Postpartum Photography by Edmonton Family Photographers | Hobbs Photography
This is our seventh year of A Mother’s Beauty. We have photographed over 100 mothers and been the vessel to share their stories of motherhood. Every year, while we tear up reading and sharing the stories we cannot believe this project we created. We had the intention of making something beautiful, but weren’t prepared for something so powerful.
Grab a tea, make sure the kiddos are entertained for a moment and sit and scroll through these amazing mother’s photos and stories.
“If I am being honest [parenting a child with a serious health issue] is exhausting. Mentally, emotionally, physically. Sometimes it feels like half of my role is a mother and the other half is a caregiver. It is all day, every day. Like every other mother and on top of it there is worrying, researching, praying, pleading, wondering. Dreaming about what life might look like if things were different. Then feeling guilty for allowing yourself to go there. Wishing it was you instead.”
“With my first daughter I felt very scared, I didn’t feel capable of doing it on my own at 19, thankfully my mom was there along with my boyfriend (now husband) to keep me motivated I ended up delivering her vaginally which was a scary first time process. With my second I felt a little more comfortable and had a more positive experience. With my third baby I have gotten a midwife and look forward to having a waterbirth. The recovery process is much more of a struggle mentally/ than physically for me.”
“I struggle with feeling like I’m not enough. I feel guilty when I make time for myself. If I go get coffee along or go out with friends or just take a shower the voice in my head tells me I should be doing something for my family or being a better mom.”
“I didn’t know how strong I was until I had my first baby. The amount of mental strength and physical exertion that is sometimes necessary in the birth process was something I was not prepared for. But I did it, twice. I now see women as fierce creatures who are capable of anything they put their mind and energy towards. Raising humans, whether you birthed them or not, is one of the hardest things. It requires so much patience and strength!
“A large portion of my life has been spent working towards success in the form of career goals and monetary achievements and while deep down I knew that wasn’t who I am, it wasn’t until this past year of having my son that I’ve started to live truer to who I am. I’ve started living more slowly and organically. I’ve started to stop and appreciate the small moments; to spend less on clothes and hair, to value success in the form of a happy, healthy family, and a work/ life balance. This may sound cliché, but I feel as though becoming a mother has brought me closer to my true, authentic self. I feel as though becoming a mother has been about discovering a part of me that I didn’t know existed. It’s caused me to learn more about who I am and what I want in life. My son’s existence has made me a more compassionate and understanding person. He makes me want to be good and honest because I want him to grow up to be a good person, with a kind heart. What has surprised me the most about becoming a mother is how deeply and differently I love my son compared to any other love. I feel like the more I mother him, the more my heart has changed. No matter how annoyed or frustrated I get with the food throwing, whining, toys thrown everywhere right after I put them away, there is not a single moment where I don’t feel anything but unconditional love for him.”
“The hardest thing to accept about my postpartum self would definitely be my body. It still terrifies me to be seen at a public pool in a swimsuit, and it breaks my heart too, as I know that I’m the one my children want to play with in the pool the most. I’m a work in progress on body confidence, but if anyone can get me in a swimsuit, it’s definitely my kids-their the loves of my life.”
“My biggest motherhood struggle would be that I catch myself feeling insecure about having no biological relationship with my children. I worry that they won’t feel as connected and I worry that family members, friends, and strangers won’t view me as their mother. My postpartum mental health struggles have been intense. I was feeling useless and helpless due to not being able to provide for our newborns in the same ways as their birth mom. Which spiked my depression and other mental health issues. I struggled with not feeling adequate as a parent and as a partner. Before our twins were born, I chose to finally seek help and have since been taking strides to improve my mental health. In turn, our home has become happier and so have I.”
“Becoming a mother was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We waited 2 years just for an appointment at the fertility clinic. I went through so many diagnostic tests, needles, biopsies, oral medications, and I’ve peed on a lot of sticks. We’ve had miscarriage scares and extra monitoring with high risk pregnancies. The stress of the royal alex clinic closing and having to move to the private clinic being announced the day after our appointment to begin my 2nd pregnancy and having to start all over. The in between of my wife trying to get pregnant only to be told “unexplained infertility”’ and having to watch her hurt and heal. Motherhood is hard even before becoming a mother. I’ve been poked and prodded since 2015, I’ve breastfed since 2016, and I now have 3 beautiful kids climbing all over me and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Motherhood is really giving everything you have to your children.”
