Postpartum weight. Stretch marks. Scars. Changes in breast size and shape. Differences in sex drive and sexual pleasure. These are just a few of the body-mind-heart centered issues on the plates of new (and not-so-new) mothers. For many, not much of what comes after pregnancy is deeply explored or educated upon. First things first, the pregnancy and birth (and rightly so perhaps). However, how we move into the fourth trimester, or the time following our births, is a tremendously important time for mothers, and therefore for their families and communities.
The 4th Trimester Bodies Project is the ongoing photo documentary and series created by photographer and mother, Ashlee Wells Jackson. Jackson's vision is dedicated to, "embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought to our bodies by motherhood, childbirth and breastfeeding."
The series, hosted by Jackson on 4thtrimesterbodies.com, features black and white photos of women wearing black panties and brasseries, while holding their babies in their arms. And while the photos are gorgeous and offer other women a valuable and meaningful chance to see the postpartum bodies of other women, for me the real richness here is in the personal stories and histories that the women share and that accompanies each photo.
Jackson is always welcoming women to be part of this ongoing series. You can find out more on her FAQ page. And as explained there, "4th Trimester" is used loosely and that if a woman is a mother, she is warmly welcomed into the project. All mothers are welcome: those who have miscarried or lost a child at any age, foster/adoptive/step-mothers, as well as grandmothers and great-grands-plus. Multigenerational groups too. As Jackson shares, "It doesn’t matter how you’ve come to motherhood or how old your children are. If you’ve the bravery, we’d love to photograph you."
What do you think? Do you have the bravery Jackson is looking for?