PARENTS

Mum Photographs Women's Bodies Pre- And Post-Birth To Paint An 'Honest Picture Of Motherhood'

05/08/2015 16:43 BST | Updated 07/10/2015 09:59 BST

Mother-of-two and photographer Natalie McCain wants to help mums of different shapes, sizes and backgrounds feel beautiful and empowered.

McCain's Honest Body Project captures powerful images of women pre- and post-birth with a personal story attached to each photo.

The photographer told HuffPost UK Parents: "I started the project because mothers everywhere are struggling with their body image and various hardships in their lives.

"The portraits show their joy, their beauty, their imperfections and their love for their children. Paired with their stories, it paints a beautiful, honest picture of motherhood."

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"I am almost always happy. I never really get down, I am always cheerful, the glass is always full. Everything is an adventure, and I love to laugh! Just about anything is funny if you look for it."

The idea for the project came from McCain's own self-doubt over her body and weight.

McCain told HuffPost UK Parents: "A few years ago I decided to stop obsessing over the scale and to appreciate my body for what it has done, which is pretty amazing since it has given me two wonderful children.

"I want to help other mums come to this realisation and change their inner voice to self love. When you change your inner voice, your entire world changes."

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"Im 35 weeks pregnant, and just last week I had maternity pictures taken to celebrate this horrible, but beautiful pregnancy. It’s so hard being plus size, pregnant, sick, and getting negative comments about the way I look. If I’m happy and accepting of my body, why can’t everyone else just be happy for me?!"

McCain photographed one of her close friends and shared the photo on a local mother's group on Facebook.

The photo received a positive response and women began volunteering to have their portrait taken too. When sharing their stories to go with the photos, McCain encouraged the women all to "speak from the heart".

She added: "It has grown from there and I have hundreds of women who have contacted me to be photographed.

"I want mothers to learn to instil healthy body images in the next generation of women that we are raising."

SEE ALSO:

'Mum Tums Don't Just Bounce Back' -Mother Posts Encouraging Photos Of Post-Partum Body

8 Post Pregnancy Body Changes No One Warns You About

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"I ended up having pre-eclampsia and delivering my twins at 34 weeks. It was one of the hardest days of my life. I was going to have a c-section which I was totally fine with. I knew from day one I was probably going that route and never felt bad about it or cared what people said."

Since the project was started four months ago, McCain says the reaction has been amazing.

"I have heard from women around the world how it has touched their lives and helped them," she says.

"It is so heartwarming to hear that the project is helping others. I hope to continue to grow the following and help more women."

mums4

"After my son was born, I experienced secondary infertility for several years, then the loss of a long awaited and very much wanted pregnancy. Those experiences have coloured the way I’ve felt about subsequent pregnancies. I fell in love with my son, unreservedly and completely, the moment I saw the second line on the pregnancy test."

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"I feel guilty. I feel guilty that we eat fast food occasionally, that we have cereal for dinner, that the pile of laundry is so big you can’t open the laundry room door, that my son slept in my room until he was three and we just this past weekend got his own clothes into his own closet into his own room. I feel guilty that I don’t do all the exercises the physical and speech therapist tell me to do with my second son or that we haven’t started teaching him sign language and he’s eight months old!"

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"Early in this pregnancy, I experienced bleeding and cramping. After an early ultrasound didn’t show a heartbeat and blood tests showed that my HCG levels were rising, but not very fast, I was sure we would lose the pregnancy. I was devastated and spent several days crying with my husband and waiting for what seemed like the inevitable outcome. Thankfully, we saw a tiny, beating heart during a follow up ultrasound a week later."

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"We had so many worries during my second pregnancy once our son was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome. Would he be born vaginally, would he nurse, would he be in the NICU, would he have another medical ailment we didn’t catch on the ultrasounds. Eli came into the world strong, nursing, and never visited the NICU. He melted our hearts and continues to melt the hearts of everyone around him."

View all images from The Honest Body Project here.

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