It can be very hard for new mothers to love their bodies after giving birth. Every change, every stretch mark, and the sight of loose skin can feel like uncharted territory that can leave postpartum moms feeling inadequate and unable to love the very vessel they used to bring life into this world. This stunning photo of mom Sabrina Ewell's loose skin will challenge mothers everywhere to embrace and love their postpartum bodies, no matter how difficult or how much of a struggle it is at times.
Photographer Aaron Turner took this striking photo that captures a quiet stillness as gazers look upon this Chicago mom-of-two and yoga instructor's postpartum body.
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Though 19 years have passed since Ewell gave birth to her first child -- and it's been eight years since she had her second -- the mom admits in her Instagram post that she's struggled to love all of who she is ... until now.
"So this is me ... in all my 19 year postpartum glory," Sabrina writes in her photo's caption. "I thought this was baggage for so many years .... Felt ashamed because I didn't look like societal norms ..."
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After contemplating surgery at one point to "fix" her image, Sabrina set out on a pilgrimage of self-love and acceptance the last two years that she says has helped her embrace her "authentic self."
"I no longer look to societal norms to define who the f*ck I am," the mom continues. "I am unapologetically me in my bikinis as I do handstands on the beach because I'm the sh*t. F*ck your photoshopped imagery because your bullsh*t no longer applies to me."
Yes ... to all of that!
Even Sabrina's photographer, Aaron Turner, had to chime in on her powerful photo, writing on the Expressions Untold Instagram page, "Don't hide your changes from the world that you and your sisters helped create. Be proud of your story. Be proud of your lines. Be proud of who you've chosen to be."
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I'd be lying if I said there aren't times when I look down at my stomach -- and my loose skin from carrying my two children -- and feel less than. It's an internal battle I have had with myself since carrying my children that yields victories some days, as well as hurdles, which is why I'm so thankful for moms like Sabrina who can stand in their truth, unashamed to encourage other mothers to do the same.
As Sabrina tells the Huffington Post, "I'm blown away at how far I've come in my perception of my stretch marks. After giving birth, I, like many new mothers, anxiously awaited the return of my pre-pregnancy body, but began to feel inadequate and unhappy about the parts of me that were now different."
Seeing this photo of this mom reiterates to me that I am not alone and that many mothers have loose skin, too. In fact, I have met many mommies with toned physiques, like Sabrina, with loose skin -- proving no one is alone, as mommies of all body types struggle with the way our bodies change post-baby.
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"Postpartum bodies are to be celebrated for being givers of life, not condemned for the inability to fit into what society says is beautiful," Ewell tells the Huffington Post. She also revealed, "I began to embrace and celebrate all the good about me, and stopped focusing on so-called 'flaws.' Once I let go of those self-deprecating thoughts, I literally became comfortable in my own skin, and was no longer ashamed to bare a little midriff."
At the end of the day, it's so important for mothers to love ourselves -- including the areas on our bodies we might consider less than perfect. Loose skin is a reminder of the life that grew inside of us -- life that we birthed into this world and would do anything for -- and that matters so much more than marks on our bodies.