In awe of motherhood

It’s Thursday, the 9th of may, when I’m writing this piece. I’m turning 37 today and with that age the question often arises when I’m finally gonna start thinking about kids. I always answer very honestly: Mother Nature had other plans with me.

I will probably never experience what it feels like to carry and raise a child, what doesn’t take away from the fact that I have the upmost respect for moms. How they deal with raging hormones, emotions, anxiety, uncertainties. With a body that changes, breaks, expands, that pushes itself to the absolute maximum. I can’t even imagine! Let alone deal with the immense pressure of returning to the pre pregnancy state as quick as possible by media, Instagram ‘trainers’ and society.

You know by now I have a passion for subjects like body image and body positivity and when I scroll through my Instagram feed, It blows my mind how people display so much rudeness towards each other and how mothers and their bodies, directly or indirectly, get body shamed.

Moms literally house a new person, a new creature. They nourish it from the inside out. We should kiss the ground they walk on!

I just don’t get it! Moms literally house a new person, a new creature. They nourish it from the inside out. We should kiss the ground they walk on for the reason that they are absolute saints!

Now to express my gratitude towards motherhood and celebrate the power of the female body, I produced a shoot with 5 moms and their child/children. I wanted to honor all their beauty and highlight  the relationship between mom and offspring.

Together with friend and photographer Sofie, makeup artist Amélie and the sweetest sponsor PrimaDonna, the shoot became an amazing success. The result touched my heart in so many ways….

But please look for yourself.

Amaury Van Kenhove

AmauryHow did your body change during and after your pregnancy?

Obviously my belly and boobs grew bigger, but next to that I also experienced a lot of subtle changes like faster growing hair and nails, which made me realize: the female body is under the spell of our hormones.

How do these changes make you feel?

Like everyone, I have good and bad days. One day I feel like a whale and the next day I’m like “Yes girl, you just fabricated a human being! That’s crazy!”.

The fact that a female body can literally turn into a baby factory, that we create a new set of organs, a beating heart, a solid set of lungs, and afterwards can keep the baby alive with breastmilk, is incredible! I feel very privileged to be able to play my part.

I try not to be too critical towards my body.

Did motherhood change your perspective on ‘beauty’ and ‘the human body?

Not really, I just gained much more respect for the female body. That force is incredible!

What do you do to honor your body?

I especially take care of my body (eating well, drinking enough water,…) and try not to be too critical towards it. It created, beared and fed 2 beautiful children, therefore it deserves utter mildness.

Lieve Vandenweghe

Lieve_V2

How did your body change during and after your pregnancy?

What I’ve learned is that women are chameleons. The changes we have to endure during and after pregnancy are intense. And it’s not only the belly that transforms, but also the boobs, hips, skin, hair, pretty much everything! I’m in peace with the fact that my body will never be the same as before, although I’ve lost all the baby weight. And that’s ok, because what I got for it in return is the greatest gift ever.

How do these changes make you feel?

To be honest, I kinda struggle with the fact that my boobs have reduced in cup size.

Also my tummy isn’t as firm as before, although I work out quite often. But I’m finding peace with these changes and I’m especially proud of what my body went through: carrying and bearing two children without epidural, and breastfeeding them afterwards. Crazy!

I no longer want to meet social standards. Every woman is beautiful in her own way and harbors a personal story.

Did motherhood change your perspective on ‘beauty’ and ‘the human body’?

Ow, Completely! The respect I’ve gained for women, including myself, is huge!

I no longer want to meet social standards. Every woman is beautiful in her own way and harbors a personal story. A story that gets translated by the body, which is so powerful!

What do you do to honor your body?

I try to really take care of myself: I eat well, exercise, hydrate enough and try to really listen to my body’s needs. Since I became a mom, I realize how precious our bodies are and that we have the responsibility to nurture it!  A healthy mind in a healthy body is my motto!

Marion Van Hecke

Marion

How did your body change during and after your pregnancy?

I could literally write a book, titled ‘Shit people won’t tell you about pregnancy and giving birth’. Hemorrhoids, hair loss, maternity bandage, leaking breasts, a hanging belly… I could make an entire alphabetical list!

