Frida Mom’s Rejected Oscars Ad Sparks Postpartum Recovery Conversation
I wasn’t surprised when the Academy Awards and ABC faced a massive backlash for rejecting an ad for postpartum recovery products they decided was “too graphic.” Anyone who’s given birth knows the commercial’s depiction of those early days after childbirth is spot on — and that there are few opportunities for a mom-to-be to truly prepare herself to face the reality of what’s going to happen to her body.
Frida Mom, a company that sells products to help women recover from childbirth, created the 60-second spot that was meant to air during the Oscars. It shows a new mom using the bathroom in the middle of the night. She gets out of bed very gingerly, hobbles to the bathroom, fills her peri bottle and grimaces while she relieves herself, all while a baby cries in the background. You can see her postpartum belly, including the linea nigra, and the giant pad she has taped into her mesh hospital underwear.
Frida Mom posted the video on Instagram and YouTube ahead of the Oscars. As of today, it has been viewed close to 2 million times. Hundreds of moms have left comments on Instagram and YouTube showing their support, and posts about the commercial are flooding the What to Expect Community. “It’s just a new mom, home with her baby and her new body for the first time,” the company wrote in the caption. “Yet it was rejected. And we wonder why new moms feel unprepared.”
I’m one of those new moms who felt unprepared — even though I showed up at the hospital last August better-informed than many of my fellow first-timers. I’m the editorial director for What to Expect, and I spend my workdays editing content about pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum experience. You might assume I’d be an expert because of that.
But the truth is, there’s only so much you can learn from reading words on a page (or website or app) or listening to advice from your mom friends. And when it comes to accurate and detailed depictions of the post-childbirth experience, they’re really hard to find in mainstream media, particularly in ads. Women are shown perfectly groomed, cradling their babies with a smile, no postpartum pooch in sight and with no mention of discomfort whatsoever. In contrast, my first few days home from the hospital, I was panicked because I couldn’t figure out how to get my daughter to latch onto my painfully engorged breasts, the stitches from my first-degree vaginal tear throbbed every time I moved and to top it all off, I stunk because my raging postpartum hormones were giving me hot flashes and I had no time to shower.
By choosing not to air Frida Mom’s Oscars ad, ABC missed an opportunity to make moms feel seen, to give moms-to-be a chance to see an honest portrayal of the postpartum experience and for the rest of the Oscars viewership of 23 million people the chance to create some sorely needed empathy for new moms. The silver lining: perhaps by generating this controversy, ABC enabled Frida Mom to amplify its message.