A woman who suffered a traumatic birth has revealed how the experience led her to signing up to Miss Universe Australia.
Emily Becca, 32, had a fraught pregnancy with her second child as she was told from the first scan her daughter was in the smallest two percentile.
“I was riddled with anxiety my entire pregnancy, I would go to scans and be told there was something wrong with my child’s head,” Emily told news.com.au.
She would come home from appointments and constantly research what was going on with her child’s head.
Eventually, at 40 weeks, Emily was induced in case there was an issue with the baby’s head, and after a long time trying to give birth naturally.
But her unborn child’s heart rate dropped, Emily eventually lost consciousness and after countless attempts at medical intervention the decision was made that Emily would have an emergency Caesarian.
She wasn’t put under or covered up, leaving her husband to witness the traumatic birth.
“I don’t know if we took the appropriate steps or if any of this could have been avoided, but afterwards I was like ‘OK, baby is OK I can move on from this,” she said.
It was worlds apart from the birth of her first daughter, who she was able to birth vaginally and recovered in six weeks.
A week after giving birth to her second daughter she noticed indents in her abdomen, and she could feel her skin “ripping”. Emily was in chronic pain and brought it up with her obstetrician who essentially told her it was normal and “what it meant to be a mum”.
“I tried everything I could to sort of get rid of this chronic pain. It’s a really bad depression because no one was able to help me. No one was able to tell me what was going on,” she said.
“A lot of women are taught to just dismiss these things because it’s just the cost of having a baby.”
Emily looked for help everywhere she could and eventually found a C-section page on Facebook where hundreds of women had gone through the same thing and suggested things that may help.
In the end, she had to pay over $7000 to have what was essentially another C-section without a baby in a type of reconstructive surgery.
All the cost was out of pocket and did not cover any kind of physiotherapy after the procedure.
“There’s women out there who are sort of just going to live with it, because they don’t have the means to fix it,” Emily said.
The entire experience left Emily feeling as though she was in a rut, she was no longer in charge of her body due to its look and chronic pain and she wasn’t to reclaim a sense of self.
When the Miss Universe competition announced in August 2023 that it would no longer cap contestants at the age of 28 but all women over 18 could enter, Emily saw this as her chance.
“I took this as my most radical way to sort of get myself out of that rut,” she said.
She’d never been involved in pageants before so, she took a leap of faith outside of he comfort zone.
The mother-of-two is now a state finalist for New South Wales and has several goals when it come to the competition – specifically changing the conversation surrounding motherhood and pain.
One bold move by Emily was to mimic a photograph she had seen of Sports Illustrated model Kelly Hughes, who flashed her C-section scar while wearing a bikini.
“I remember that was incredibly impactful to me. When I was in my worst frame of mind, I felt really isolated – despite Caesareans making up 50 per cent of births – but seeing her and embody beauty while I felt as my least beautiful and in a place of complete discomfort,” she said.
“That was extremely empowering for me and I remember looking at her going, ‘Gosh, I wish I could feel comfortable to do that’.”
Emily was doing a photo shoot associated with Miss Universe in a studio while wearing a bikini that she remembered the photo and spoke to the photographer about doing something similar.
“I felt completely vulnerable. I felt very exposed. But after I got the photos back, I’m like, ‘Okay, it’s time. I really do want to push for change now’,” she said.
In recent years, we have seen more diversity when it comes to the Miss Universe competition with women of different races, gender identity, body type and with conditions such as vitiligo.
However the age barrier lifting means that a group that Emily believes has been under-represented can finally take centre stage – mothers.
“Mums are completely under-represented, I think it would be completely empowering to see on Bras N Things a mother with a C section scar or stretch marks on her stomach.”
Emily’s journey – and her reason for competing – is completely dedicated to giving mums a voice and she is now studying a post graduate degree in psychology specialising in post-partum and women’s health.
“My short term goal would be to get a Medicare number to support women who need corrective surgery or rehab via physiotherapy etc following giving birth,” she said.
“My long term goal would be to create a safe space that has all of the modalities required to properly heal from birth, including a psychologist in which I am trying to fulfil myself.”
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