School sex education stops after sex, which in my experience only considers penetrative sex. It involves learning about various forms of contraception and STIs and if you’re lucky you might get shown a birthing video – which I somehow managed to avoid. But what about all the bits after sex like fertility, pregnancy, and post-partum realities?
Just a note, when I am using words like ‘motherhood’ I am referring to those who are recovering from childbirth regardless of gender, and of their parental relationship to the child.
Most students at university are probably avoiding getting pregnant for now, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be educated about it. Sex education is lacking; there is not enough education around masturbation or sex that doesn’t involve a penis and vagina, so I’m not surprised that we’re yet to have any fertility education. It seems to me that education happens when you’re experiencing it for the first time, which I’d argue is too late.
At 22, I know so little about what to expect in pregnancy or birth. I’m not looking to get pregnant any time soon, but I do imagine a future as a parent. Everything I know about childbirth comes from films; you hear a splash of your water breaking, get rushed into the hospital, someone shouts PUSH!, you might squeeze someone’s hand too hard, a baby slips out, and before you know it you’re back to a pre-pregnancy body and on your way out of hospital. But my idealistic and simplified version of pregnancy got shattered when a YouTuber I watch spoke about her experience with postpartum depression – something I’d never given much though to – and the physical recovery needed. Your body needs time to heal after being pregnant for nine months and pushing a baby out, yet we expect women to return to their day-to-day lives. But all I’ve ever seen about pregnancy is glamorised and ends once the baby has been pushed out.
It seems fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth are still taboos. A post-partum care brand, Frida Mom, released an advert showing a new mother with a post-partum belly, wearing a pad and wincing when she pees. I’m sure many mothers can relate to this and it’s time their experiences are validated and represented, and I appreciate the heads up about what to expect if I decide to have children. Yet, the Oscars decided it was inappropriate to show during this year’s awards ceremony for being “too graphic with partial nudity.”
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The ad you’re about to watch was rejected by ABC & the Oscars from airing during this year’s award show. It's not “violent, political” or sexual in nature. Our ad is not “religious or lewd” and does not portray “guns or ammunition”. “Feminine hygiene & hemorrhoid relief” are also banned subjects. It’s just a new mom, home with her baby and her new body for the first time. Yet it was rejected. And we wonder why new moms feel unprepared. So spray it forward and share this video with every new mom. She deserves to be prepared.
Are you kidding? I’ve seen far more ‘graphic’ adverts. As someone who hates horror films, the adverts shown after 9pm are too scary and ‘graphic’ for me, so why is that considered appropriate? In an Instagram post, Frida Mom wrote: “It’s just a new mom, home with her baby and her new body for the first time,” which is exactly what it is. There is no more ‘partial nudity’ than a perfume advert, and it’s no more graphic than a horror film trailer. It’s just realistic and for whatever reason that scared the decision makers of the Oscars. Motherhood is just another topic we’re covering with glitter, along with glamorous period adverts where only white clothes are worn and menstrual blood is blue. Why is there still a stigma?
I decided it was about time to have an honest conversation with my mum about pregnancy and childbirth – thanks mum for putting up with my endless questions and horrified faces. I learnt about tearing – caused when the vagina doesn’t stretch enough for the baby’s head to emerge – which sounds painful and is actually very common. Why had no one mentioned this before? I learnt about how it hurts when you pee for a while, or that breast-feeding isn’t always as easy as it seems. And most importantly, now I know I can ask my mum whatever question I have and we’ll have a supportive conversation about it. I’d never heard about any of these realities, and as Frida Mom wrote “we wonder why new moms feel unprepared.”
Watching an advert is a passive activity, it doesn’t depend on the sex education your school provides, or the conversations you have with adults around you. It’s a shame the Oscars didn’t use their platform to encourage and normalise the conversation around pregnancy because it would be ‘inappropriate’ to show this advert.
Watch the full advert for your own benefit, and stop the stigma around this disucssion. Let’s celebrate postpartum bodies and experiences, instead of hiding it because it’s too ‘graphic’, especially as childbirth is a reality for many parents.