When Photographer Helen Aller shared this image of a woman and her newborn, fresh C-section scar fully visible, she had no idea it would provoke a worldwide reaction.
So far 216,065 people have ‘liked’ the post on Facebook, over 11.5 million have seen the image, and plenty more have now read about it in the mainstream media.
The rawness of the photograph, taken just days after the birth where the woman, who has chosen to remain nameless, had to have an emergency caesarean, has caught the attention of people the world over.
Explaining the story behind the photograph, Helen, who is based in Guernsey and is currently eight months pregnant herself, writes:
“I photographed this mama's pregnancy a while back and she was telling me how terrified she was of having a C-section. Well last week she went into labour but had to have an emergency C-section after complications. She asked me to come over this morning and shoot this particular image as her worst nightmare proved to be what saved her and her child's lives.”
Now, the powerful image is being praised by women who have themselves undergone C-sections, for opening up the public conversation surrounding both the struggle of dealing with and recovering from a caesarean, as well as feelings towards the scars.
From feelings of guilt about not being able to deliver their baby naturally, to embarrassment and shame about the scars on their abdomens, women everywhere have opened up about what it’s really like to have a C-section.
One woman writes on Facebook beneath Helen’s image:
“To have a C-section is not easy! You feel them pull and tear you. Not the pain but the movements. And you usually vomit which isn't easy. Then take months to recover. You can't just get up and walk. Every time you cough (i had flu b at the time) your [sic] in agony and feel like your stitches are going to burst. C-sections are hard work. I feel ashamed for not trying harder but the drs tell me that I couldn't. This mum is Beautiful!”
While one father chose to respond to negative comments surrounding the topic, with a moving dedication to his wife:
“A good mother isn't defined by the process of labour or whether she breast fed or not a good mother is defined by the sacrifices and love she gives to her children. Both our children were delivered by C-section and I can assure you it's not the easy option by any means. It's just as scary and the recovery if [sic] far more painful and long lasting than labour.”
"And as for the negative comments about the scar....I love my wife's scars as they show the sacrifice she made to safely bring our children into this world. That's what makes a good mother, not 'natural births' or breast feeding or anything else, just because their choices where different from yours doesn't give you the right to judge them.”
Helen says that she's now prouder than ever of the photograph, because it’s allowed so many people to open up about their experiences and connect with each other.
Talking to the Huffington Post, she says: “To me it’s a beautiful image that shows both a struggle and something beautiful. I have received so, so many stories from C-section mums saying how it has changed the way they look at their scars.”
"I can’t believe the amount of women that are ashamed of their scars and are made to feel like they haven’t done the job properly because they didn’t give birth naturally. In fact I am stunned. Giving life shouldn’t be a competition of how you did it.”
Words: Amy Lewis