It seems there is a storm brewing between Milli Hill of the Positive Birth Movement ( http://www.bestdaily.co.uk/your-life/news/a577499/should-images-of-giving-birth-be-allowed-on-facebook.html) and Mia Freedman of Mamamia (http://www.mamamia.com.au/birth/birth-photos-on-social-media/#J18j4xixH2QlQBTz.97) regarding the posting of graphic birth images on Facebook.
The image at the centre of the argument (below) happens to be one of mine and was never posted by myself on Facebook.
After the worldwide amazement of the baby in caul series which reached over 500,000 people and was shared over 3000 times from my facebook page, people were asking about the background to the image. With Natalia’s blessing I wrote a short blog post including the image because I think it is incredibly powerful (http://www.janemccraephotography.com/birth-photography/caul-baby/)
The image of Natalia enthralled with the birth of her baby is incredibly captivating to me, there is just so much to love about it. Firstly one cannot help but notice Natalia is actually enjoying the experience, look at that smile as she welcomes her babe still in the caul. Yes, birth can be ecstatic, pleasurable and joy filled. The transformation from maiden to mother is a journey to be embraced, a far cry from the painful event that our culture likes to control and endure. It also shows the fearless power, strength and beauty of a mother, she has complete trust in the process of birth as do those encircling her. What I also love about the image is the normality of it. Birth is as normal as life gets and yet in all of the normality, a lounge room on the NSW Central Coast, there is this grand once in a lifetime event taking place. She is certainly an inspirational woman and our hope together is to touch the lives of others and allow them a glimpse into the world of empowered birth.
I find it amusing how each journalist has mentioned the ‘poo’ in the water. I didn’t edit that out on purpose as I wanted to maintain the raw beauty of the moment. You see we live in a culture that tells us what constitutes beauty. Images and experiences are ‘photoshopped’ for them to appear more desirable than what they really are. As a Midwife as soon as we hear the words “I need to poo” its time to get excited, a babe is ready to be born. It is completely normal, new life is on its way, what a miracle.
A few moments later and this is what it’s all about.
As a photographer my goal is to show the reality of Motherhood, not some prissy edited version. Our culture says we fall short on so many occasions and its my goal to show the beauty of motherhood in all its normal glory so it is attainable for us all despite our shortcomings. There is definitely a time and a place for everything and that is why I didn’t post this particular image on Facebook. I don’t think Facebook is the right platform to show images of this intensity. I am however a strong believer that girls/women need to be exposed to positive and fulfilling birth images and birth stories. We are bombarded with the sexualisation of females and fear inducing negative birth images, no wonder our birth stats are alarming and post traumatic birth is rampant, we seem to have forgotten what our bodies are actually created for, we are breeding ourselves out of the ability to birth without intervention. We need a platform to counteract all the negative with positive images like that of Natalia’s so that we are all made aware of the heightened empowering physical accomplishment and emotional bond that normal birth promotes.
My personal gripe is if Facebook puts rules in place then they need to abide by the rules themselves. I constantly see sexually graphic and violent images on Facebook, why on earth are they there when they so obviously break the rules of conduct??
A few months ago I had this breastfeeding image removed and a 3 day ban put in place because it ‘Violated Community Standards’ however I was under the impression that Facebook supported breastfeeding images. In this beautful moment in time I see a mother who is giving her whole self to her children, physically, emotionally, spiritually, loving them, nurturing and nourishing them. I also see two children who are obviously have a close bond, holding hands while they feed. I certainly do not see anything sexual, I don’t even see a nipple or areola just a breast doing what its meant to do.
Just last night I had this image removed because apparently it contains ‘nudity’. All I see is my leg and a gorgeous squishy vernix covered head being caught by my own hands.
A comment came up on my facebook page last night after it was removed
“As a 17year old teenage girl I looked at that shot and was amazed. Not often is this shown to young women and I think it provides an insight into the beautiful moment all young women have waiting in their futures”.
Now that, makes my heart sing!
This image (a caesarean birth) has been on my page for over a year, an upper thigh replaced by a bare stomach. It hasn’t been reported and yet is still the birth of a baby, covered in vernix and a small amount of blood as is the above image. Perhaps it is what we don’t see in the above image, that which our imagination places in there ie a vagina, that makes it explicit?
So, even within my own photography page there seems to be no consistency regarding banning of photos. And then one looks outside my page to the world of pornography and violence where the inconsistency is outrageous. Personally I would prefer to see an image of a precious babe being born before any kind of violence, slavery, cruelty or pornography. It is a sad reflection of our society when we cannot celebrate the beauty of birth which builds family connections and self worth and yet the worlds of pornography and violence seem acceptable but are tearing families and our community apart.