Intimate Portraits Of New Mothers Capture The Beauty Of Postpartum Bodies

When Alberta based photographer Meagan Elemans became a mother, she had no idea the toll that postpartum would take on her both her body and her emotions. But rather than bury these feelings and stay silent, she chose to use her skills behind the camera to capture this beautiful and difficult time in a new mother’s journey.

More: Instagram h/t: petapixel

Thus was born a photo project called Postpartum Normalized: portraits of new mothers that seek to empower their subjects and frame the postpartum body as a beautiful and natural evolution of womanhood.

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This project was so fulfilling. I met so many amazing women who are on the path to self love, despite how hard it is. Postpartum is no joke. If you have someone in your life that is moving through their fourth trimester, help out. It’s such an isolating, overwhelming and confusing time. It’s the best time to show new mammas the power of a village. Offer help with chores, prepare a meal. Hold a baby so mamma can shower. It helps, I promise. • • #postpartum #motherly #teammotherly #motherhoodunderstood #embraceyourmotherhood #mothershape #wtebabies #thebump #myformerbump #effyourbeautystandards #womenirl #momunity #motherhoodrising #motherhoodthroughinstagram #bodypositivity #bopowarrior #scarymommy #tribearchipelago #confidentmotherhood #motherhood #fourthtrimester #bebrave #stopcensoringmotherhood

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“Postpartum hit me really hard, and I felt really underprepared for the absolute chaos that included my fourth trimester,” Elemans tells PetaPixel. “I knew I had to do some kind of photo project where women can share and talk about the difficulties as they emerge into motherhood, and the beauty that is within their after-baby body. I wanted to showcase it as an evolution, and try and dispense of the myth that women need to ‘bounce back.’”

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I laugh about people who are “exhausted” and who “can’t keep up” with all the “pronouns” and “new gender identities”. Like people trying to be respected as individuals is so exhausting. Respecting identities and using correct pronouns takes absolutely no energy expenditure on our part – but continues to validate the existence of our fellow human mates, however they choose to identify. When you identify as a “toaster” it only shows your ignorance and makes you look like an ass. Oh and by the way, ignorance is not a defence. Your lack of knowledge doesn’t give you a pass – you’re welcome to not know it all, but take the time to educate and ask questions. More knowledge will only serve us in the end. • • #loveislove #lgbtq🌈 #loveyourfellowhuman #folkportraits #yqlphotographer #educate #besmarter #bebetter #lovethyneighbor #womenirl #workingmomkind #momunity #yql #queer #effyourbeautystandards #bopo #bodypositive #bodypositivity #lovemysize #portraitmood #pursuitofportraits #boudoir #boudoirphotographer

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Get ready for some spam from this session because look. At. This. I usually have one kind of standard laying down pose that I include in all my sessions but I decided to #pinterest some poses from figure studies and this one did not disappoint. 😍 Boudoir/empowerment photography can look however you want it to – and you don’t necessarily need a bed. It’s whatever you feel would make you feel most comfortable. To all my #yql babes – book your Christmas photos soon! They make for a great gift for not just your partner, but yourself. 🥰 • • #womanempowerment #womenirl #boudoirphotography #boudiebabe #loveyourself #powerofshe #effyourbeautystandards #yqlphotographer #studiophotography #beempowered #girlsquad #bopo #bodypositivity #bopowarrior #pursuitofportraits #domorephotographer #beauty #womensupportwomen #empowermentphotography #makeart #tribearchipelago

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Nothing really fits anymore. Since having my girl, my hips sit a bit wider, pants dig in a big more. While my belly remains more or less the same size before I had a baby, everything else just feels… fuller. I make a point of acknowledging and appreciating this new body in my full length mirror everyday. Some days are harder, some days are easier. But I do it. I acknowledge and thank what you went through to bring my angel earth side, and even though everything is … fuller, so is my heart. • • #teammotherly #motherhoodunplugged #motherhoodrising #motherhoodthroughinstagram #momunity #effyourbeautystandards #bodypositive #bodylove #bopo #postpartum #takebackpostpartum #mombod #confidentmotherhood #embraceyourmotherhood #wtebabies #workingmomkind #womenirl #womenempowerment #womensupportingwomen

