Pregnancy and birth: Mum Clemmie Telford on candid Instagram images

By Lauren Turner
BBC News

image source, Holly McGlynn

We're all used to seeing pictures of adorable newborns on our social media feeds, bundled up and button-nosed.

But what's seen less often is the reality of a woman's body at 40 weeks pregnant, usually tired and anxious about the journey ahead.

Blogger Clemmie Telford bared (nearly) all in May with a photo of herself taken on the day her third child was due - sitting on the loo in her knickers, make-up free and staring at the viewer.

Now she's followed that up with a naked picture of herself with daughter Greta at nine months old on the same toilet, captioning it "40 weeks in vs 40 weeks out".

'Strength and tension'

Her expression is worlds apart from that in the first picture, smiling with joy as she holds her little girl.

So why did she want to share such uncompromising pictures with the world?

"The first picture was taken as part of a series (by photographer Lara Downie)", explains Clemmie, curator of Mother of all Lists.

"As my second child had been born on that toilet, I said: 'Why don't you get a picture of me here?'.

image source, Lara Downie/Ben Telford
image captionClemmie says there's a stark contrast between the two images

"When the image came back, I wasn't sure if I liked it - but I respected it. I don't think you see many pregnancy shots that aren't contrived.

"That look of strength and of tension about what's to come is written all across my face. I thought it was a powerful picture, but I hadn't given it much thought.

"Then it got a huge response from women about how that moment in time feels. You're staring down the precipice of what's about to happen, one of the few things in life you have little control over."

But as well as that vulnerability, there's "such strength" in that pose, says Clemmie, who's also mum to Bertie, five, and three-year-old Woody.

With the picture of Greta at 40 weeks old, she wanted to "capture the stark contrast and how different my demeanour is".

"My mum put it really nicely," she says. "She said: 'We didn't even know who Greta was in that first picture'. But now we can't imagine life without her.

"It was a real reminder that when you're at 40 weeks, you can't imagine having a nine-month old on your lap, and all of the joy to come. It seems like the biggest miracle ever that Greta was in there."

'Keeping it real'

She adds: "I hope it's comforting to people. It's my nature to be open and honest. Pregnancy doesn't look like it does in retouched images you see - you're massive, you're cross and you're stressed.

"It's such a huge journey and you can't see how you will ever emerge. So I hope the pictures help people see there's light at the end of the tunnel. The best thing you can do as a mother is feel confident in yourself."

The images, and the message, have resonated with women, with the post getting more than 10,000 likes in a few hours.

Pippa Tetley, who's 30 weeks' pregnant with her third child, told BBC News: "It's a great image. She's very brave to let it all hang out, so to speak.

"I think the nakedness is important as it makes it much more raw. It shows quite how much the body changes and that a woman's body is beautiful in all its forms - not just what you see in the media."

Kate Bell says she loves the "honesty and beauty" of the pictures, writing on Instagram: "These are photos we can share with our daughters that show the authentic truth and wonder of our bodies not the photoshopped idea of 'beauty' that for many is impossible."

And Caroline Danks adds: "I remember looking at myself in the mirror in the changing room at H&M on the day I went into labour thinking I looked ridiculous. Like you, I'm sure I didn't.

"You're both gorgeous, thank you for keeping it real and sharing the ride so far."

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