Jenny Recotta combined her passion for nursing and pottery to make authentic clay designs about the body changes a woman undergoes during and after pregnancy.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 7, 2023. It has since been updated.
Jenny Recotta is a labor and delivery nurse turned potter who has combined her passions for nursing and pottery by creating popular clay figurines about the reality of giving birth. In a video clip, the 36-year-old uses her pottery wheel and a lump of clay to demonstrate how a woman's cervix dilates while giving birth. According to TODAY, she uses her fingers to map out the widening of a woman's cervix from one centimeter to ten centimeters. "Ever wanted a visual of what happens to your cervix during birth?" Recotta captioned the clip. "1-10 centimeters as shown in clay? How amazing are our bodies to be able to open and birth a baby?!"
Recotta never fathomed that her video would gain people's attention. "That sort of threw me for a loop," the video has amassed over 17 million views and 16K comments on TikTok. "I did not expect this at all." However, the responses she has received from the videos are very positive. "In some of the comments there have been a fair number of people who have been like 'Wow, this validates what I experienced and makes me proud of what my body did'," Recotta says. "I just love that people can look back and be so proud of what they did to bring their babies here." When she was a delivery nurse, a friend invited her to a wheel-throwing pottery class and that is how she got started with pottery. After practicing for a few months, she had an 'aha moment' saying "What if I put a placenta on a mug?"
"I started scouring the internet," she says. "I didn’t want to start reproducing an art form that was already out there." She started her creation by calling it "The Lumpy Mug". Her famous "placenta mug," which she made after working long hospital shifts was an instant success. "My coworkers told me I was insane, (but) it became really popular," she says. "I kind of did it as a part-time gig. I was selling them for next to nothing and just for fun." Recotta mentioned that she was "burnt out" while working as a nurse but found her hallelujah in learning pottery. She had not anticipated that her work would develop into something so intricate and detailed.
"I have been finding ways of taking that platform to talk about issues in healthcare and birth and throw my art in there," she says, adding that people have an emotional response to clay art. "I’ve found that people who buy or view my work...there’s a really strong emotional and healing aspect to the art itself," she says. "The way that it embodies the birth experience has been healing for a lot of people and it’s something I didn’t expect, but something I'm proud of and an important part of the piece itself." Moreover, Recotta was taken aback by people's lack of knowledge about the intricacies of childbirth.
There are a large number of people that seem unaware of what the cervix is and have no understanding of how birth works,” she tells Romper. But some comments appreciated the changes a woman undergoes post-pregnancy. “My favorite response has been the women who have come to celebrate what their bodies can and have done. They feel powerful and seem to feel a sense of redemption for what may have previously felt like a failure. I've loved being a part of that,” added Recotta. She also feels it is important to give “good, medically sound education surrounding birth and procedures or interventions along the way.”