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I recently got kicked out of one of my favourite Facebook groups because I made mention that I was sleep training. I have to remind myself how much of our online content is heavily curated – as most content is now monetized. Groups often exist to share in and express similar opinions, solidifying beliefs often with no room for a difference of opinion. For a new mom, I sometimes feel panicky that I’m not doing right by my daughter. Being told by a group of women that claim to be caring, that I’m basically neglecting my child, is disheartening. So let us remember on this dreary Monday; that support doesn’t cost you anything and it’s so valuable to people who are in a space of questioning. Love your fellow human, and move ON if you can’t engage in a conversation that’s helpful. Ps. This dress is available to all clients 😍 • • #onlinecontent #communityovercompetition #tribearchipelago #boudoirphotography #lethbridgephotographer #yql #studiophotographer #supporteachother #effyourbeautystandards #pursuitofportraits #portraitphotography #womanhood #womanempowerment #womanportrait

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In the last two days of my pregnancy, I got my stretch marks. I had religiously slathered all kinds of creams and salves on my belly all nine months, in the desperate hope that they wouldn’t appear. But they did. I don’t love them. I don’t think they’re beautiful. But they’re okay. I know they are there as a reminder of the hard work I went through to bring my babe earthside. They’re a confirmation of how remarkable and magnificent my body is – making it through a terrible pregnancy and then labor. They’re pathways of my heart, on the outside of my body. A gentle reminder that I’ll move mountains for my babe. That every stretch mark is worth it, for now I have this amazing being with me, always. Just like my stretch marks. And I think thats motherhood. It’s beautiful but messy. It’s so hard but so rewarding. It’s my new reality and I wouldn’t have it any other way. • • #embraceyourmotherhood #teammotherly #motherly #documentyourdays #postpartummoms #mothershape #selfportraitproject #tribearchipelago #confidentmotherhood #wtebabies #postpartum #motherhoodrising #clickinmoms #workingmomkind #momunity #bodypositive #effyourbeautystandards #bopo #womenirl

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As a photographer I often catch myself feeling like I have to apologize for this craft. Even after engaging in it for over a year now, I still feel unworthy and like I’m confiscating this hobby from others who are more deserving of it. Which is such a weird inner dialogue. It’s easy to get caught up in the Instagram world when it comes to photography. Comparison runs rampant and I’m often left feeling inadequate and like I’ll never amount to fellow togs out there. With so many photographers nowadays it’s easy to feel like your work doesn’t matter and lacks a unique quality. But hey. We’re all just grinding. Creating. Finding the best version of our work and by extension ourselves. Sometimes I wish when people came across my work the first thing they’d see is my fervent love for this thing instead of how many followers I have. So fuck it. Keep going. Be true to yourself and your vision. Pursue satisfaction, create, thrive. And try not to tell yourself you’re not worthy of it. Because if you’re not, who is? . . #womenirl #powerofshe #takebackpostpartum #effyourbeautystandards #mothershape #postpartum #motherhoodunplugged #motherhood #bopo #bodypos #bodypositive #tribearchipelago #canon #studiophotography #yqlphotographer #lethbridgeboudoir #empower

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“This was a tougher question than it should have been. Immediately I thought of our challenges with breast feeding, then my mind went to how I initially felt my body failed me during labour which ended in a caesarean, but something else has been more challenging for me. For me the hardest part of motherhood is losing my one-on-ne time with my husband. Now, I would never have expected this to be my answer, as I truly valued my alone time before having our daughter, but it is so true. Not long after getting home from the hospital, my husband asked me if I could have anything what would that be. He meant some sort of food, but my answer was to have alone time with him. It's extremely difficult for us to have alone time, just the two of us. Since she's been born, we celebrated my husband's 33rd birthday, and our 9th anniversary, both of which were hard on me because it wasn't just the two of us. It is something I struggle with, something that frustrates me, and something I cry over.” . . #womenempowerment #womenirl #momunity #motherhoodunplugged #clickinmoms #postpartum #tribearchipelago #canoncanada #motherhoodthroughinstagram #effyourbeautystandards #mothershape #takebackpostpartum #mom #loveyourself #empoweringwomen #empowermentphotography #yqlphotographer #lethbridgephotographer #studiophotography #houseofhammm

