I woke up this morning and got my husband off to work. I did my morning meditation and then scrolled a little through Facebook before I started my day. That’s when I saw it. I got giddy seeing one of my birth images front and center on the Improvingbirth.org Facebook page that was a re-post from this Huffington Post Article featuring images of Dad’s in the delivery room. I was excited at first, and then I got upset.
I decided to check out the comments expecting to read people celebrating incredible moments captured by so many amazing photographers. The families who have shared such intimate moments are on the forefront of an incredible movement – professionally documenting their birth because it’s a life changing day worthy of remembering every moment. It takes tremendous courage to invite a “stranger” into your birth space to capture such an intimate moment. It takes even more courage and vulnerability to allow the photographers to share these moments with the world. I am not speaking for all birth photographers in this post, but I am rather disappointed in the comments on this post. They are like many I have seen before on birth images. I was upset to see people commenting their opinions about birth positions and perceived interventions used, rather than about the incredible moments documented.
It is my opinion that a negative opinion about another persons birth experience, especially when you only have assumptions based on an image, shouldn’t be vocalized. It matters only how the person giving birth feels about their birth. You don’t know what their risk level was, what led them to make the decisions about how, where, and why to give birth the way that they did. To assume someone didn’t know their options, or that they were incapable of making the right choices for their birth, is to sink into psychological biases where we over simplify information, and fill in characteristics from stereotypes, generalities, and prior histories.
I have attended home births where mothers were fully supported and free to birth in any position they wanted, only to end up wanting to give birth on their back. I have witnessed mothers who needed an IV because they couldn’t keep any fluids down, and go on to have a pain medicine free vaginal birth in the hospital. Cindy Crawford talks about ending up giving birth on her back and feeling that was the best for her in the documentary “More Business of Being Born Part 2”. When we make these negative comments based on visual assumptions, we are encouraging women and their families to not share their birth stories in fear of judgement.
When we make these negative comments based on visual assumptions, we are encouraging women and their families to not share their birth stories in fear of judgement.
When we do this, we will stunt the knowledge sharing of what goes on during births across the world. Un-informed comments could end up limiting improvements and innovations in birth itself. You can have an incredible birth experience giving birth at home on your knees, or in a pool of water. You can have an incredible birth experience under the bright lights in the O.R. You can also have an incredible birth experience in the hospital with your legs in stirrups, an epidural in your back, and an OB telling you to push your baby out. What matters most is that a family feels supported in their birth. That they were able to make decisions about their options, and didn’t feel bullied into anything. Until you are asked for your opinion about someones birth experience, after being given all the information, I encourage you to simply comment on the beauty of the moment.