7 Pregnant Women Bare Their Bodies & Souls for 'The Honest Body Project' (PHOTOS)

Judy Dutton | Aug 5, 2015 Being a Mom

Pregnancy causes seismic changes not only to a woman's body, but to how she feels about it -- which is why photographer Natalie McCain has made it her mission to uncover the truth about this life-altering transformation for a photo series called The Honest Body Project.

"The Honest Body Project focuses on women of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and hopes to encourage women to love themselves and feel beautiful in their bodies," says McCain, a mother of two.

While this labor of love explores women at all stages of motherhood, the latest chapter in this series, "The Beauty in a Mother," focuses specifically on how women look -- and feel -- during pregnancy.

"I wanted to do a series for the project on pregnancy to help show how different everyone's bodies look during pregnancy and show that no matter what size you are, pregnancy is beautiful!" she says.

And apparently many agree, since the photos have taken off online and been met with accolades from many who see them -- and McCain has a theory about why they're so popular.

"When women see the portraits, they relate with the so-called 'imperfections' they see, which helps them to know that they aren't alone with their body image struggles," McCain explains. "The stories help mothers know that there are women around the world struggling with the same things they are, even though they are not always spoken about."

And while it's no doubt scary to bare your body and soul for everyone online to see, many of McCain's models found it to be a rewarding experience.

"One story from this series quickly went viral because it resonates with so many mothers," McCain recalls. "The mother was body-shamed during her pregnancy by her family and friends after sharing some of her maternity portraits." Yet after telling her story and sharing her photo on The Honest Body Project Facebook page, she was showered with support.

"So many women and men from around the world chimed in telling her she's beautiful and inspirational," says McCain. "It was wonderful!"

For an eye-opening glimpse of how women really look and feel during pregnancy, check out the photos and stories in this slideshow.

 

Image via The Honest Body Project

  • 'No One Tells You How Miserable Pregnancy Can Be'

    1

    "I feel like it's not out there enough in the never-been-pregnant community how uncomfortable the whole nine months can be for many women. Sure, there are some moms who love it and escape misery, but it often comes with a lot of limitations and discomforts, on top of the worry, anxiety, excitement, stress."

  • 'I Feel Beautiful Pregnant!'

    2

    "I feel beautiful when I am pregnant! Normally I'm self-conscious about my body, but during pregnancy, when I know that I am growing a beautiful new life, it's easier for me to embrace my curves and appreciate my body for what it is able to do."

    More from The Stir: 10 Moms Bare Their 'Perfectly Imperfect' Bodies to Show How Beautiful Postpartum Can Be (PHOTOS)

  • 'It's So Hard Being Plus-Size and Pregnant'

    3

    "Just last week, I had maternity pictures taken to celebrate this horrible but beautiful pregnancy. For the first time in about 35 weeks I felt beautiful, and was so excited to share this moment with my friends and family. Later that day, we got the sneak peek pictures back and I posted them on Facebook, thinking my friends and family would think I was beautiful and would love them -- however, that wasn't the case. All I received were negative comments about how huge I am, about how unhealthy I am, and about how they think my baby is going to be 10 to 12 pounds by the looks of how much I weigh. I literally went in the bathroom and cried for hours. It's so hard being plus-size, pregnant, sick, and getting negative comments about the way I look. If I'm happy and accepting of my body, why can't everyone else just be happy for me?"

  • Pregnancy Forced Me to Take Better Care of Myself'

    4

    "I never truly focused on the things I put into and on my body until I became pregnant. Lotions, deodorants, processed foods? Not a second thought of how they might affect my health, until I was pregnant. The moment I learned I had a child growing inside of me, I became very aware that the choices I was making for myself would have a lifelong impact on my child(ren) as well. No, I didn't go completely 'crunchy granola mommy' (love you ladies!), but I started reading ingredients, and learning what they meant and did. What a powerful force pregnancy has on a mother's mind. I have no doubt that some of these changes I've made could have possibly saved my life. Thank you, sweet babies of mine, for helping me take better care of myself simply by wanting the best for you."

  • 'I Hate Being Pregnant, and Would Pay Someone Else If I Could'

    5

    "My favorite part of pregnancy is after labor is done and they hand me my baby. After all my struggles, I am extremely grateful that I can get pregnant and have my healthy babies. That does not make me hate pregnancy any less. I find it miserable, and if I had the money, I would pay someone else to do it for me."

    More from The Stir: 12 Most Awkward Pregnancy Photos

  • 'I Left the Hospital Wearing Maternity Clothes'

    6

    "No one tells you how scary it is to poop after a vaginal delivery and that you leave the hospital still wearing maternity clothes!"

  • 'I Was Sad To Say Good-Bye to the Old Me'

    7

    "I've always been the type to value my freedom and independence. So when I found out I was pregnant, both times I cried. Not because I was filled with happiness, but because I was overwhelmed with these feelings of my life as I knew it being over. I knew that I could no longer live for just myself and that was one of my biggest fears, being forced to love someone more than I love myself and my freedom. It was a sad thing to embrace -- knowing I had to say good-bye to the old me when I wasn't anywhere near ready yet to become this new me. I spent most of my first pregnancy in anger, sadness, denial, resentment, and anticipation of how I was going to have to change to be this 'perfect mom' I always knew I had to be. I've always been scared to love with everything I have, but motherhood has made me face the ultimate love -- the kind of love I have been running from my entire life. Now, they are forever at the forefront of my mind controlling my every instinct, move, and thought process. All that matters to me is being the best mother I can be and giving my children everything I have."

    More from The Stir: Now This Is What a Post-Baby Body Looks Like (PHOTOS)

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