Photographer Natalie McCain from Florida found out first hand how having children can change your body in ways you don't expect.
The mum of two wrote on her website that even though:
Our bodies are strong, capable, wonderful and amazing things... we still aren’t happy when we look in the mirror.
But now Natalie's on a mission to prove that the stretch marks, loose skin, scars and sagging breasts that can call come with pregnancy and birth are to be embraced as beautiful - because they are normal and natural reminders that a child grew inside you.
I want to help the next generation of women we are raising to have healthy body images. Let's show them what women look like when they aren’t photoshopped and empower mothers everywhere to wear your postpartum body proudly. Show your children that what size your pants are doesn’t change how much you love yourself.
Natalie has started photographing mothers as part of 'The Honest Body Project', and the resulting photographs are an intimate, fresh look at what it means to see yourself and your body as part and parcel of motherhood.
I love my body, I love my baby bump, my tiger stripes, my curves, my imperfections, my loving man, my supporting family and friends, and I’m done letting others influence how I feel about myself. I am beautiful, strong, and intelligent.
My favourite part of pregnancy is after labour is done and they hand me my baby. After all my struggles, I am extremely grateful that I can get pregnant and have my healthy babies. That does not make me hate pregnancy any less. I find it miserable, and if I had the money, I would pay someone else to do it for me.
I cried and threw up when I saw the positive pregnancy test - my life literally flashed before my eyes and I cried like I lost a giant piece of myself forever. I couldn’t imagine even being happy about having a baby.
My life pivoted when I returned home with my husband, completely empty-armed. But it didn’t stop me from trying everything in my power to continue to nurture my life without him. I wanted to be able to be the best mother I could be, and embracing motherhood without my baby was my goal, and I never looked back.
My stretch marks don't bother me - they are a constant reminder of what my body did, and what it did was pretty sweet.
For more about 'The Honest Body Project' check out Natalie's website here and watch the video below: