New to Bounty?
A new photo series is fighting against the pressure that society puts on women to “bounce back” after childbirth, aiming at empowering them to love their postpartum bodies.
This photo series is titled 'After The Baby Is Born' and is a part of The Honest Body Project, which aims to end body-shaming and promote confidence and self-appreciation.
Natalie McCain, creator of the project, photographed the same seven women whose pregnancy photos were featured in 'The Beauty In A Mother' series to show the variations of women’s bodies after giving birth.
New mothers are “baring their hearts and souls” in this series of black and white images taken only three to six weeks after childbirth, where they also share their thoughts and experiences on these early postpartum weeks.
McCain understands that the postpartum period is a time where body insecurities come to the surface. Through this series, she hopes that new mothers will understand that they are not alone in this struggle.
"I hope that new mothers will see these portraits and recognize that the postpartum period is beautiful and to not be harsh on themselves after they give birth," McCain said. "Ignore the messages that society gives you, telling you that your imperfections need to be fixed."
“The other morning I got out of the shower, stood in front of the mirror and really looked at my body. The purple, jagged stretch marks on my stomach struck me so hard that I startled myself… I called my husband in to show him. ‘I used to have amazing, tight abs… do you remember?’ I asked him. Without hesitation, he replied 'Yes, but we didn’t have two amazing sons back then.'”
“I think everyone thinks what if they stayed at home longer, walked further or opted for or didn’t get the epidural. But really we can’t change it and some of us didn’t really get to choose how our babies came in to world, but we can choose how we raise them.”
“After this birth, I decided to take care of my sanity proactively, since I knew I could get overwhelmed, touched out or even less kempt than what makes me feel good. I shower daily and change clothes if they get messy, and make sure I’m comfortable before I am “stuck” for hours. This self-care has definitely helped keep my head in a better place than last time.”
“I have the kind of body that other moms hate and openly tell me so. I haven’t had any issues with my postpartum body. I just worked a bikini event last week at 4 weeks postpartum. I won’t get hired for any modeling work if I’m out of shape- I mean that’s just the harsh reality of how it is.”
“It is so amazing to finally see this little human that has been a part of you for their whole life.”
“The emotional ups and downs can be overwhelming during the first few weeks. I was sorting through baby clothes a few days after my daughter was born and started bawling. It all goes so fast. The newborn stage, especially, is over in the blink of an eye… there’s something so beautiful and powerful about the time when you are everything to a tiny, helpless human.”
“Even though I have no idea what sleep is anymore, I constantly smell like baby puke, I look a hot mess, my house isn’t as clean as it used to be and my life consists of dirty diapers and getting peed on, I absolutely love the mommy life and couldn’t imagine my life without him.”
“One of my poor babies crying gets to me. I love being able to tend to her needs most of the time.. that’s really fulfilling! What is really challenging and overwhelming, though, is when she’s sad and I don’t know how to help and nothing seems to meet her needs. I just have to remind myself that it’s okay to be sad, especially if I’m right there to comfort her through it.”
“The hardest thing I have to cope with postpartum is finding a balance between the new baby and my two year old.”
“The newborn hasn’t been the overwhelming part – it’s everything else! Newborns just need to be snuggled and nursed all the time, which is honestly a joy, but it makes doing anything else – taking care of her older siblings, keeping the house from descending into chaos, spending time with my husband – a challenge.”
“Being a plus size pregnant woman was very challenging in every aspect. From the body shaming to trying to find clothes that fit. Self confidence was an every day challenge. After having my child I thought that my body would go back to the way it was. I’m here to say it did not. It’s hard to feel beautiful with all of the tiger stripes across my body and all the extra weight I’ve gained.”
“The hardest thing I’ve had to cope with during postpartum is maintaining patience. Overall I will say I’ve done an excellent job, but it has taken a lot of awareness and intention. Patience with myself as I go through the physical recovery and limitations from my elective repeat C-section. Patience with myself as I learn to parent two children."
“I honestly feel more comfortable with the way my body looks when I’m pregnant than when I’m not. I am amazed at the way my body is recovering from my second C-section, I am a little sad that I have stretch marks on my stomach this time, although with time I hope to embrace these. I feel like a goddess each time I breastfeed my baby. I am in awe at what the female body is capable of.”
“It’s hard being touched all the time. My toddler, understandably, has been needier than usual since her sister was born. I’m nursing one or both of them almost constantly, and as much as I really do love it, I feel really touched out sometimes."
“The newborn stage comes with this most amazing, innate need for mommy. Yes it can be very overwhelming, but it’s simplicity is a beautiful thing.”