When one mother shared some extraordinary photos of her Pʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴛ and postpartum tummy, she proved that we don’t have to be scared or ashamed of our stretch marks. Instead, maybe it’s time we ditch the unrealistic expectations, scrap the photoshop, and share the story of our beautiful battle wounds.
Kristin Niemi was 40 weeks Pʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴛ with her second child when she posted a picture of her belly on Instagram. But this wasn’t any old stylised pregnancy shot, this incredible photo showed a bright web of stretch marks spreading across her belly. It’s soᴍᴇᴛʜing that many women would instinctively hide, but Kristin chose to embrace it, writing in the post: “”This is #40weeksPʀᴇɢɴᴀɴᴛ#unfiltered. It’s impatience. It’s the overwhelming desire to finally meet him after 10 long months … It’s an emotional rollercoaster. And yet, it’s still pretty darn beautiful.”
Mothers talk a lot about keeping it real, but when it comes to accepting the realities of pregnancy and the physical marks it leaves on our bodies – we often go quiet. And social media doesn’t always help. As Kristin explained that she kept seeing overly filtered and “dolled up” pregnancy photos on Instagram. She admits she posted some too. But then she decided to try a different approach.
“I wanted to show what REAL women go through in pregnancy,” said Kristin. “It’s not photoshopped, it’s not all smiles, and it’s not all a smooth belly. For many moms-to-be out there, it means pain, it means stretch marks, and it means some tough days that don’t include a smile … I wanted to keep (a) positive spin, but also show the reality of it all.”
It’s clear the picture struck a chord with other women. No one was judging, in fact many instantly saw the beauty in the marks, which remarkably resemble a tree of life. The Hᴜɢᴇly positive response to Kristin’s post reveals just how much we need an unfiltered conversation about stretch marks – that so many of us get them during pregnancy, that they’re not soᴍᴇᴛʜing to cover up, that they’re lifelong reminders of nine extraordinary months.
As Kristin puts it: “It’s so easy, with all the symptoms and hormones of pregnancy, to start to feel down on yourself. But to know there are other mamas out there who are going through … the same thing, makes you realise how much you should really embrace your body and the amazing transformation it takes to grow life.”
If you’re doing the maths on Kristin’s due date – yep, she had a beautiful baby Bᴏʏ. And now that she’s on the other side, she’s staying true about the realities of a post-partum body. Just one week after giving birth, she posted this before and after pic, showing the amazing changes to her belly. As most mothers with stretch marks can testify, the marks fade, but most of us still Cᴀʀʀʏ a few battle wounds for life. This can take time to accept, but it sure does help when mothers like Kristin share their journey.