Moms Speak Up After ABC Refuses to Air Ad About Postpartum Products

This commercial for Frida Mom postpartum products was denied airspace by ABC during the Oscars broadcast. (YouTube)

Frida, a mother and baby retailer, released a commercial this week in support of its range of postpartum recovery products. In the one-minute ad, a new mom is seen struggling to walk, use the bathroom and deal with cumbersome pads. Frida says it released the commercial on YouTube because the ABC network refused to air it during Sunday's Oscars. "It's just a new mom," the new intro to the ad states, "home with her baby and her new body for the first time. Yet it was rejected."

The clip is an unflinching look at what new mothers physically cope with in the days and weeks following vaginal birth—something that remains taboo in American media. While television and movies have become more honest in recent decades about the realities of birthmenstruation and postpartum depression, the physically messy and painful aftermath of childbirth remains absent from our screens.

We caught up with seven moms to find out how they feel about the Frida Mom commercial, as well as ABC's decision. They had a lot to say.

Renee Pickup, mother of one
"I think for the most part we don’t show this stuff because we want to exalt motherhood and the newborn time as this super positive, beautiful thing—without realizing how disenfranchising and dehumanizing that is for women. We’re not supposed to matter—not even to ourselves. We pretend it’s all beautiful, and not painful or lonely. Motherhood as martyrhood."

Sponsored

Stephanie Reeder, brand new mom
"I'm pissed that they would ban this ad because the recovery is never talked about and it's been the very worst part for me. The ad is totally accurate. Not only are you exhausted and sleep-deprived, but the pain is unreal—every bone and muscle in your whole body is trashed. Then the stinging of pee and the absolute terror of trying to poop—which is still an issue for me, five weeks postpartum, by the way. Honestly, once baby is here, no one really cares about what mom is going through. No one wants to talk about the nitty gritty of childbirth. It's always been that way. This ad wasn't refused airtime because of nudity, it was refused broadcast because of patriarchal ideas of what women should look like."

Rhiannon, mother of three kids under 4
"Wow. That ad actually made me feel happy-sad! Just the rawness and honesty! I totally felt like that lady looks after birth. I couldn’t close my legs as I walked, so I shared her waddle. I bled a lot. I’m guessing she has hemorrhoids too. All I had were maternity pads and big [panties]. I thought I was ruined down there forever because it’s not something people talk about. I haven’t seen or heard of these products she’s using, which is probably because the adverts are banned and nobody talks about this! It’s certainly not sexy, but I don’t really understand why they’d stop someone from advertising these products. Probably because it makes men feel uncomfortable? It’s ridiculous. I suppose a network might think it would make its viewers uncomfortable and that might affect its ratings. But it wouldn’t make me feel that way—I find it strangely comforting."

Rachel Eling, mother of two
"In the first few days, going to the [bathroom] is terrifying. If you have stitches, or a small tear that's left to heal naturally, or even if things are just a bit—I don't know—sore because you just passed an eight-pound person through a very small passage, urinating feels like pouring acid on an open wound. Because essentially you're pouring acid on an open wound! And you're bleeding heavily for at least 6 weeks. Motherhood on screen is either dysfunctional and abusive, or nurturing and idyllic. On film—mainstream film and TV anyway—women's bodies are for sex, looking at and for killing. When Margot Robbie gets an Oscar nom for a film where she barely has any lines, we know that a woman's body is the most important thing about her—and that body had better not be leaking. Of course this isn't for Hollywood!"

Alexis Brooks, mother of one
"That ad is super accurate. I still have those mesh panties! I also bought Depends, based on recommendations. I have no idea why this ad would be refused airtime, other than the fact that she doesn't look perfect. American society is obsessed with sex but entirely unwilling to see a version of a woman in a minor state of undress that doesn't fit with what is broadly considered attractive. This amount of nudity is only considered vulgar if the woman doesn't look the way we want her to."

Rachel Roberts, mother of one.
"This is very realistic—the stitches and the feeling that your insides are about to drop right out through your vagina at any point. No one tells you about it. After birth, the nurse made me go and have a bath and I felt like I was going to die. I was just lying in this hospital bath bleeding, without my baby and terrified. Nothing can prepare you for that feeling of being scared to walk because of the pain, and the amount of blood loss. The truth is, it's actually really f--king messy and not cute in any way. I think it isn’t put out there because it ruins the ‘romantic' newborn baby thing."

Sponsored

Lucy Walters, mother of two.
"I related to all of that clip. Honestly you can go to all the midwife appointments, and all the anti-natal classes, yet no one tells you how awful it is afterwards. Not to mention that first pee after having a baby. You're there trying to work it out, thinking 'Maybe it will be easier if I sit this way, or aim this way?' Or the fact that everyone acts like your vagina might be a bit sore, but the reality is that even sitting up in bed is a challenge. This ad is great because it actually shows people the reality: 'This is how you will feel, but there are things that will help. You're going to feel ruined, but don't worry, it’s normal.' We need that because when it happens to you the first time, you don't think it is. We deserve the honesty of seeing what it's really like before we have to do it."

Volume
KQED Live
Live Stream
Log In ToPledge-Free Stream
LATEST NEWSCAST
KQED
NPR
Live Stream information currently unavailable.
Share
LATEST NEWSCAST
KQED
NPR
KQED Live

Live Stream

Live Stream information currently unavailable.