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10th Jan 2017

You Have Seen Lots Of Post-Birth Photos – But You Have Never Seen One Like This Before

Trine Jensen-Burke

Giving birth to a baby is no small feat and, more than likely, the single most amazing thing you will ever do with your body.

It never ceases to wow me just how powerful and strong and sheer magical women’s bodies really are – and, hand on heart, I did develop a whole new level of respect and love for my own body once I had experienced first-hand what amazing things it is really capable of.

But let’s not gloss over that birth is also hard work. It is physically testing, of course, but also requires levels of mental and emotional strength you might not have even known you had in you. It bares your soul, if you will.

Which is probably why mums all over the world (me included!) found themselves feeling emotional over this raw and stunning image that Melbourne photographer Lacey Barratt just shared on social media.

The image, taken twenty hours after Barratt had given birth to her fourth baby, is beautiful, haunting – and important.

The photographer posted a photo of herself and her newborn on Facebook, standing in front of her birth affirmation bunting, post-partum body laid nearly bare. She thought, in her own words, she was doing pretty well. The lighting was perfect, the tiny baby so brand new in his mama’s arms. But what makes this image so real is the look on Lacey’s face – which she, according to herself – never even noticed until a friend pointed it out.

“That’s powerful and confronting. Are you OK?” her friend asked.

“I was fine until she asked me if I was fine. I took another look at it. I saw my soul … I cried. I didn’t want to look at it anymore,” Lacey says.

That feeling, of physical and emotional exhaustion is overwhelming, and it’s something all post-partum mamas have felt, I think.

Lacey explains, “I saw a woman who felt like after four biological births in five years and five children in total, that this was her job. Like she was good for nothing else other than birthing babies.”

The thing about this photo, the reason is captured so many of us, I think, is that while the feelings and the tiredness and the sense of being overwhelmed are something we all feel to a varying degree, images like these are still pretty rare.

And because the birth of a baby is supposed to be a happy time, guilt also plays its part, making mums feel there is something wrong if they don’t feel immediately connected with or happy about their baby.

Which is why Lacey’s post is supportive – and important.

“Feeling disconnected after a birth whether it be positive, supported and empowering OR traumatic, disempowered and poorly supported is NORMAL. Our emotions are everywhere. The stories I have received from sharing these images are a strong reminder that I am not alone, and I am very normal. So for my [post-partum] mamas out there, don’t be discouraged. You are not alone and you are f**cking fabulous.”

Can YOU relate, mamas? Did YOU feel a little all over the place right after giving birth? Do we need to have more of a conversation around the post-partum mother do you think? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @Herfamilydotie