pregnancy

HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: Please don't feel bad if your birth didn't look like this.

Mood lighting. Eye shadow. Good hair. A tasteful black turtleneck. 

A supportive partner. A best friend. A mum making snacks. 

Looking at Hilary Duff's birth photos made me want to give birth again.

Watch the trailer for Mamamia's podcast, The Delivery Room. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

A birth pool. Her little daughter watching in awe. 

The now mum-of-three gave birth to her baby girl Mae in March, and has just shared the images of the day she came into the world. A home-birth, that went to plan, with a photographer capturing the magic with just the right filter. 

It's beautiful. It's calm. It looks like something you'd want to do over and over.

I couldn't look away, even though my birthing days are well behind me. And nor could the women I work with who, unlike me, hadn't yet given birth. 

Wow. So cool. 

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And then I remembered. Two of my most treasured pictures are me just after giving birth to my two children. Matilda, who's now 11. Billy, who's just nine. 

Almost a decade ago, my tiny babies, all squished and sticky and pink and yellow. My face. Knackered. Happy. Shellshocked. 

But there are no pictures of the during. And thank God for that. I gave birth in hospital, both times. Once in a very speedy early labour. Once in an induced, drawn-out, late one. 

They both took me to places I'd never been. Each time, I turned into someone I'm barely acquainted with, just to get through. 

A screaming, swearing, sweating, terrified animal, as close to my natural, unadorned, raw self as it is possible to be. 

I think about it a lot, how midwives and obstetricians get to see women in their most authentic states, every day, for their jobs. 

And I'm not talking about eyeshadow and pedicures. I'm talking about the way people behave when absolutely everything is at stake. That's what a woman is like when she's delivering a baby, however and wherever it's happening. 

Hilary Duff shared some thoughtful words along with the photos.

“This is hard work … every way a woman brings a baby in is.

“From getting pregnant, to C-sections, hospital or home births, the breast feeding journey (oy vey that one gets me every time) and raising these little beings responsibly to be stand up, confident, kind citizens of the world. It’s completely consuming.

“A tedious, magical, miraculous adventure … So cheers almighty mothers. You make mountains move daily.”

True, that. Having babies, and raising babies is hard work. But in these images, it didn't LOOK like hard work. It looked like a spa day. Or a meditation session with a side of placenta. 

Don't misunderstand me. I love these pictures. 

I believe that the more versions of birth we see in the culture, the better. I believe that giving birth is one of the most profound, life-changing things that can happen to a human, so she'd better have a say in how it happens. 

I believe that whatever it takes to get mother and baby through it safely and as close to sanely as we can hope for is exactly what should happen. 

The Mamamia podcast The Delivery Room is an eight-part series of women talking honestly about having a baby to a woman (host Jessie Stephens) who hasn't had a baby. 

And for eight episodes, there are eight very different stories. 

We could, of course, have made a million episodes, and the stories would all be different. But the intent behind sharing these stories is to show that there's no wrong way, and also, that every way is difficult. Frightening. Incredible. Life-altering. 

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Listen to The Delivery Room here. Post continues below.


But how you look while you do it? Not a consideration. 

If there's an occasion in life where we shouldn't have to worry how photogenic we are - it's this one.

Of course, we document everything, and were more external, more self-conscious than ever. 

How do I look exercising? How do I look shopping? Doing yoga? Baking lockdown sourdough? Playing with my dog? Having dinner with my girlfriends? Having sex?

The event of giving birth, however it happens, is not about what it looks like. In what should not be a spoiler alert, there's blood, there's slime, and goo, and (most likely) poo. And tears. And snot. None of these things look any prettier with filters applied.

So look at these pictures of Hilary Duff's gorgeous home birth. Admire the strength and composure of a woman doing the most ordinary, completely extraordinary thing that humans can do. 

But don't for a minute think that's what birth looks like for everyone. Or even, what birth looks like at all. 

And certainly don't think, as I did for a fleeting moment, that you wished yours had been that pretty. 

It's the least interesting thing about it.

Feature Image: Instagram / @hilaryduff

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