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The Honest Body Project: new mums bare all in striking portraits

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Florida based photographer Natalie McCain has shared a series of portraits called After the Baby is Born, featuring women three to six weeks after giving birth.

The photos are part of The Honest Body Project aimed at encouraging women to love their bodies and boost self-confidence.

"Society puts so much pressure on women to 'bounce back' after giving birth and I want to help break that cycle," says McCain on her website. "These women are baring their hearts and souls to help show the variations of bodies after giving birth."

mom and baby

In an effort to pass on healthy body image onto the next generation, each woman photographed in the series anonymously shares her story and feelings about her body following pregnancy to embrace how they have changes since giving birth. 

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One woman says, "I called my husband in to show him. 'Look at these stretch marks,' I said. 'Cool!' he said.

"And he genuinely meant it as he ran his finger across them. 'I used to have amazing, tight abs... do you remember?' I asked him, realizing that they would never look like I remembered.

"Without hesitation, he replied 'Yes, but we didn’t have two amazing sons back then.'"

mom and baby 2

Another woman who appeared in the series explains how she doesn’t feel the need to ‘bounce back’ anymore.

"There’s something really beautiful about the way my newborn’s tiny body molds into my soft, squishy postpartum belly," she says. "While rock hard abs might be something I aspire to someday in the future, I’m really glad that isn’t my reality right now. The body I have is perfect for snuggling my baby."

mom and baby 3

The project includes all body types, with one woman saying that being a "plus-sized pregnant woman was very challenging in every aspect".

"I don’t want to be skinny. I just want to be healthy for me, my family, and my son, but it is hard," she says.

"It’s hard to feel beautiful with all of the tiger stripes across my body and all the extra weight I’ve gained."

mom and baby 5

And one woman, who is a professional model, admits that she has "the kind of body that other mums hate" because she hasn't had any issues getting her figure back. But she adds that her career depends on her getting back in shape.

"I just worked a bikini event last week at four weeks postpartum," she says. "I’m still 10-15 lbs over my usual weight, so I definitely felt a little more self-conscious than usual. But to cope with that I’ve been hitting the gym the last two weeks to get myself back faster than with just breastfeeding.

"Most people can’t believe how fast I’m back in shape again with baby number two, but it’s what I do for a living, so I’m pretty sure my body just knows I can’t afford not to be! 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."

Check out the video below to see more about the project

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