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After birth: afterbelly

May 9, 2011

Imprints of Birth“Afterbelly.” That’s a new word for me.

Following childbirth, though, the afterbelly can challenge any woman’s body confidence.

Leslie Cunningham — mother, photographer, author of Imprints of Birth — says women who are rookies at childbearing often don’t know the magnitude of what they’re getting into.

Not only are they entering motherhood. They’re also dealing with a belly whose shape, size, and skin tone bear the evidence.

Stretches, sags, wrinkles, and scars make it plain: This is a mother’s body. Maiden no more.

And that’s in a culture expecting all females of every age, from 6 to 96, to be maiden-like.

Imprints of Birth offers Leslie’s encounter with her own post-childbirth belly and the steps she has traced toward greater self-acceptance. The book displays an array of poignant black-and-white photos of women, their bellies, and the children born from their bellies.

The photos speak volumes, contrasting women’s fleshy, body-centered, life-giving creative power with the culture’s flimsy, vacant framework for a woman’s figure.

Leslie’s intention is to put the book in the hands of women preparing body, mind, and belly for childbirth. I say: Huzzah.

What do women want? To feel good about our bodies and ourselves.

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