Inside the woman's body, her baby's forehead is pushing toward her bottom cheeks (in an anterior birth). As her body opens up to move her baby through, her anus becomes "puckered out" and her rectum flares open. A red line appears from her anus up, which becomes more red as the baby's head comes down.
I remember feeling very stretched the first time I gave birth, but no concept of just how stretched. When I attended a woman at birth for the first time I witnessed this incredible opening and could scarcely believe my eyes, knowing that my own body had flared the very same way, months prior. Women's bodies really are the most incredible organisms.
After the birth of my second child I was pleased to discover that my partner had captured some great photographs of my rectal flaring:
After class I searched the web for some more information about why this is referred to as "the rhombus of michaelis" and was unsurprised to learn that the term comes from the name of an Obstetrician: Gustav Adolf Michaelis, of 19th Century Germany.
Women's rectal walls had been flaring long before Gustav and we continue to long after. My rhombus has nothing to do with Michaelis (just as my uterine tubes have nothing to do with Gabriele Falloppio!). It saddens me that this medico-misogynist colonisation of women's bodies goes unquestioned. Hence the title of this post, I'm reclaiming women's rectal walls from Michaelis!