If you haven't given birth, you could be forgiven for thinking that once you leave the delivery room, babe in arms, your once rotund belly will be flat once more.
Firstly, you might think this because, you know, the baby has left your body.
But also, you might have been given this impression by the innumerable 'bounce-back' magazine covers, articles and photoshoots which proliferate the idea that a flat tummy is immediately achievable post pregnancy.
Well, obviously some people are extremely lucky or have exceptionally great genetics. And then others go into exercise overdrive, while pretending that they haven't moved a muscle.
Either way, those people are a minority. Post-natal bodies keep the shape they have been in for the last nine months, and it can take a while to go down.
They also might have red stretch marks across them, and scars if you've had a caesarean.
These tummies are normal, and, as Elise Raquel points out, rather beautiful.
She posted this photo over the summer of herself a few hours after giving birth.
Her stomach is still round, as though still pregnant, and she's looking down at it.
She captions the photo:
Let's talk postpartum bodies! I asked @belleverdiglionephotography to take this photo, just hours after giving birth to Willa, in my rawest and most vulnerable state. I was in pain and I was overcome by a flood of emotions. Elated to have welcomed our beautiful girl and so empowered and proud of what my body and I had just done! It's a strange feeling to look down and still see a bump, even though you're holding your baby in your arms, even after doing it three times. It's not easy to go home with a baby and still have to wear maternity clothes. With my first I was adamant I would just "bounce back". Everyone would say "you're young, you'll loose the baby weight in no time!" But you know what, I didn't, I never have in fact. With each baby I've gained a few more kilos and a few more stretch marks. I used to feel the need to cover up in this newborn stage, I didn't want to see my body in this state, so why would anyone else? It's taken me three babies, but I've finally realised this postpartum body isn't something to hide! I am beyond proud for what this body has given and sacralised. I am thankful that my body is able to carry and birth babies naturally. I am NOT ashamed of my (many) new stripes and my postpartum body. And neither should you! Let's celebrate postpartum bodies, in all their glory. The female body is incredible and I am so proud of what mine has done!
The photograph has almost 2.5k likes and hundreds of comments from women giving their support, praising her openness and explaining how they would have loved to see this image earlier.
Australian Elise also received some criticism for posting the photograph. So she followed it up with another one, three days ago.
The three photographs depict Elise's baby bump and her elder daughter embracing and kissing it.
Hopefully these photos will prove how your body, like yourself, if meant to change, grow and move forwards. If you've made a miracle, why would you want you're body to be pre-miracle eh? Here's to the post-miracle bodies.