This Viral Photo Shows What An Actual Post-Baby Body Looks Like

Last July, Australian mother Elise Grossman gave birth to her third child, a little girl named Willa. And while the baby is adorable (and came out with a full head of hair!) the photograph is going viral for the raw and candid nature of its subject matter. 

Back in July, Elise posted a photo of her postpartum body to he Instagram, hoping to inspire a conversation about what a body that’s just given birth actually looks like.  

Let's talk postpartum bodies! I asked @belleverdiglionephotography to take this photo, just hours after giving birth to Willa, in my rawest and most vulnerable state. I was in pain and I was overcome by a flood of emotions. Elated to have welcomed our beautiful girl and so empowered and proud of what my body and I had just done! It's a strange feeling to look down and still see a bump, even though you're holding your baby in your arms, even after doing it three times. It's not easy to go home with a baby and still have to wear maternity clothes. With my first I was adamant I would just "bounce back". Everyone would say "you're young, you'll loose the baby weight in no time!" But you know what, I didn't, I never have in fact. With each baby I've gained a few more kilos and a few more stretch marks. I used to feel the need to cover up in this newborn stage, I didn't want to see my body in this state, so why would anyone else? It's taken me three babies, but I've finally realised this postpartum body isn't something to hide! I am beyond proud for what this body has given and sacralised. I am thankful that my body is able to carry and birth babies naturally. I am NOT ashamed of my (many) new stripes and my postpartum body. And neither should you! Let's celebrate postpartum bodies, in all their glory. The female body is incredible and I am so proud of what mine has done!

A post shared by Formerly eliseraquel (@raisingyoungloves) on

“It’s a strange feeling to look down and still see a bump, even though you’re holding your baby in your arms, even after doing it three times.”

The caption reads:

Let’s talk postpartum bodies! I asked @belleverdiglionephotography to take this photo, just hours after giving birth to Willa, in my rawest and most vulnerable state. I was in pain and I was overcome by a flood of emotions. Elated to have welcomed our beautiful girl and so empowered and proud of what my body and I had just done! It’s a strange feeling to look down and still see a bump, even though you’re holding your baby in your arms, even after doing it three times. It’s not easy to go home with a baby and still have to wear maternity clothes. With my first I was adamant I would just “bounce back”. Everyone would say “you’re young, you’ll loose the baby weight in no time!” But you know what, I didn’t, I never have in fact. With each baby I’ve gained a few more kilos and a few more stretch marks. I used to feel the need to cover up in this newborn stage, I didn’t want to see my body in this state, so why would anyone else? It’s taken me three babies, but I’ve finally realised this postpartum body isn’t something to hide! I am beyond proud for what this body has given and sacralised. I am thankful that my body is able to carry and birth babies naturally. I am NOT ashamed of my (many) new stripes and my postpartum body. And neither should you! Let’s celebrate postpartum bodies, in all their glory. The female body is incredible and I am so proud of what mine has done!

Elise mentions how emotional it was dealing with a newborn while simultaneously struggling with self-image, even after having done it three times. She also talks about how her body didn’t just “bounce back”, how that entire concept is flawed and largely mythical and how rather than focusing on looking good after having a baby or hiding its changes, it’s important to show yourself some self-love and celebrate what your body just accomplished.

Her forthright sentiment resonated with many mothers and future mothers on the ‘gram:

Since her image went viral a few months after she posted it, she followed up with a second one, seeking to address those wondering how and why she decided to post something so intimate and personal. She explains how her doctor had neglected to educate her whatsoever about her life and body postpartum, and how it came as such a shock that she wanted to help prepare other expecting moms:

My post labour photo has been shared a few times on the internet this past week. And although I received a huge amount of support and had so many mothers share their own postpartum stories, I also saw many people question my decision to share such a personal photo publicly on the internet. So I thought I'd explain why. When I was pregnant with Peyton I really had no idea what post birth was really like, and you don't fully understand until you actually have a baby! I was one of the first of my friends to get pregnant, so I didn't have that support group to ask all those TMI questions about pregnancy and birth. My doctor was more concerned about setting a medically unnecessary induction date rather than explaining to me what post birth would be like! No one told me the reality of the fourth trimester. I had no idea you could still look so pregnant even after giving birth. Everyone told me I was young, I would bounce straight back, and I believed them. Just like many women do, I too used to look up to the media, celebrities who would show off their supermodel like post baby bodies just weeks after giving birth! I thought thats how it would be for me too. So when I went home from hospital four days after giving birth, still looking six months pregnant, I thought I must have done something wrong. How come I didn't look like they did post baby? How come I didn't bounce back straight away like everyone said I would? How come it took me a year to fit back into my pre baby jeans? Well, because for many women, and for me, this post baby picture that was painted in my head just wasn't realistic! There's so much pressure from society and from ourselves to look a certain way post baby, but for many that's not the case, and that's ok! I posted that photo because I wish someone had posted a photo just like mine when I was pregnant. I wish that someone had told me what realistically might happen to my body and to my mind. The fourth trimester is such a taboo topic. I want other mums also walking in my shoes to know that they're not alone. That whatever their postpartum journey may be, it's ok, it's normal and it should always be priaised! I did it for me, for you and for her!

A post shared by Formerly eliseraquel (@raisingyoungloves) on

“No one told me the reality of the fourth trimester. I had no idea you could still look so pregnant even after giving birth…Just like many women do, I I too used to look up to the media, celebrities who would show off their supermodel like post baby bodies just weeks after givin birth! I thought thats how it would be for me too. So when I went home from hospital four days after giving birth, still looking six months pregnant, I thought I must have done something wrong. How come I ididn’t look like they did post baby?”

So there you have it, naysayers. And to all new moms out there who are struggling with their self-image, I hope Elise’s posts have provided you some comfort. You are not alone! Your body just created an entirely new human being. Cut yourself some slack.

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