“Motherhood has made stronger than I have ever felt before in caring and loving for my children in a way I have never cared or loved anyone else before. They have made me more patient and understanding even though the frustrations, sleepless nights and temper tantrums. They have made me a better woman, mom, friend, and daughter and allowed me to see the world through a different lens and through their eyes.”
“Not only my mother, but every single woman in my life has struggled with negative self-talk, low self-esteem, and disordered eating. I am no exception. I struggled with binge eating and bulimia for over 10 years before becoming pregnant. The amount of self-loathing you have to have to do that to yourself day in and day out is incredible. I felt like there was nothing I could do to stop the cycle. But oh my god, becoming pregnant with my first daughter changed everything. It was like my life had a purpose.. and that purpose was to instill an incredible amount of self-love and confidence into this tiny human. While a large part of my struggles with body image stemmed from my beautiful mother and how she viewed her own body (even when she thought we didn’t notice), we have actively worked together to ensure that it stops with us. I will do everything in my power to ensure that my girls always know just how beautiful they are.”
“After the picture-perfect home birth of my first baby, I was over the moon. I had struggled with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders for the majority of my life, so I assumed that the postpartum period would not hand me an easy time. But it was amazing. Despite having an incredibly colicky baby and a husband working shift work, I was on top of the world. My life had a purpose. I wanted another baby as soon as it was possible. Fast-forward to my second birth – which was fraught with medical complications and a change from home to hospital, and my confidence in my body’s ability to give life was shaken. Almost instantly, my anxiety settled in. I wasn’t sleeping – but rather, hovering over my tiny baby to ensure she was still breathing. I checked the locks and the alarm to ensure that everything was secure multiple times a night. I became obsessed with the “what-ifs” and catastrophized everything. And then came the anger. Anger so white-hot that it terrified me. The smallest things set me into a rage. My husband breathing too loudly, a baby that wouldn’t settle easily, slow-moving traffic. But do you think I noticed? No. It wasn’t until I was at a maternal mental health workshop where I realized that I could check off every box next to the “postpartum rage” symptoms. My world collapsed. This was not what I expected.”
“My friends were all my age and that meant many social situations required me to conceal every piece of motherhood I carried. Don’t look it, don’t talk about it, just pretend it doesn’t exist. I remember purposely never sharing my age as it would instantly turn fellow mothers away from me. My body had completely changed. My breasts leaked, my body grew in size, I was covered in stretch marks. Here I was at 17 and I couldn’t relate to anyone and I couldn’t share how lonely it was. The pressure we felt as young parents was so heavy because everyone was just waiting for us to fail. We had to show up and give 150% to avoid the “of course that happened, you’re young parents” or “you’re doing it wrong and you don’t know better because you are young”.”
“Neither of my children’s births went according to plan. I’m more than okay with that and here’s why: two emergency cesarean sections saved mine and my babies’ lives. I labored for 30+ hours with my firstborn. Throughout labor, I felt at ease and in control. When things took a turn for the worst, we were in the operating room within minutes. I completely surrendered and let the healthcare team take over. After all, they’d done this many times before and I hadn’t. For a variety of reasons, a c-section was scheduled at 39.5 weeks for my second born. The night before I was scheduled to deliver, my water broke and labor progressed quickly. Upon arrival
“The hardest thing to accept about my postpartum self has been my new identity as “mother”. I know that sounds crazy, and it was something that really took me by surprise. Despite me thinking that it was going to be a natural transition, the adjustment to motherhood has not been an easy one. After all, I’m an educated woman with experience with babies and children, an older sibling to three sisters, and a nurse. How naïve and ignorant of me to think that motherhood would be an “easy” next step.”
“Baby blues hit me like a brick wall with my first. It eventually faded and was replaced by postpartum depression. I had dealt with depression most of my life up to that point so while the narrative in my head had changed, and my ways of dealing with it changed, the emotions weren’t new to me. Throughout my second pregnancy, I dealt with panic attacks seemingly triggered by nothing in particular. This followed me through postpartum and the postpartum depression I was prepared for became instead postpartum anxiety which slowly evolved into
“I started out my breastfeeding journey with my eldest seven years ago as an experience in dealing with undiagnosed lip and tongue ties, blood and a lack of support and knowledge which eventually lead me down the road of exclusively pumping. Pumping for two years in fact. With the pregnancy of my second, I was determined to succeed
“I have struggled with my weight for a long time and I struggle with seeing myself as beautiful sometimes as I can often only see the imperfections. After having a rough pregnancy due to severe morning (all day) sickness and having doctors constantly worried that my baby would be too small I’ve come to appreciate the fact that I had a little extra so my son would be able to take all the nutrients he needed. Postpartum has been a struggle as everything seems to have shifted and areas that I was proud of have changed so much I don’t recognize it anymore. Slowly with much work, my body is starting to regain the strength it had pre-pregnancy.”
