By Tui Benjamin
These are the photographs Instagram didn’t want you to see – a gallery of childbirth images previously banned from the app ‘for being pornographic’.
Australian birth photographer and doula Selena Rollason, 39, has shared the selection of dramatic and arresting snaps to celebrate a petition victory over the social media site.
Earlier this week, it was announced graphic images of childbirth, or those featuring nudity in the context of childbirth, would no longer be blocked from Instagram.
To mark the win, mum-of-four Selena, from Brisbane, has released a gallery of her favourite photos from over the years which have all at one stage been taken down from the app – or even had her account suspended.
Previously, Instagram’s censorship policies categorised physiological images of birth alongside offensive pornography, graphic violence and profanity.
Selena, who has run Brisbane Birth Photography (@brisbanebirthphotography) since 2011, said: “Pretty much all of these photos have been taken down from social media, or I’ve not been able to comfortably post them for fear they would be banned.
“In particular, some of the images which show babies crowning have been reported and taken down multiple times.
“One black and white photo of labour was shared all over the world by so many different social media accounts, but it was reported multiple times.
“Instagram’s policies would say these photos are pornographic obscene content, because they show nudity, too much skin, or nipples.
“It is actually devastating and gut-wrenching to see that happen. These are not sexualised – they are educational images and birth is a natural process.
“Yes, some people may find the photos graphic and confronting, but they are demystifying the birth process.
“By banning these photographs, Instagram was saying it was not OK to educate women on the realities of birth, and show them it is not something to be afraid of.
“It is so important to have photos like these out there to reduce taboos, and social media is a key platform to do this.
“It is such a relief Instagram have made this decision, it makes me happy to know the world has seen sense.”
The petition to allow uncensored birth images on Instagram was launched in December 2017 by US doula Katie Vigos from the @empoweredbirthproject and racked up more than 23,000 signatures.
Announcing the news, which also covers Facebook since both sites are governed by the same policies, Katie posted: “FB / IG has been working hard to update their technology and decrease censorship.
“Due to the extensive process required to implement this change within FB / IG, there may still be some glitches (i.e. random / accidental censorship) as they train their global team of employees and modify their software to recognize ALL birth related media as acceptable content.”