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Part 1/3; . “After my son was born I had two huge struggles post partum. They weren’t the typical the baby doesn’t sleep or is colic or I hate my post baby body. The first was not having freedom in my personal life and marriage. The second was motherhood for me was not what almost everyone described. An automatic love and maternal instinct. I hated being pregnant and when my son was born I didn’t feel that crazy connection everyone described. I remember truly falling I love with my son when he was 3 months old. When this finally happened I was more open about talking about it and realized it is normal for some women! We found our groove and we quickly adjusted to our new normal and my new normal. Fast forward to baby number two…” . . #womenirl #takebackpostpartum #postpartum #mothershape #bodypositive #tribearchipelago #motherhoodunplugged #motherhoodrising #motherhoodthroughinstagram #realwomen #woman #bossmoms #effyourbeautystandards #thebodypositive #canon

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Part 3/3; . “The anxiety. For 9 months you carry your baby everywhere you go. Then all of a sudden, they're earth side, and you have all these decisions you need to make. And for every decision, is another person in your ear giving advice. All kind of advice, all kinds of people, all kinds of opinions, and the expectations. Those are the worst, especially the ones you set for yourself. You see these moms who look like they have it all together, the perfect life, and you've gone four days without washing your hair. The comparisons you make, they make the anxiety worse too. Is your baby as happy as those babies? Am I a bad mom because my milk supply dried up, and shes now on formula? All these expectations that we as moms set for ourselves, those expectations replace reality, and then the anxiety just builds. That's the worst. But in the midst of that anxiety cloud, you see those tiny little smiles, the ones that light up your baby's face, that go from ear to ear… those help with the anxiety. Now I just need to learn to handle the expectations.” . . #rawmotherhood #postpartum #effyourbeautystandards #takebackpostpartum #tribearchipelago #loveyourself #yqlphotographer #motherhoodunplugged #intimacyafterbirth #bodypositive #bopo #bopowarrior #womenirl

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Part 3/3; . I had my first baby very young. It was a really hard struggle to accept my stretch marks as they were and my new body. I struggled hard because I had no one in my circle who had gone through the same. It wasn’t until my second was born that I truly came to terms that this was my body and I must love it in order to love myself the way I deserved to. It’s hard when you see moms who have had babies that have no stretch marks and bounce back but I had to realize that my journey is different then any other mom. Every stage of motherhood is hard. I would never be able to be as strong as I am today if it wasn’t for my husband who watched 3 human beings come blazing out of my vagina but still be highly attracted to me and wanted to see me grow as a woman! . . #postpartum #lethbridge #bodypositive #sexpositive #yqlphotographer #beunraveled #mothershape #motherhood #lethbridgephotographer #mephoto

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Part 2/3; . Children aged 12.5, 10.5, 9 and 5.5.

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Part 3/3; . On having a #blendedfamily: “Having a large family is complicated in an of itself. When you add the factor of being “blended” it just kills the simplicity, completely. There are so many hands in the pot with the majority of our kids, that it makes the simplest of things, difficult. Especially when co-parents disagree. As a stepmom, there are many times I have to go along with things I don’t believe in, or that I don’t feel comfortable with, purely out of respect for another adult or for the sake of the kids. I have the same love, devotion and responsibilities for all my kids, but with limited parental privilege. There’s an invisible line I can’t cross with three of them, for the simple fact that I’m not their birth mother. But it’s still vital that I treat them all as equally as I can… even when I can’t. I invest in them all so whole heartedly, but there’s inevitably moments when I’m reminded that our family may never feel completely whole. It’s a weird position to be in… it’s a no (wo)man’s land of sorts.”

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Part 2/3;

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Part 3/3; . Child aged 3 months. 🦋

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Part 2/2 . Everyone talks about how hard pregnancy is, the morning sickness and the acne. But no one prepares you for what comes after. The first three months after having your baby are simultaneously amazing and incredibly difficult months. Your empty body – the one that doesn’t feel like your own, designed as a feeding and housing service – is readjusting to life without a human again. You waddle around with a mattress pad between your legs wondering if it’ll ever not hurt to sit for an extended period of time. Everything that was stretched has now become soft and you spend time wondering when or if you’ll ever feel like yourself. Everything leaks. Your eyes, nipples and vagina. I felt like mothers knew this, so why didn’t anyone warn me? . Postpartum bodies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Together let’s disavow the notion of getting your body “back”. This is your body now, and it’s perfect because it carried a piece of your heart. This series is designed to show you there is no ‘right’ postpartum body. There’s just yours. 🌺🌸🌻

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Part 1/2: . Children aged 4 and 9 months. 🌺

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