This is the only thing we should be telling new mums


IT'S not unusual to see a splatter of blood in Lacey Barratt's birth photography. Same goes for a bright red placenta in all its life-sustaining glory, still attached to a newborn.

The Melbourne photogapher champions the normalisation of real births: primal, raw, vulnerable. It's stuff you'd never see in a Hollywood film.

When Lacey recently posted a photo of a father holding his moments-old son, still attached to the placenta, and someone made a negative comment, she had a lot to say.

The photo of father, son and placenta that sparked the controversy
The photo of father, son and placenta that sparked the controversy Lacey Barratt | Facebook

The comment read, "the placenta ruins this beautiful image, but that's just my opinion."

Lacey responded by posting a photo of herself, in labour, sitting on a toilet and breastfeeding her one-year-old.

"Stop. Right there. Opinion accepted," Lacey wrote. "… don't you dare spew your birth shaming hatred in the name of 'opinion and freedom of speech.' Birth shaming is making a mother feel ashamed or guilty for her birth choices … birth shaming can amplify postpartum depression, including postpartum psychosis."

she goes on to talk about a mother's (definitely exhausted, probably emotional) state of mind when she's just had a baby "… thinking before we speak to a new mother can be critical in her mental stability and emotional well-being.

When a mother is so newly postpartum small comments like this can make the difference between having a blissful babymoon and converting it to a dark secluded period of time rethinking her choices and how she perceives her birth experience," she wrote.

Lacey's stance on birth choices is simple: whatever the mother chooses is the right choice for her.

"So what if you ate your placenta, you buried it, you disposed of it as 'toxic waste' and 'biohazardous material', you blended it, encapsulated it, smoothied it, cut the cord, didn't cut the cord, delayed cutting the cord or ate that sh*t raw … I think it's time we all come together as birthing women and say, 'Job well done you badass. You did it.' And stop shaming women for their choices…" she said.

As for Lacey, she chose to labour at home with her children present.

Her four children heard her "loud primal contractions", but that didn't stop her one-year-old wanting to latch on while his mum sat on the toilet trying to encourage the baby to move down.

The idea that birth shaming can deepen a postpartum mother's depression is a topic close to Lacey's heart.

The mother of five posted her own postpartum photo earlier this year. She thought she looked proud, but a friend saw the numbness behind her eyes and asked if Lacey was OK.

The postpartum photo was selected for an AIPP award
The postpartum photo was selected for an AIPP award Lacey Barratt | Facebook

It was only then that she saw what the photo really revealed: exhaustion, numbness, a bit of depression, which just like joy and rapture, are perfectly normal things to feel after birth.

"Feeling disconnected after a birth whether it be positive, supported and empowering OR traumatic, disempowered and poorly supported is NORMAL," she wrote.

"Our emotions are everywhere. The stories I have received from sharing these images are a strong reminder that I am not alone, and I am very normal."

This article originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished here with permission.