Every “real” postpartum photo allows other women struggling to know they aren’t alone
Most women struggle with body image at some point in our lives — never more so than with our postpartum bodies. But one Australian mom of three decided to share her post-pregnancy body with the world in hopes of inspiring acceptance and sending a message that we are more than just a number on the scale.
Elise Raquel, who shares her life with her almost 30,000 Instagram followers at Raising Young Loves, decided to share a more intimate moment this summer after her youngest, Willa was born. The picture was taken hours after she gave birth and Elise was “in pain and overcome by a flood of emotions.”
Let's talk postpartum bodies! I asked @belleverdiglionephotography to take this photo, just hours after giving birth to Willa, in my rawest and most vulnerable state. I was in pain and I was overcome by a flood of emotions. Elated to have welcomed our beautiful girl and so empowered and proud of what my body and I had just done! It's a strange feeling to look down and still see a bump, even though you're holding your baby in your arms, even after doing it three times. It's not easy to go home with a baby and still have to wear maternity clothes. With my first I was adamant I would just "bounce back". Everyone would say "you're young, you'll loose the baby weight in no time!" But you know what, I didn't, I never have in fact. With each baby I've gained a few more kilos and a few more stretch marks. I used to feel the need to cover up in this newborn stage, I didn't want to see my body in this state, so why would anyone else? It's taken me three babies, but I've finally realised this postpartum body isn't something to hide! I am beyond proud for what this body has given and sacralised. I am thankful that my body is able to carry and birth babies naturally. I am NOT ashamed of my (many) new stripes and my postpartum body. And neither should you! Let's celebrate postpartum bodies, in all their glory. The female body is incredible and I am so proud of what mine has done!
Though she was elated to give birth to their third child, Elise writes, “It’s a strange feeling to look down and still see a bump, even though you’re holding your baby in your arms. It’s not easy to go home with a baby and still have to wear maternity clothes.”
She shares that when she had her first child, as with most new moms, she was certain she would just “bounce back.” But Elise admitted, “I didn’t, I never have in fact. With each baby I’ve gained a few more kilos and a few more stretch marks.”
It’s not an uncommon story. Women are constantly bombarded with messages about how we “should” look — and no one is harder on us than ourselves. Then we have kids and a new set of standards emerge telling us we should be back in pre-baby condition weeks after giving birth. But we need to remember our bodies just carried a child; they are not supposed to look exactly like they did before. The more we see pictures of real women and real unedited pictures, the more we can begin to change the narrative.
“I used to feel the need to cover up in this newborn stage, I didn’t want to see my body in this state, so why would anyone else?” Elise continues. “It’s taken me three babies, but I’ve finally realised this postpartum body isn’t something to hide! I am beyond proud for what this body has given (…) I am NOT ashamed of my (many) new stripes and my postpartum body.”
Elise urges other women to give themselves a break and embrace our bodies, flaws and all. “Let’s celebrate postpartum bodies, in all their glory,” she says. “The female body is incredible and I am so proud of what mine has done!”