Pregnancy brings a whole host of changes to your body—and while those changes are beautiful, they can also sometimes be hard to accept. Learning to love your pre- and postpartum body isn’t always easy, but one mama is sharing pictures of her maternity photoshoot in an effort to encourage moms everywhere.
Mom Christina Abiola shared the images from her shoot on her Instagram. The photos show Abiola, who kept putting off the shoot, at 38 weeks pregnant, posing with her husband.
“Insecurity is a dangerous thing. I believe It restrains us from for filling our full potential. When it came down to shooting my maternity photos I was truly afraid. So afraid I delayed it to 38 weeks pregnant!” she wrote in the caption of the post. “I’ve been struggling with embracing my marks because I felt like I was the only one who’s experienced such an extreme amount. My entire belly was covered and I felt like I was doing something wrong…[Now] I like to call my marks beauty marks! Because my marks represent the beautiful life I brought to the world! I honestly would do it all over again for her.”
Initially, Abiola wanted her stretch marks edited out of the pictures. But when she finally did the shoot, her photographer told her editing the stretch marks out of the photos would be impossible. So what did Abiola do? She let go of her self-consciousness and shared the photos shortly after giving birth to her daughter on October 24.
“I wanted to do a maternity shoot, but I was feeling insecure because I was growing all these stretch marks and I’ve never really had stretch marks before,” Abiola told TODAY Parents. “I just kept delaying.”
The photos represent a message to moms everywhere, some of whom may be struggling to love their own postpartum bodies—and they’ve now gone viral, with women leaving hundreds comments of love and support. “Honey your stretch marks are beautiful, I saw these pictures and the first thing I thought was these are gorgeous, never be ashamed,” one person wrote, while another said, “I got them too. All over my belly. And while I don’t feel ugly or unworthy, I do feel different and I’m not totally in love with my postpartum belly. Thank you for sharing this. It’s helping me retrain my mind.”
Learning to love your pre- and postpartum body isn’t always easy, but we’ve got some tips that can help.