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