The night before her daughter's first birthday, Francie was feeling particularly nostalgic — as most moms would on such an occasion. She reminisced about the moment she gave birth to her baby girl, from the rapid progression of labor to the moment she, without any assistance, got on her hands and knees in bed and guided the newborn out into her own arms.
"It was an incredible, epic, transformative experience," the mom told POPSUGAR. "I wanted to scream from the rooftops. I was so moved by it that I had to share it."
So, that night, she did what she did nearly a year earlier: she shared a photo of that moment — in which Francie, staring at her baby with euphoric love, happened to be naked — to a private Facebook group called NYC Birth, which has less than 900 members.
The caption along with the photo read:
Today it's been one year since this happened. Where do I even begin? I am humbled. I am grateful. I am speechless. I am a badass. I am so glad my baby is one year old. And I just can't believe it.
"I was definitely surprised," she told us. "My first reaction was, 'Really? Are you kidding me?' I knew it was a possibility, but it had been up there for a year the first time before I reposted it. And it always got nothing but positive feedback."
Francie, an educator who also runs TheMilkinMama, which teaches mothers how to hand-express milk, can empathize with the fact that "people are uncomfortable with things that are unfamiliar to them," but that's why she purposefully avoided sharing the post on her own Facebook feed. She deliberately shared it in a private group where she'd have the support of like-minded people. Her gut is that whoever reported the image did so "not because it's gross" but because "birth can be triggering for those whose experiences weren't positive or were downright traumatic."
Still, just because someone takes issue with a post on social media doesn't mean it must be removed. Why was this image the exception?
According to the Facebook nudity policy, the platform currently prohibits images of genitalia or fully exposed buttocks, with naked bodies depicted in artwork handled on a case-by-case basis. Images of breasts are prohibited unless they show a postmastectomy scar or a woman actively breastfeeding.
"Facebook's policy says breastfeeding is natural, but so is birth," Francie said, suggesting that the company simply adds "actively birthing" to the shortlist of exceptions. Either that, or face off against a new grassroots campaign akin to the ever-growing #normalizebreastfeeding and #freethenipple movements. In fact, Francie, alongside her friends at the Human Birth Project, is already getting the word out with the #humanbirth hashtag. (For the record, she believes Facebook will change its policy.)
She's since been reinstated into the private group, and although she laughs about it, the experience hasn't quieted her desire to share those powerful life moments.
"It doesn't take away from her birth," she said. "It's still my story, and I'll honor it in the ways that feel right to me. Doing so helps me, and it will help others. If I have the opportunity to empower other women, why wouldn't I? Bottom line . . . we need each other."