Like many a proud papa, the actor took to Instagram to share a photo of him holding his fifth child, but this shot included a warning about the picture’s “graphic” nature.
In the image, a shirtless Van Der Beek holds his newborn daughter, Gwendolyn, who is still attached to her umbilical cord and placenta, which is on the floor next to him in a mixing bowl.
James’ son is also present in the shot, dressed in a Spiderman costume, as you do!
The accompanying caption warns users that the picture may be too much for some.
“The category is: Home-Birth Realness. (Word of caution, if you’re squeamish, just double-tap and move on,” Van Der Beek wrote.
“Messy bed ✔️ Plastic sheeting underneath old sheets ✔️Old towel crumpled on the floor ✔️ Vomit bag (unused) ✔️ Inflatable birthing tub (also unused)✔️Shirtless Dad ✔️Boy in Spider-Man pajamas ✔️Happy, healthy baby ✔️ Happy, healthy Mom in her own shower right after giving birth ✔️ Water bottle ✔️And… placenta in a mixing bowl ✔️ (I warned you).”
On Sunday, the 41-year-old announced that he and his wife Kimberly had welcomed a baby daughter named Gwendolyn.
“Thrilled to announce we welcomed a brand new baby girl into the world Friday morning, just in time for #FathersDay,” the 41-year-old actor posted on Instagram. Gwendolyn joins older siblings Olivia, 7, Joshua, 6, Annabel Leah, 4, and Emilia, 2.
Despite the disclaimer about the candid shot, the photo received praised from fans for throwing light on the home birth process.
“I cannot yell PREACH to this loud enough!” one user wrote. “Thank you both for being advocates for birth (breech or otherwise) as a normal physiological process. Massive love to all of you from a very grateful UK midwife xxx”
“Breaking the stigma 🙂 good for you,” another fan commented.
“I love everything about this. Thank you for bringing awareness to something so real and much needed,” yet another fan wrote.
Of course there was the odd comment from those who deemed the image inappropriate for social media.
“I am very happy for you, but there are things that I personally would never share on the internet … a bit of privacy should everyone get..” one user wrote.
Gwendolyn wasn’t the only one of the couple’s children to be born at home. As Kimberly described in a 2012 blog post for People, Olivia was born in a hospital but the remainder of their kids were all welcomed at home.
To home birth or not to home birth?
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) around 2.3% of women opt to give birth at home.
The NHS says that though giving birth is generally safe wherever you choose to deliver, for women having their first baby, home birth slightly increases the risk of a poor out come for the baby (from five in 1,000 for a hospital birth to nine in 1,000 – almost 1% – for a home birth).
For women having their second or subsequent baby, a planned home birth is as safe as having your baby in hospital or a midwife-led unit.
James Van Der Beek and his wife aren’t the only ones using social media to break down stigmas surrounding the birth process.
Earlier this year we reported on the #stopcensoringbirth movement, a collection of mothers, midwives and birth photographers dedicated to challenging the rules surrounding the sharing of birth images.
Following the censorship of birth photographs by social media sites, the movement aims to remove the stigma surrounding birth by sharing honest and real pictures depicting the process.
“By documenting births and sharing (with permission of the parents of course) birth stories and photographs birth photographers around the world have contributed to creating great shifts in regard of how women reflect back on birthing their babies,” explains birth photographer Marijke Thoen.
“And that is what this is all about: showing women how amazingly powerful they (and their bodies) are during the process of labour and birthing and inspiring mothers-to-be to feel empowered instead of scared to deliver their babies.”
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