Instagram Changes Policy To Allow Childbirth Photos

Instagram Changes Policy To Allow Childbirth Photos

Instagram and other social media networks have come under fire in recent years for their blanket ban on photographs depicting images of childbirth.

Social media networks have been accused of censoring women’s bodies and there have been numerous campaigns, such as #savethenipple, calling for an end to this type of censorship.

Instagram Changes Policy To Allow Childbirth Photos

Until now, social media networks have removed all photographs showing breastfeeding, menstruation and childbirth.

Couples expecting their first child often have no idea what to expect in the delivery room. Childbirth is shrouded in secrecy.

It shouldn’t be.

Some expectant parents don’t know what birth looks like. They have never seen women in labour before and this secrecy can actually make birth feel even more daunting.

Birth is something that usually happens behind closed doors, but now birth photographers around the world are trying to break this taboo.

Birth might be a private and intimate thing, but the stunning and emotive photographs they take can be shared with the world. Obviously this would only be done with the permission of the new mum; nobody shares images without consent.

No other human experience comes close to childbirth. It is a primal display of female empowerment. Photographs of birth show the strength and beauty of a woman at a pivotal moment in her life.

Across the Western world, the number of childbirth interventions is rising. More and more c-sections are being performed, and women are losing faith in their own bodies. Simply put, modern women find it difficult to trust the birth process.

Advocates for positive birth are trying to change all that. They are yelling from the rooftops about their positive birth experiences and they are helping women to heal from less positive birth experiences. They are also sharing birth stories and birth photography online.

Until now, social media networks have been making this downright impossible. Birth photographs that show nudity have been classed as ‘pornographic’ and removed from social networking sites, making it difficult for positive birth photographers to share their photographs.

Let’s get one thing straight right now: birth is not pornographic. Pornographic material has absolutely no place on social media.

Birth photography is beautiful, natural, and educational; it should be celebrated, not censored.

From a feminist perspective, many of us find it unacceptable for male bosses of social media companies to decide childbirth images are pornographic or offensive. We are tired of men telling us what we can and can’t do with our bodies.

Birth campaigners have been calling for an end to this censorship in recent years and one petition calling for Instagram to stop censoring birth images has attracted over 20,000 signatures. The petition was set up by Katie Vigos, a mother and a nurse, who runs the Empowered Birth Project. Vigos has over 300,000 followers on Instagram where she shares powerful photographs of birth.

When she started the campaign, her photographs were regularly taken down by Instagram. She even had her account suspended for sharing ‘graphic content’ (aka birth). With the launch of her petition, Vigos was able to attract the attention of social media bosses.

The social media bigwigs listened and, in a long-awaited move, responded to people’s demands. Instagram and Facebook recently announced a change of policy: uncensored images of childbirth will be allowed on the social networks. Nudity will be allowed in the context of childbirth and the networks will no longer classify the images as ‘offensive material’.

This move is a victory for the positive birth movement. Stunning birth images will now reach and inspire a wider online audience, showing people anything is possible when it comes to childbirth. It’s also a victory for women: finally, our nipples and vulvas will not be considered offensive.

This story is proof that if we shout loud enough, we can bring about real change – even when it means convincing huge global companies that photos of the vulva should be available online.

Facebook and Instagram have warned there might be glitches in the coming months, and some images could be mistakenly flagged as inappropriate. This is because they need to change their processes, and their staff need to be trained to classify all birth photography as acceptable.

Get ready to see a whole lot of beautiful birth photographs in your feed. Warning: these images might make you broody.

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Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.

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