“I honestly hate my body most of the time. Part of the reason I wanted to take part in “A Mother’s Beauty” was to try and re-frame how I feel about my body. I want to feel more motivated to take better care of myself for my girls. I want to figure out how to love my body, so that my girls learn to love their bodies.”
“I think we all carry emotional trauma of some sort with us. For me, my father was very abusive, and when I was 15 he beat me to the point that my Mom went and got a hunting rifle and had to threaten him with it to make him stop. She got me out of the house shortly after, and he and I had a strained relationship for the next 21 years. That’s when I took a stand for my self and changed my expectations of who I thought he needed to be in my life. I forgave him, but I also made the healthy choice to accept him for who he is from afar and ended our relationship. I am now raising my son on my own, without his father or mine in the picture. The man who became my Dad and contributed to me in a positive
“My journey as a foster and adoptive mom is something that weighs heavy in my life. I am so proud of the love and the home we provide for our foster children. My son E
“After Maeva’s birth, I’ve had a few complications. I have a ton of loose skin on my belly and no belly button from it sagging, Diastasis recti, umbilical hernia, and multiple organ prolapses. Until my organs prolapsed I had no idea they could actually fall out of place, and out of your vagina. No one warned me about this possibility. I have spent months in pelvic floor physio to strengthen my core and pelvic floor. I wear a pessary, a supportive device to hold my bladder up. Recently I saw a urogynecologist where it was deemed surgery was the best option for me. This whole part of the journey stole every ounce of identity I had. I don’t recognize myself. I am not connected at all to this body that I am trapped in. feel like my body failed me. I feel gross and unattractive. Every single day I have to watch what I do, in constant fear of making the organs prolapse more. Lifting my daughter is a big no-no. Running. Working out. Every single thing that’s physical I have to mentally think about. It’s exhausting. It’s depressing. It’s overwhelming. I have seen a total of 7 bodies like mine. 7. That’s with searching all over social media outlets. I see women with stretch marks everywhere. I see women that bounced back everywhere. But only 7 with saggy loose skin with no belly buttons. It’s hard to feel good about yourself when you don’t see anyone that looks like you. What’s also harmful is telling women that we will all connect with our child and feel an overwhelming love we have never experienced the moment we meet them for the first time. These things set women like myself up for failure. I don’t look I used to. My mind doesn’t think the way it used to. And I didn’t connect with my daughter for over a year. None of that happened to me.”
“My son had shoulder dystocia, so the last minute or so of his birth was a little traumatic. In that moment, in an uncontrollable, almost animalistic impulse, I began to sing. In the moment I least expected, but in the moment I needed it, in the moment my baby needed it the most, a new strength in me awakened. The feelings that coexist within you while you are both strong and vulnerable for the ones you love, transforms you. It transformed me. In that moment, the most powerful, yet gentle strength inside of me came out, manifested in song. I was singing my baby a lullaby to wake – isn’t the irony in that is so fucking beautiful?! I knew everything was going to be OK. The world never gives you anything more than you can handle, and this birth, this beautiful birth, is what the world had given me.”
“The postpartum journey as a mother of a child with a rare birth defect is grueling, at times very lonely, full of fear and pain but also filled with an intense love and need to protect your little one. I’ve spent many hours being frustrated and disappointed in my body for building my son with a defect that has caused him pain on almost daily basis. But I always come back to the words the Nurse Practitioner at the NICU said to me, “I truly believe that these children are blessed only to parents that can handle it”.
“I got married at 22 and at the time neither myself or my husband wanted kids. Years later when we decided we did want to have a family, and couldn’t get pregnant, it felt like karma or a dose of
“It’s slowly starting to become more common, but I don’t often see myself represented in the media’s take on parenthood. As a trans non-binary birth parent, I tend to feel excluded and dysphoric a lot of the time when I see memes and articles about “women, motherhood, goddesses, females” and other such language. I would love to see more folks, particularly birth-workers and healthcare professionals, using more inclusive language and a greater variety of experiences when talking about experiences of pregnancy, birth, loss, and parenthood. I have often really had to search to find pages that include me, doctors that acknowledge me, doulas that realize that not all birthing people are women.”
