Earlier this week I shared a photo of this placenta on Facebook. About an hour later I realised the image had been adorned with one of Facebook's 'modesty covers', so you have to click to reveal the image. How ridiculous, I thought, and asked in a further post;
"Are you entertained or exasperated that this picture of a placenta is deemed to be potentially offensive (while the back pages of our red tops are rife with pics of pubescent girls?). How fucked up that placenta = upsetting but hyper-sexualisation = completely normal?"
Apparently, one of my page followers felt neither entertained nor exasperated. She felt the modesty cover to be completely appropriate. Some people, she said, may feel not offence, but disgust, at the sight of any human organ, placenta or otherwise.
And that gave me pause for thought.
I regularly tell people that I have no judgement about birth. I say this because I want ALL women to know they have a right to information, preparation & control over their birth however it happens. I want to offer women freedom & flexibility (not a narrow 'Perfect Birth' goal). I have wanted every woman to feel she has a space here.
But I realised this week, that's not entirely true.
True, I really don't steer women one decision over another. I genuinely don't have an agenda about the wheres, hows or whens of one your birth. It's enough for me to know that you understand the physiological reality of birth, the practical realities of our maternity-care system and the influences on your decision making. You're the only one who can align all that with your values & preferences.
However. I DO mind that women take pride in their bodies & and the value of motherhood. And if disgust is the first sensation you feel when you look at a placenta, then I'm almost definitely not the Woman for you.
Pregnancy, birth, matresence, women's reproductive bodies - all culturally maligned and misunderstood. The implications of which devastating. New mothers feel isolated and alone because often motherhood = purdah. Pregnant women struggle with poor body image, because still in 2019, appearance is the most valuable attribute of femininity. Mothers resign from their jobs, take pay cuts and accept that the fact of their motherhood is a good reason for them to be less valued now than they were before. Persistent and pernicious pruning back of maternity care, breastfeeding support, EYFS services & benefits which blatantly affects a portion of our society who are not only the most vulnerable and voiceless, but who are also the most important (Whitney was never more right than when she tautologised the children are our future). It's the very fact that Milli Hill has had to write a book called Give Birth Like a Feminist, because women accept treatment in maternity care they would not tolerate elsewhere.
So you don't have to eat it. You don't have to encapsulate it. You don't have to bury it, or paint with it or photograph it. But please. Don't, whatever you do, be offended by it.
Charlotte Edun is a doula, hypnobirthing practitioner and Positive Birth Movement Facilitator in Sevenoaks, Kent. She's all about control, where you can apply it & where you can release it.
Click here to book hypnobirthing classes, courses & workshops and doula care with The Good Birth Practice.