Postpartum life can be as wild a ride as pregnancy and childbirth, as many new moms can attest—but we don't necessarily always see that. So when Copenhagen, Denmark–based documentary producer Maria Jorstad, the woman behind the popular @triplets_of_copenhagen Instagram, decided to share what her body looks like in the days and weeks after giving birth to triplets via cesarian section, people responded with an outpouring of praise and support.
Jorstad, 36, has been documenting her pregnancy journey since her first ultrasound back in May, when she found out she was having triplets.
Since then, followers have been keeping up with Jorstad (who moved to Denmark from her homeland of Norway last year), her husband Anders, and their two-year-old son, Mikael. That includes both the highs (their wedding day, ultrasounds, sunny afternoons in Copenhagen) and the lows (a nasty belly rash, feeling homesick for Norway, an unexpected trip to the hospital).
The photos that attracted the most attention and praise were the ones showing the dramatic growth of her belly. So, Jorstad figured, why not continue to be real about her experience after giving birth too?
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Week to week with the triplets. ?? What a journey this has been! From the huge shock of learning there were three, to people’s reactions, the numerous scannings/checks and all the preparations and planning for this lifechanging event. Nothing like the ordinary. I’m glad we took these pictures, because this collage really shows the massive growth. It’s strange to have ended up with such a big belly and it’s even stranger that it can stand out like that without falling down! ???? ? #expectingtriplets #triplets #34weekspregnant #mybellyisbiggerthanyours
Sharing the photos of herself postpartum felt like a natural continuation of the journey Jorstad has been on with followers over the past year.
"I had shared the whole pregnancy journey all along, and I figured I’d just continue afterwards," Jorstad tells SELF. "My Instagram account has been kind of a personal blog where I’ve shared and been honest about how it’s been, so I felt like being honest to my followers about it."
So, alongside sweet photos of her adorable babies (Iben, Agnes, and Filip), Jorstad also shared the less awesome aspects of new motherhood. That includes the exhaustion of taking care of three newborns around the clock, the pains of breastfeeding (including a bout of mastitis and thrush), and a belly that's remained bigger and more stretched out for longer than she expected.
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#postpartumbody ? 1 week after the birth of my triplets. ???????????? ? I now have a really weird looking hanging belly, which is still quite heavy. My uterus has not shrinked back yet. Because my belly was so stretched it takes longer than usual. I’m gonna get a belly band/support binder asap, because it’s quite annoying and the sagging makes my c-section scar hurts. I’m really impatient to get my body back! ? #triplets #postpartum #1weekpostpartum
"I now have a really weird looking hanging belly, which is still quite heavy," she wrote at the one-week mark. "My uterus has not shrinked back yet. Because my belly was so stretched it takes longer than usual."
She posted a third photo one month after giving birth. "I still have a weird looking hanging belly, and I am a bit surprised it has not gotten smaller since my last picture three weeks ago," she said in the caption. "Kind of disappointing I must admit, and I am not too happy to share this picture. On the positive side the c-section scar doesn’t hurt anymore, and in the last two days I’ve almost felt like myself again!"
Jorstad believes that we don't see enough depictions of the reality that many women's bodies will look different postpartum—and may continue to look different for a while.
"You don't really see bellies like that, or I haven’t at least. That’s been lacking, I think," she says. "I wanted to share [these pictures] because I don't really see other people doing it, and I think somebody should be doing that."
She hopes that sharing her experience will let other new moms know that it's OK that their bellies don't snap back the minute your baby (or babies) is delivered. "I just wanted to show that it's completely normal to look like this, and it shouldn’t be something you hide. People should know," she says. "It takes time and it’s totally natural. We have to embrace it instead of fighting it."
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#postpartumbody ? 4 weeks after the birth of my triplets. ???????????? ? I still have a weird looking hanging belly, and I am a bit surprised it has not gotten smaller since my last picture three weeks ago. Kind of disappointing I must admit, and I am not too happy to share this picture. On the positive side the c-section scar doesn’t hurt anymore, and in the last two days I’ve almost felt like myself again! Except for this heavy sagging belly that is. ?? I’ve been waiting for some belly bands that were shipped from the US several weeks ago, and they will finally arrive tomorrow. Can’t wait to try them on and see if they have any effect! ? ? #triplets #postpartum #impatient
"In the comments, so many people have said they also had this big belly for weeks and weeks and were hiding it and didn’t feel good about it," she says. Many commenters even expressed gratitude for the unfiltered look at new motherhood, like this one: "Love your honesty! We need more of that when it comes to postpartum struggles!"
People are also grateful that Jorstad didn't sugarcoat her frustration with the way her body looks after birth. "Thanks for sharing your feelings too, since it makes me feel better that other moms feel the same way," one person commented.
What a wonderful reminder that however you feel about your body after giving birth—grateful, impatient, amazed, annoyed, or like it doesn't even belong to you—is totally normal.