Local photographer's postpartum photo goes viral

Viral photo makes big statement about maternal mental health

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Every birthing experience that results in a healthy baby can bring a sense of relief and satisfaction. Most moms have a sense of joy welcoming their new baby. But, something else is being experienced as well -- pain. Physical and mental anguish can be overlooked in the postpartum phase of birth. Whether you're a first-time-mom or a mom of multiple children, feelings of anxiety and exhaustion can wipe you out.

Birth photographer Alex Dovel, owner of  Alex Michele Photography,  took a picture of her friend Tammy Wright after she welcomed a baby boy May 20. The image of Wright immediately following the birth of her baby went viral. It quickly got more than 170,000 shares on Facebook.

Many of Dovel's Facebook followers commented "thank you." They shared how authentic and relevant the picture was to what moms experience, but have a hard time talking about. Many women go under the radar after their baby is born. Family and friends redirect their care and concern to the newborn, and unintentionally neglect the mother at a very critical time in her recovery.

The black and white photo shows Wright alone. She is curled up in pain on the side of her hospital bed. It showed a moment when everyone around her was in awe of the new baby.
Dovel shared the photo on Facebook captioning, "I saw you, mama. I saw the pain in your eyes and in your face and in your body. Because this is now a new season called postpartum. We tend to forget our mamas when babies are around. We ask how baby is, what does baby need, can we hold the baby, can we buy this for the baby but... what about mama?"

Dr. Kim-Ashchi, an obstetrician and gynecologist at St. Vincent’s Hospital, says she was so happy to see the picture. She told News4Jax reporter Ashley Spicer that some women can feel neglected.
Medical experts say almost every woman has baby blues. If they cannot get over it, women can experience postpartum depression.

Dr. Kim-Ashchi has some tips for moms and their support group after recovering from child birth:
•    It's not wrong to ask for help. 
•    Don't be too rough on yourself. 
•    Offer kind words to the woman who just had a baby. 
•    Offer a meal
•    Ask for some time off from the baby to have time with your partner or even exercise.

The woman photographed is doing really well according to the photographer. Dovel says talking about these experiences can be healing. "Community support makes it easier to get through it," she says.