This Woman’s Viral Picture Is Inspiring Women to Share Postpartum Stories
When Danielle Haines posted a topless picture of herself three days postpartum, holding her newborn to her chest, she was hoping it would reach maybe 10 to 15 women on Facebook. She’d also posted the photo in a private Facebook group for a birthing class she teaches. The group members were talking about postpartum that week, and she thought the picture would be a great example.
More than 21,000 shares later, the photo has resonated well beyond her birthing class. Now, she’s using it to send a message to all women: embrace your postpartum experience and all the emotions that come with it.
“I was really raw and open,” Haines, who’s currently a student midwife, told The Mighty. “I was missing my husband who had gone to work. I was processing deep anger from my relationship with my mother. I was wishing I could get my dishes done. I had just let a baby out of my body — I was feeling everything. It’s powerful because women are powerful. It’s vulnerable because I had no where to hide.”
The picture was taken by Haines’ sister Sarah, who’d come to visit and drop off food. Her good friend and fellow birth doula Katie DiBenedetto, who’d also been helping Haines during her postpartum time, was tagged in the picture’s caption. As she started reading the comments flooding in, she knew she had to do something with them.
“A lot of the comments were long and beautiful stories that also deserved to be heard,” DiBenedetto said. “I’m a writer, I’ve always liked to document things. I thought, ‘These stories are too good not to go somewhere.'”
So they started Postpartum Confession, a space for woman to share their postpartum experiences. The site’s tag is, appropriately, “Raw. Honest. Unfiltered.”
“After helping Danielle postpartum, it made me wish every woman could see this, because we romanticize motherhood,” DiBenedetto said. “Let’s just be real.”
With her baby boy Ocean now 10 months old, Haines hopes new mothers will learn to accept help during their postpartum time. According to Postpartum Support International, while many women experience mild mood changes during or after the birth of a child, 15 to 20 percent of women experience more significant symptoms of depression or anxiety.
“We’re embarrassed to have someone come into our house because it’s not clean, so we shy away from help,” Haines said. “It’s OK to be vulnerable. It’s OK to be emotional. It’s OK to say yes to help and yes to people.”