A photographer’s raw image of a woman who just gave birth is an important reminder to keep the focus on mums.
As everyone in the birthing room was gathered around the new baby, Florida photographer Alex Michele captured a picture of the mother. Her Facebook post of the image has since gone viral. In her post, Michele encourages people to remember to support the mum, and not just dote on the new baby.
“I saw you, mama. I saw the pain in your eyes and in your face and in your body,” Michele wrote in the post.
“Because this is now a new season called postpartum. We tend to forget our mamas when babies are around. We ask how baby is, what does baby need, can we hold the baby, can we buy this for the baby but ... what about mama?”
Postpartum care is neglected far too often. According to a recent study by Orlando Health, up to 40 per cent of women say they feel overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed after giving birth but are failing to show up to their first postpartum appointment.
But the sentiment of Michele’s post moves past the doctor appointments and mental-health-checks (that new mums are not showing up for) and discusses what mums really need after giving birth.
“Meals dropped off, someone to watch baby so they can shower, solid child care for her other children, house cleaners to stop by and help out. Heating pads and coffee and comfy PJs. Maybe fast food. Or a friend to fold laundry. Maybe a new movie to watch or your Netflix login,” Michele wrote.
In other words, new mums really want is someone to understand how difficult this period is for them, and sit with them in it. They want a friend physically around so they can take a shower or lend a hand in the never-ending laundry.
It truly takes a village
Although Michele’s post is resonating with people, it may not be because they haven’t had others show up for them. Many commenters recounted the ways in which their local communities have quietly supported them.
“When I had my second child, a friend tucked a gourmet tea bag into the card with a note saying that I was not to bother writing her a thank you note, but to use that time to make myself a delicious cup of tea,” one mum said in the comments. She was so touched by the gift that she now includes a tea bag when reaching out to other new-mums, she added.
WATCH: This is why mums feel so alone. Story continues below.
“It truly takes a village but it also takes self care and love,” added another. “As a military spouse thousands of miles away from family and friends at a new place, and having a two-month-old, it’s been rough!” She added that her local community has been wonderfully supportive.
Many of the other comments encourage new mums to reach out if nobody is coming to them first.
A heartbreaking detail makes the photo even more poignant
But what truly made the commenters emotional about mums supporting each other was the added detail that Michele was having a miscarriage as she took the photos. Michele’s fiancee Nicholas Zimmer revealed the detail in a comment on the Facebook post.
“She didn’t hesitate to put her emotions on hold and head straight back to the hospital (after six hours in the ER) to photograph this moment in her friend’s life,” he commented.
He was especially struck by the way these two women were able to support each other through two very different, but equally difficult, situations.
“It’s an amazing thing watching women supporting each other in such contrasting moments.”