A couple of months ago I came across some portraits by a photographer who had decided to photograph women and their newborn babies one day after the birth. I was interested, I wanted to relate to these women, but on looking at the images, I found that I couldn't.
Not all of the women were immaculately dressed, some of them looked a little tired, but they were all at home, with their unblemished bundles, and none of them looked bedridden.
Xanthe and Louie - By Jenny Lewis
As a mother, I look with interest at artwork depicting motherhood, but the problem I have with these photos is that they have excluded a vast amount of mothers with valid birth experiences. They don't show the C section mother, the mother that is without her newborn because it is stuck in an SCBU, the mother who is still in hospital following other complications, the mother of a premature baby.
I decided to write about this because I today saw an article about the photographs (and book) in Oh Comely magazine, whos demographic is young women. These photographs will be seen by young women who do not yet have children and they will show a reality that is unachievable for many women. By only showing women who were lucky enough to have a good birth experience and be home within 24 hours they glamorise birth and make it appear easy. Yes it may be easy for some women, but many women, especially first time mothers, experience complications.
Nicola and Jemima
I may be sensitive due to my own experiences of birth and recovery, but I can guarantee I am not the only one. When will we start to see images and programmes which show a range of motherhood experiences, rather than one extreme or the other? On one side of the scale we have these beautiful, well lit images of women at home with their babies, on the other side we have programmes like One Born Every Minute, with hospital beds and bright lights and epidurals. When will we see that there is a huge range of experiences?