Yesterday, this article popped up on my Facebook feed written by the inspiring Milli Hill (of The Positive Birth Movement); two images shared on their Facebook page had been removed by Facebook and the organisation were subjected to a 24-hour ban from the social network.
According to Facebook, these images “violated community standards”. The two images in question have been used in the article on The Guardian website (linked above); one shows a woman, naked, on her knees, breathing through contractions, and the other shows a woman birthing her own child in a water pool. Both images are beautiful, poignant and, in no way pornographic.
Before I had Busby I would have agreed with Facebook. “Take those images off! No one wants to see a woman, naked, in labour! How uncouth!” but then I gave birth. It wasn’t a difficult birth, but looking back, it wasn’t the birth I wanted. I felt stressed in hospital. No one listened to me. I felt out of control. But at that point I didn’t know any different. I hadn’t gone to antenatal classes; I figured that ignorance was bliss, and that my body would tell me what to do. I assumed I’d lie on the bed and push (and maybe break Nick’s hand), but at the end of it all I’d have a beautiful baby and it wouldn’t matter how the birth had gone, really.
A few months after giving birth to Busby a wonderful series of photos popped up on my Instagram feed through the evening. It was a woman giving birth, at home, in a birthing pool. I found myself checking her feed every hour or so to see how the birth was progressing, and when I woke up the next morning she had given birth to a gorgeous baby boy, in the pool, at home. I was intrigued. Mesmerised by her experience.
Now, I’m not about to announce that when I give birth next time I’m going to Instagram and live tweet the whole experience, tits and all! I’m not really a “naked person”, in fact I actually described myself as “a little bit prude” in my maternity notes when I was pregnant with Busby. What I am saying is that this opened up my eyes to a world of possibilities; to a world of birth giving that I never knew existed. An experience where I could feel in control. Where I didn’t feel terrified and gripped with pain. Where I could take hold of the experience and use it to empower.
These images changed the way I saw and thought about birth.
The Positive Birth Movement weren’t trying to offend Facebook users; they were merely highlighting that you do have choices when it comes to birth. Users have liked their page for a reason; these days people turn to the internet and social networks for research and support – and giving birth is no different. Search engines can be a curse and a blessing, and something such as The Positive Birth Movement Facebook page creates a knowledgable community in which to support Mothers looking for information on their birth choices.
I’m not saying that we should all start posting photos of us (crowning heads and all) on our own Facebook feeds; I have a lot of people I went to school with on mine, and I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate a photo of my lady-area popping up while checking their feed, eating breakfast, but if it’s the right situation (for example, this blog) then I would consider it.
What did I learn from my first birth giving experience? Ignorance is definitely not bliss! As well as being pretty amazing, giving birth is a scary experience; especially the first time round, and if these images help woman feel more confident, positive and less scared about giving birth then it’s worth it for the well-being of both Mama and Baby!
What’s your opinion on this subject? Would you post photos of you giving birth on social networks? Or do you think the sharing on social media is a step too far?