‘I was so raw and so open’: The emotional postpartum picture that every new mum should see

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  • New motherhood is an emotional rollercoaster, but the ups and downs of the first few days are something that many women try to hide.

    It’s for this reason that student midwife Danielle Haines’ latest Facebook post has caught the eye of more than 22,000 people, as she explains the overwhelming nature of the days after giving birth to son Ocean in 2014, and how she was ‘kind of losing her mind’.

    Danielle, from Phoenix, Arizona, originally shared the heartfelt post on a private Facebook group connected to a birthing class, but then decided to open it up to her personal page too, and the response was incredible.

    ‘I shared that photo and my thoughts to the private group so that the women could see my rawness and my emotion and my vulnerability,’ Danielle told Buzzfeed Life. ‘After looking at the post I decided, ‘Why not post this on my personal page?’ It’s a wonderful message.’

    Danielle’s vulnerable post in full

    Image: Facebook/Danielle Haines

    ‘This is a picture of me 3 days postpartum. I was so raw and so open, I was a fucking mess. I loved my baby, I missed his daddy (he went back to work that day), I was mad at my mom, my heart hurt for my brother because my mom left us and now I had a little boy that looked like him, my nipples were cracked and bleeding, my milk was almost in, my baby was getting really hungry, I was feeling sad that people kill babies, like on purpose, I had not slept since I went into labor, I didn’t know how to put my boobs away, my vagina was sore from sitting on it while nursing constantly, I was kinda loosing my mind.’

    ‘Katie came over and feed me the morning this picture was taken. She might have even stopped over to feed me lunch. Then one of my 7 sisters came that evening to bring the family dinner, Sarah. Sarah took this picture of me. She walked in with food and said, “Hi! How are you!?” I said, “I’m a mess.” We talked, she listened, she said, “I’ve been right where you are.” It helped to know she went crazy once too!!! Then she said, “I know this might sound crazy but do you have a camera? You look so raw and so beautiful.” I’m so glad she took this picture. She was just planning to drop off food. She ended up staying for much longer.’

    ‘I needed her. She knew it. I called Rachel, I needed her. I needed her to nurse my baby, I needed more help with his latch. I called Shell. I needed her to tell me my baby was ok. This is real PP mamas. Those of you who have done it before….will you share what your immediate PP felt like?’

    ‘I had a magical Postpartum. It wasn’t easy but I was so supported and fed and reminded that the mothers before me had been through this part of motherhood, and that I’d get through it just fine too.’

    In addition to the 22,000 shares (at the time of writing), Danielle has received an outpouring of supportive comments from parents who related to her journey.

    ‘This brought tears of pain and validation to my eyes…. For the lack of support I’ve had PP with both my babies, for the continued depression up until this past month… Thank you for sharing… More women need to know that they are not alone,’ one commenter wrote.

    Another echoed: ‘I’m crying too. We’ve talked about it. At first I felt like an utter failure and disappointment from A’s birth. I was also incredibly happy he was here safe and sound. He was/is so wonderful and beautiful. On the drive home from the hospital I was in so much pain. I broke down sobbing. I don’t know what I would have done without the amazing support system that I had. So many wonderful people came to my rescue.’

    Since the remarkable response to this original image, Danielle and her friend, web designer Katie DeBenedetto, have created a website to allow other women to detail their postpartum experience – you can see their stories at www.postpartumconfession.com.

    ‘Postpartum Confessions is a space for women to share their postpartum stories. It was inspired by all of the beautiful responses to Danielle’s viral facebook post about her postpartum experience,’ the pair explain on the site.

    ‘The overwhelming connection that other women were feeling inspired us to get this website up quickly! We wanted a place for all of these stories to go.’

    ‘A place where women can read other women’s experiences and share their own. To remind us that all the beautiful and intense moments of our postpartum time are not experienced alone.’