responses to c-section or vaginal birth? why is this question on school forms?

  • Beyond says:

    I am surprised to read this. I think it must be an American thing as I have not come across it in Europe so far. I agree, unless a doctor asks, it is an unnecessary question.

  • Megan says:

    I don’t think I have ever had to answer that question on a form, but I have been known to skip questions without realizing it. But I agree, a much more important question is diet and even sleep & exercise habits.

  • Erin says:

    This is the first time I ever noticed it on the form for emily’s preschool. I answered it but then was like “wait a minute. wtf did they just ask me?” ridiculous. and gross.

  • Steph says:

    Weird. I agree with you that it is none of the school’s business. I’ve been filling out preschool/school forms since 1998 and don’t remember that being asked. But I can’t say for sure because I go on mom-auto-pilot when filling out those forms.

  • Liz says:

    I’ve been asked too and I’m right there with you…WHY have I been answering it without a second thought? If I see it again I may just write “none of your business, thankyouverymuch.”

  • Jen says:

    I’ve seen the question many times– every three years, to be exact, as that’s how often we have to go back to the child psychologist to review my daughter’s autism diagnosis. She has to be tested every three years.

    It’s a medical history question, and it’s not the only one that will be asked. Specifically, little things that happened during pregnancy and birth can crop up years later in the form of developmental and/or learning delays, and since any issues that haven’t been previously diagnosed tend to make themselves more obvious in the classroom, the school counselor or nurse might then refer to these questions. Each type of birth has its own set of risks and problems that might later show up. School is often the place where other problems like poor eyesight and hearing loss can also be caught.

    While there’s a valid question as to whether these questions should be asked upfront or after a problem has been noticed, there are some who would take offense to just about anything, even while a licensed psychologist was trying to determine if there might be a problem. In any case, it’s still a perfectly valid question, as most pediatricians will tell you, and your pediatrician will not be the only person to ever need information on your child’s medical history.

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kelcey kintner