"Here I am, day 1 postpartum, in my mesh underwear."
Mom and YouTuber Samantha McSwain is going viral after sharing her postpartum images with the world and we love her for it.
The Hawaii-based influencer didn't always understand how much a person's body changes during pregnancy, but after three pregnancies she knows that the journey isn't about "bouncing back" but rather moving forward.
That's why she shares her story with more than 139,000 Instagram followers and 180,000 YouTube subscribers. She wants to normalize how pregnancy changes bodies because even now, in 2020, some people are not aware that a "baby bump" doesn't disappear when the baby is born.
"Knowing that we carried a baby for nine months our bodies are unbelievable and we need to remember that," she tells Motherly. "The stretch marks, stretchy skin, cellulite, everything is all beautiful and worth it."
Each of her three pregnancies has been different and her body is different now. And that's normal and cool and beautiful.
During McSwain's second pregnancy she developed stretch marks and skin discoloration and she struggled with diastasic recti (also known abdominal separation). At times she says her itchy skin and the diastasic recti were challenging.
"I felt like my stomach didn't have enough room," she explains. But her body made room for her babies and the world needs to make room for women with all kinds of postpartum bodies and support postpartum recovery. Every postpartum body is valid and deserves acceptance.
McSwain is teaching that lesson to trolls who wander into her comments sections.
"It's so easy to scroll through social media and start comparing ourselves to people in Hollywood and all of a sudden our confidence is gone and we no longer love ourselves because so and so looks better than us," McSwain tells Motherly. I took this photo to show mothers everywhere that we need to love our bodies no matter what it may look like because having a baby is the most precious and sacred moment."
But McSwain knows her body and her mind are strong and she doesn't let the comments get her down.
Her youngest is now 6 months old and she is slowly building up her postpartum fitness regime in a way that works for her and is supported by her medical care providers. Through strength training and abdominal exercise she's moving forward but she refuses to push herself too hard and took a break during the stressful weeks of quarantine.
Her body has changed and that is okay. She wants every mother (and everyone who interacts with mothers) to understand that.
Her journey is her own and her stomach is not up for debate. Her body worked hard to grow three children and she's honoring that act by loving it back.
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