Wife, mother and body confidence advocate January Harshe wants women to “take back postpartum” and reclaim it from anyone who says a post-birth body should look a certain way.
Harshe noticed a need for change when she saw that many of the Instagram posts using the hashtag “#postpartum” were advertisers.
“It was mostly wraps and creams and gimmicks and spam that had nothing to do with the actual postpartum period of motherhood,” Harshe, 36, tells PEOPLE. “I got frustrated and I asked moms to make a change. My followers started using #takebackpostpartum to post about pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.”
What started as a hashtag developed into a movement and became its own Instagram page.
“I think women have expectations that postpartum should be picturesque and perfect, and it’s not,” says the Austin, Texas-based mother of six. “It’s messy and chaotic. Your body changes – it just does, it’s normal. Take postpartum back from media and companies that say we should look a certain way, and show them what it really does look like.”
The Instagram account now has over 21,000 followers and is full of posts depicting all aspects of motherhood and the bodies that go along with it.
Repost @bearthkeeper. 💕 ・・・ I took this photo about a month ago now. Me with my squishy mama tummy, 6 months postpartum after 2 pregnancies with my naked babies on my hips. I wanted to remember my body in that moment in all it's honesty and glory, without fear or shame. I'm posting this photo now with a message. Some women bounce right back into their pre-pregnancy form post birth and that's fabulous. Some women take years to feel 'strong' again and thats fabulous too. I hope that all women may feel strong and in love with their bodies exactly as they are now though. Loving your body only when it's 'in-shape' and to your 'photograph worthy' standards is like loving your children ONLY when they are well behaved. Now that's just silly isn't it? She is the temple from which life has grown. She is the incubator of life. She breathes and stretches and transitions and shape shifts. She is the manifested truth of your life's journey. So I challenge you now, to soften your harsh inner dialogue and your self-demeaning judgments, to open your eyes and your hearts to the truth that exists NOW. You're nothing less than Divine. In fact you are a warrior. I bow to you. And to all the ItWorks folks. Do what you do, but it's already working for me so please no sales haggling. Women are beautiful exactly as they are and don't need some 'all natural wrap' or 'greens' to feel good about themselves. Honestly, if you really are in need of greens- PLANT A GARDEN. No time? SUPPORT YOUR SMALL LOCAL FARMERS AT THE FARMERS MARKETS. In peace! ✌🌿✌#postpartum #takebackpostpartum #4thtrimester #selflove #iamstrong #loveyourself #stretchmarks #babies #motherhood #bodypositive #myfavoritestripes
“Just today I posted a photo and one woman said, ‘This post made me fall in love with my stretch marks,’ ” says Harshe. “This is exactly what I’m trying to do. One woman saw a picture and she saw what her body looks like and thought, ‘That’s beautiful.’ ”
She hopes everyone that follows the page can take away that sense of positivity and community.
“I hope they get solidarity that they’re not alone in what they’re going through,” she says, “and to love themselves where they are at in their stage in their motherhood.”