Saturday, October 31, 2009

Two rare and stunning (GRAPHIC) views of birth in photography

My attention was just drawn to some absolutely stunning photographs by birth doula, childbirth educator and photographer Patti Ramos. Here she gets seriously up close for some crystal-clear shots of the crowning, emerging head:

To me, this is just gorgeous, not scary or off-putting in the least. It looks like everything is working just exactly as it's meant to, tissues slowly spreading, fanning - taut, yes, but not out of proportion in any way. On the contrary, it seems perfectly proportioned. (I might add that mom's grooming skills are rather remarkable here. Forgive me, but I couldn't help noticing and being pretty impressed.)

I just love seeing how the fontanels overlap here. How beautifully designed!

Almost outta there . . .

The 9 pound, 6 ounce boy (take that, CPD scaremongers) reaches for mama with some peppy jazz hands.

Look at that amazing umbilical cord, pulsing away!

And at last, the placenta, the Tree of Life, as Ramos points out. She has some great shots of it emerging, too, as well as more of the birth overall - please make sure to check out the whole thing.

So after seeing those gorgeous, enlightening shots, I started poking around her site for some more great sets, of which there were plenty. Particularly intriguing to me was this series, showing the unusual presentation of the intact amniotic sac, which emerged FIRST! I never even knew such a thing was possible, did you? Wow!

I then came across this photograph of a uterus just after a c-section, which I had never, ever seen. She aptly titles it "The Wounded Womb". I've seen plenty of c-section-in-progress shots and even a few videos of varying degrees of graphicness, but never a shot of the uterus itself. In fact, I've never seen an actual UTERUS, just representations of them. Even in the cadaver lab I did as a massage therapist, I didn't get to see the uterus. So this was a revelation.

Warning, again, extremely graphic. I will give a little space in case you aren't sure you want to see this.








It is resting on the mother's abdomen, just after the first layer of suturing. Patti points out that the fallopian tubes are visible on either side of the uterus - another revelation; I had never been able to fully visualize them. They kind of look like headphones or Princess Leia buns. But I don't meant to trivialize this. It's both a sobering and a monumental sight.

All these glimpses here, dramatically different as they are, renew my awe of the mighty female body and the resilient glory of childbirth. Thank you Patti, for sharing these.


  1. All of these pics are incredible!

    On sort of another note, I think mom must have had some laser treatments to achieve that level of hairlessness...but ain't nothing wrong with a lady garden, though! Frankly, in order to keep our children safe from sexual abuse I think that as a culture, the hairless look should be reserved for children so as to not create confusion for men...when women are asked to have vulva's that resemble little girls in order to be considered sexy, we are inviting men to think women's natural bodies are unsexy, and that young girls are sexy. It shouldn't surprise us that young girls are the targets of sexual abuse when we actively make everything about their bodies "sexy" Flawless skin and zero body hair don't exist on grown women without money and constant upkeep. Not a precident I want to condone in my home or with my daughters...that being said, I'm certainly all for neat and trimmed though! :)

  2. Mark the calendars, folks, I do believe that this is the first time I will ever disagree with Justine on something! ;o) Not dramatically so, but I must disagree that any actual pedophilia is created by pubic grooming trends. My (birth) mother is actually a prosecutor who specializes in child abuse and especially child sexual abuse (you can imagine how our standard "So, how's work?" conversations go), and spends a lot more time dealing with real pedophiles than anyone should ever have to. Pedophilia is a serious psychological disorder; a 'normal' man is not going to be transformed into a pedophile because of what he's seeing in Playboy (legitimate arguments about the merits of Playboy aside).

    I think these things come in and out of fashion, and I don't really think it's any more harmful than shaving your legs and underarms (not that I assume that you DO, I'm just pointing out that this has been the status quo for a while - something I opted out of for a long time to prove some kind of point to the patriarchy, and eventually discovered that I preferred it for myself).

    To each her own - bare, trimmed, or full glory! It's all fine with me.

  3. Wow, those are amazing. Graphic, but the close shots kind of make it less so, sort of abstract. I didn't even want my husband to look down there, but I think I would be ok with those. The c-section shots are weird for me after having one. I can look at them and kind of think that I should. But I found a video of the whole operation on a med school website and watched it one night, so violent and so surreal to think of my organs outside of my body.

  4. Whats the part in the bottom picture of the uterus that almost looks like teeth or something between the fallopian tubes? Is that a picture of it being stitched up?

    1. Oh definitely being stitched up, yes! Teeth - that would be taking the "vagina dentata" concept to a whole new level . . .