After my first pregnancy, when I felt totally alienated from my body, I learned how important it is the be thoroughly informed and supported. This life lesson made my second pregnancy (of the twins) so much more easy-going.

How do these changes make you feel?

The kicking of the babies in the uterus, feeling your belly grow… It was such a surreal feeling! But not every change was pleasant to experience, let me tell you that! My first delivery left me kind of traumatized.

After the pregnancies, my body also lost a lot if its curves. I’m much slimmer now than before and I miss those softer edges, my firmer breasts… But they fed 3 children, which is so unique and beautiful in itself. I would never want to swap those experiences for a couple of perky boobs.

Did  motherhood change your perspective on ‘beauty’ and ‘the human body?

It taught me to be in awe of my own power, my primal instinct. To have faith in myself, also during the upbringing of the kids.

Physical beauty according to social standards is relative, superficial. I’m glad to see that times are changing and people no longer accept these narrow settings.

Motherhood taught me to be in awe of my own power, my primal instinct!

I learned to see beauty in actions, in words, in sparking eyes, in the open-heartedness of a smile. Every body houses a story that is powerful, affectionate and soothing.

What do you do to honor your body?

First of all, I try to show mildness towards my body. It’s crazy to notice how hard and self-critical  moms can get. How they start competing with each other, how they create a sense of uncertainty by spreading misinformation.

I just try to listen to my body. It’s much softer than before, which might mean I should start treating it with gentleness .

Ow yeah, and I want some extra tattoos! 🙂

 

Dorien

Dorien

I’m starting to accept who I am and what I have. And yet my reflection in the mirror can still push me out of balance…

How did your body change during and after your pregnancy?

Being pregnant was such a special experience, both mentally and physically. I was on my own in this adventure, and the changes on my body made me feel even more insecure. But despite all if this, I got overwhelmed by a sense of femininity and power. Which changed after the delivery, when my boobs were extremely (and painfully) swollen and the notion of my expanded body came over me.

How do these changes make you feel?

It took me a long time to accept them. People try to encourage you with the expression that you got something beautiful in return, which is true (I love my girl Jazz!), but I felt totally worn out!

Did  motherhood  change your perspective on ‘beauty’ and ‘the human body?

Now, after 7 years, I’m gaining perspective and I’m realizing that I’m not defined by just my looks. I’m starting to accept who I am and what I have. And yet my reflection in the mirror can still push me out of balance, which makes me run to the gym or start a diet yet one more time.

I feel like times are changing though! The current aesthetic ideal is one of not only slim girls, but also women with curves, personality, radiance.

What do you do to honor your body?

Not a lot, actually… Other than using body lotions and working out. This photoshoot has been a huge challenge for me and I’m so grateful that I got the chance to collaborate with you all! This is the first time I’m really showing my body. Before, I just hid myself behind baggy clothes.

Sofie Lambrecht

Sofie_2

How did your body change during and after your pregnancy?

I became pregnant five times shortly after one another. My weight went up and down during these pregnancies and i’m at my heaviest right now. Next to the weight gain, I also developed this saggy skin around my belly, which is new to me. Since the pregnancies, my belly and upper legs are decorated with stretch marks, but that doesn’t really bother me.

How do these changes make you feel?

I have little confidence with my belly, because I feel like this isn’t me. But I hope and know that I will be able to reduce it in size in the long run (without dieting). It just takes time.

Did  motherhood  change your perspective on ‘beauty’ and ‘the human body?

Since last year, my perspective has changed tremendously. Not particularly by my pregnancies, but more by the eating disorders I developed through years and years of excessive dieting. As a result, I started looking for what beauty really implies and got to know the ‘body positive movement’. It totally flipped my view on things and made me accept my changing body. If I look back on what my body created and endured, how my breasts fed my children, I can only be grateful.

If I look back on what my body created and endured, how my breasts fed my children, I can only be grateful.

What do you do to honor your body?

I’m still detoxing from my diet state of mind, which isn’t easy. The road to healing is paved with ups and downs, but I hope to develop a normal relationship with food and my body in the near future. In addition, I like to take care of my body by working out, going to  a spa and enjoying massages…

 Photography: Sofie De Pauw
Make up: Amélie Verougstraete
production assistant: De Maria
Bodywear: PrimaDonna

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