Health

This Mother Just Perfectly Described What Postpartum Feels Like With a Selfie

It takes a lot of courage for a woman to expose her body, let alone her post-pregnancy body. But that’s exactly what one woman did.

Not even 24 hours after she gave birth to her fifth child, Erica Andrews uploaded a postpartum selfie on social media, pulling back the curtain on what life truly is like after child birth.

 

A photo posted by Erica (@laughing.moon) on

"This is what 24 hours postpartum looks like," Andrews wrote in an Instagram post. "Baby in sling. Skin to skin. Adult diapers. And a rosy glow."

She described the emotional changes felt in the moment:

"My body feels like it ran a marathon and my heart is wide open from yesterday's travels. Birth opens us like an earthquake opens the earth and I am still in the intimate, fragile throes of that opening. I feel raw. Emotional. Different. 23 hours ago I held life within and 24 hours ago I surged and transformed allowing life to flow through me, into my waiting hands. The emptiness in my womb brings a heavy feeling crashing into reality but then this new little life whimpers, searching for the breast with soft rooting, and I feel whole again.

Related: The Truth About Postpartum Depression

Many of those who praised Andrews commended her for being brave and embracing her natural postpartum body. So often women are under pressure to lose their baby weight and regain their pre-pregnancy body.

Aside from these pressures, society has a tendency to idealize pregnancy and motherhood and doesn't publicly discuss the range of feelings associated with pregnancy and childbirth. The failure to discuss the raw feelings and changes that happen during and after pregnancy can lead to stress and even postpartum depression, which 8 to 19 percent women experience in the U.S.

 

A photo posted by Erica (@laughing.moon) on

And although 80 percent mothers experience the "baby blues," — a term that describes the temporary feelings of worry, unhappiness, and fatigue that immediately follow the birth of a baby — not many are open to talking about it.

With the lack transparency surrounding women's emotions and bodies after childbirth, the new mother of five felt "called to share the image" with other mothers, Today reports.

"This is my last baby, and I was feeling very emotional knowing that was the last time I would look and feel this way," Andrews told Today's Parents. "So often the big feelings and changes we go through as new mothers are overlooked, brushed aside, or misunderstood completely. I shared the image to my Instagram feed to journal about my feelings...It was only my intention to show the beauty I felt at that very moment."

 

A photo posted by Erica (@laughing.moon) on

"New mamas need exactly what their new babies need...love, warmth, food, and security," Andrews told said. "It is unrealistic to expect us to just fall back into normalcy. We need time to process that big changes, to move through the sheer happiness, the unexpected grief, the feeling of your heart being stretched bigger than it ever has been."

Related: The Problem with the Way We Talk About Breastfeeding

The image of Andrews' postpartum mirror selfie went viral after it was shared by baby-sling manufacturer Sakura Bloom. Once the image went live, thanks and appreciation from mothers everywhere poured in.

Erica Andrews postpartum selfie comments

Erica Andrews postpartum selfie

So far, the post has received more than 130,000 likes and 36,000 shares.