Pregnant Women are Beautiful

Five charity billboards featuring naked pregnant women six metres high were launched recently by Television presenter Kate Garraway, childbirth charity The Jentle Childbirth Foundation, and renowned society photographer Joth Shakerley. The aim of the campaign is to provoke debate on the perception of the pregnant form and the lack of drug-free birthing options available to young mothers today.

The posters are not explicit but certainly will stop traffic. They are designed to spark serious and much needed debate about the perceptions society holds about pregnancy and birth. Stigma surrounding breastfeeding in public still exists and many women do not feel they have a choice of where and how they give birth. Pregnancy is often made to feel like a process rather than the celebration of new motherhood.

The Jentle Childbirth Foundation provides:

  • Information and advice to parents on how to experience a pregnancy which reflects their personal hopes and beliefs
  • Training for midwives on delivering personal care during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Academic research into methods and environments that support a positive and personal pregnancy and birth experience.

All posters are images taken from Joth Shakerley’s book Pregnant Women (Quartet).

‘I have long supported the idea that mothers have the option of a more natural birth. I think this campaign important and I hope that people will really sit up and take notice, and not just of the beautiful photographs, but also the powerful message behind them.’ Tamara Beckwith, Television presenter and mother.

“These posters are beautiful portraits of the most natural and essential experience that life can offer. Pregnancy in modern society can often feel like being in a process rather than the nurturing of new life and love. Pregnancy and childbirth should be the most positive and personal experience, which the Jentle Childbirth Foundation supports through education, training and research.” Jenny Smith, Midwife, mother of four and founder of The Jentle Childbirth Foundation

“In my mother’s generation, pregnancy in this country was definitely a taboo subject. I speak from some personal experience, as my mother, the actress, Virginia Maskell, sadly took her own life, after suffering from post natal depression, a condition that was not treated seriously in 1968. Yet, still today, when I introduced the concept of naked pregnant mothers in a photography book some people expressed outrage and even shock. This made me very sad indeed. Pregnancy is the single thing that allows humanity to continue and to not be able to celebrate it in its most natural form seems to me quite wrong. With this campaign I hope to get people thinking and talking about this all important subject”. Joth Shakerley, Photographer

"I planned a home birth for my second baby, and I hired my own [birthing] pool. When I rang to say I was in labour I was told not enough midwives were on duty for one to attend me at home … I ended up having an assisted delivery with ventouse in a very clinical delivery room, where I felt completely out of control and unhappy." Gillian Merrett-Holmes, 43, Stroud Valleys (Quoted in the Guardian, 26 October, 2009)

“This idea that the pregnant body is anything but the most natural beautiful thing to be celebrated and applauded is crazy. With my second daughter people frowned upon me breast-feeding in public, as though motherhood was something to be ashamed of. Without motherhood we have nothing. I wanted to embrace & celebrate, what motherhood meant to me; what it means to all of us.” Vanessa Clarke, one of the five pregnant mothers featured in the campaign.

"Being photographed naked, late on in my pregnancy, did at first make me feel very nervous and I found it hard to open up and relax but by the end of the session i felt like I had really celebrated the changes I was going through. Pregnancy is a true celebration of life and I felt proud to be a part this unique and worthwhile project". Lara Stapleton, mother, one of the 37 women featured in the book.

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dorothy cope
how absolutely beautiful. pregnant ladies are the most exquisite and truly the most gorgeous creatures ever. The form is awesome and thank you for the web site i will now purchase he wonderful book

Chris Kiely
The ladies are all indeed lovely and their fecund figures poignant portraits of womanhood at it's zenith, at point of renewal of human life. My kudos to this campaign to replace ugliness of falsehood with true beauty in the eyes of those temporarily blinded by parochial prejudice and misguided by fear into thoughtless conformity. Success, peace, and thanks.

Roger Short
To see a pregnant lady in the nude is just so wonderful, great set of pictures

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