“My biggest postpartum struggle would have to be giving one of my babies back only 3 years into my motherhood journey. It was my biggest fear and it came true. People tell me I’m strong but I don’t feel it. I had no choice. I woke up the next day and my baby was gone, not a damn thing I could do. The only thing I could do was keep waking up every day. 3 years later life feels like a crazy blur, I don’t even know how I got here. I know how I did but it doesn’t make me feel remarkable or strong or anything. I’m just a grieving mom, I wasn’t given a choice. The biggest struggle I’ll now forever live with is having to live life without a human my body created and nurtured and loved infinitely, I have to live life with him in my heart and not in my arms. I have to live life knowing my baby no longer exists at all on this earth. The only physical piece of him left here is this box full of dust.”
“Mothering in an abusive environment is extremely difficult. Not only is it difficult but it is dangerous. I lost my children due to family violence. It’s not to be taken lightly. CFS will take your children. And rightfully so. How are you supposed to take care of your kids if you can’t even take care of yourself? If you cant ensure your own safety, how can you protect your children if you can’t protect yourself? It’s terrifying. I remember I would start to get sickening anxiety around 3:30/4pm when it would start to get close to the time my boyfriend would come home if he was working. If he wasn’t working I remember constantly hiding my phone, keeping it on silent. I wasn’t allowed to have friends, I wasn’t allowed to talk to my own mother., I wasn’t allowed to be my own person. I was owned by him and I would do as he says. It was so hard to mother in that environment because I was afraid of mothering wrong and getting in trouble for it. Or for being yelled at for no reason and having the kids have to watch it.”
“I think a massively detrimental issue with our culture is that we make no provision for the rite of passage that is motherhood. We celebrate a pregnancy and a birth, but once the baby is born, the mother is left behind and almost forgotten. And then, quite suddenly, the pressure is on her to catch up, buck up, patch up, fix up and get back to status quo ASAP. Where is her ceremony? Where is her celebration? Where is her christening as a new being?
I hope for a day where our culture sees stretch marks, wrinkles, great hairs, well loved breasts, and soft bellies as distinguished markings of someone who has known a great honour. Not things that are in desperate need of “fixing”.”
“Miscarriages are a dirty bastard. I have had 4 pregnancies and 2 miscarriages. After my first child I had two miscarriages. It was traumatic. I was lost felt like less of women and felt pressure from the outside world to have a second child but reality was that it wasn’t happening ! I lost myself in the miscarriages but not just because of mental struggles but because of hormonal imbalances and the physical strain on my body.”
“When my children were born, I came down with postpartum depression and anxiety. After my son was born in 2015 I had no idea what depression was, or even that I had it, but I pushed it aside because when he turned 4 months old I became pregnant with my daughter – I taught hard to push everything aside and not let it surface. In 2016 when my daughter was born I felt good and like I could handle things, but then it all came crashing down when she turned 4 months old. I was in such a dark place that I made a plan to take my own life. My husband thankfully worked with mental health at his job and recognized my low mood as something much more. He sat with me, as I cried on the kitchen floor, and asked me if I was thinking about suicide – I said yes. He asked if I had a plan, I said yes. He scooped me up in his arms and told me it was time to get to the hospital. I checked myself in and was held under the mental health act for 24 hours. The doctors didn’t give me any clues as to why I was feeling the way I was, they told me that I had a lot of anxiety and that I had to talk to my family doctor. I
“We need to change the way that the world sees fat and thin and big and small. I can preach body confidence and self-love til the cows come home. But
If you loved these postpartum stories, you can find our previous A Mother’s Beauty sessions HERE
Thank you so much to each and every one of these incredible humans who share themselves and their stories with us. Each year, we are simply so grateful that you trust us to be part of your journey. Each of you offered yourselves so freely and honestly, with grace and vulnerability, it was an
For the last few years, we have been fortunate enough to have some wonderful moms volunteer to help us with our evening. We are always busy shooting and it puts our minds at ease knowing we have people we trust to ensure that each and every person has a beautiful experience.
Asha and Rachelle, thank you for being so open to helping us. Our evening really wouldn’t be the same without you. You did anything we asked of you without hesitation. To my stepdaughter, Jen Jen, thank you also for always being willing to help in any way we need. And most importantly of all, thank you for initiating me into motherhood. Watching you as a mother and woman just makes me so fucking proud every single day.
Thank you for being here. We’re already looking forward to next year.
xx Aimee & Jenna
We would love for you to follow along on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK and PINTEREST. We use these platforms to share our current wedding, family, and birth work. Aimee is also working on a long-term postpartum photography project about women’s first six weeks postpartum. If you’re in the Edmonton area, are expecting and are interested in participating, please email email@example.com.