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'Astronomical pain': Ashley Graham shares candid truth about birth


Aug. 05, 2020

Model and first-time mama Ashley Graham has opened up about birth, breastfeeding and body-image after baby.
In an interview with her friend, Frozen actress Kristen Bell, Graham, currently quarantining with her son, seven-month-old Isaac, admitted that she had no idea labour was going to "hurt that bad".
"Let me just go there for a second," she says in the article, which has been published in Elle. "Every mother talks about, 'Oh yeah, it's painful'.  Whether they got an epidural or not, or a C-section, whatever happened, they're like, 'Yeah, it hurt.' And they say it kind of calmly like that. They don't go into the astronomical pain that you go through, especially if you choose to go natural. So there's that."
While having a baby just before heading into lockdown has had its challenges, Graham admits there have been silver linings, too.
"I've been able to watch Isaac grow up before my eyes," she says. "Experiencing every single moment with him has been a dream come true. I feel really bad for the next kid, because I don't know if they're going to get this much attention."
The article is accompanied by a striking nude photo of Graham breastfeeding Isaac, captured by her husband Justin.
"When I look at my new stretch marks and the changes that my body went through, it reminds me that, as women, we're all superheroes," the Sports Illustrated covergirl says. "I'm always reminded that our bodies were built to do this. It's such a beautiful thing to be able to give birth, but I didn't realise it until afterward."
The 32-year-old shared that during pregnancy she had to re-imagine her relationship with her body.
"I was gaining weight so rapidly," she says. "Then, to get stretch marks on my stomach, that to me was like, 'Oh my gosh. I can't believe this happened.' At first it felt devastating, and then when I met Isaac, I said, 'No, this is exactly what every woman has talked about for ages. This is not just a battle wound. This is something that has changed my life forever, and I'm going to celebrate my new body.'"
And while the first-time mum says her instinct is to offer advice to other pregnant women, remembering what it was like to receive so much unsolicited advice helps her keep herself in check.
"If there's a question to be asked, ask it. But other than that, keep your trap shut and just let that mother figure it out. The mummy-shaming on social media is out of control."
Graham also shared her hopes for the world after the coronavirus pandemic - that we continue to take care of one another.
"I think getting out of this quarantine, my biggest hope is that we'll continue to have these same actions toward our neighbours, and we'll be a little bit more sensitive toward them."
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