Birth is a messy — and beautiful, and powerful, and surprising, and difficult — business, and in the past few years people have been working to bring awareness to all of the expectations, complications and aftereffects of something that once might have been considered private or even shameful. The latest initiative to tackle this task is The Life After Birth project, a collaborative effort between Knix (a direct-to-consumer intimates brand, which just launched a maternity line), the Empowered Birth Project and Carriage House Birth, a doula and childbirth education agency based in Brooklyn co-founded by Domino Kirke.
The three companies sought out submissions from women that depicted life postpartum and received hundreds of submissions, eventually selecting more than 250 photos from women including celebrities like Christy Turlington Burns and Amy Schumer (who has already been doing her part to demystify the postpartum experience), the Knix and Carriage House founders themselves, as well women from all over the country, in the military and more. In addition to sharing their intimate and revealing photos, depicting everything from birth to breastfeeding, recovering bodies to raw emotion, these moms also shared extremely personal insights into their pregnancies and the weeks post-birth, all in the interest of celebrating and normalizing postpartum life.
In a press release, Knix says founder Joanna Griffiths was inspired to create a line of leakproof, stretchy and postpartum-friendly undergarments and to kick off the art installation after giving birth and becoming frustrated with the messaging she saw around “bouncing back” and “postbaby bodies” on the Internet. A survey of Knix customers revealed that 90% of postpartum women say they’ve received comments about their bodies after they gave birth and 76% felt pressure to “bounce back,” and so the traveling art exhibit – dedicated to showing the beauty and reality of women’s postpartum bodies – was born.
Below, see images from the gallery exhibit, which goes on display this week in N.Y.C. at 27 Greene St., and then will travel to Toronto and L.A. this fall, followed by Austin, Dallas, Denver and more (dates are still being finalized) – and check out the project’s Instagram account for even more powerful and inspiring photos.
Says Christy Turlington Burns: “This is me pale but still smiling on day one at home as a new mom. Though I’d lost two liters of blood post delivery, I can’t remember being more tired or more happy to have my baby girl in my arms after 42 weeks of pregnancy.”
For their maternity launch, Knix also photographed moms-to-be and new moms breastfeeding, showing off C-section scars and more.
Mom of twins Lori Yerry shares photos of her body after having twins – as well as shots of her breastfeeding them both. “”Do I like my postpartum body? Not particularly, but I am so proud of it. That it was able to carry twins to term and now it provides what they need,” she writes. I have been able to continuously nourish two humans with this stretched, saggy, and scarred body of mine, since conception. And for that, I love my postpartum body.”
A recent mom helps normalize breastfeeding.
Mother and baby bond at the hospital