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It’s really quite simple — I wanted to tell a story about the strength and resilience of women post-childbirth that I feel goes largely unacknowledged in today’s world. To reassure women that childbirth is ok; yes it’s painful but it is a positive pain, one that has purpose and is just part of the journey, a rite of passage into motherhood. To make visible other emotions that are far more powerful: the joy, the overwhelming love and the triumphant victory every new mother feels. In my mind this is the supportive message we should be passing on to future generations rather than paralysing them with fear.


Very early on in the project I knew I wanted to concentrate on the first twenty-four hours, when a woman’s body is engulfed by hormones, to capture the unrelenting physicality of the moment, straight from the battlefield. Sweat still glistening on the mothers’ skin, the translucent umbilical cord, freshly severed, and wide-eyed wonder as the women come to terms with the magnitude of what they have achieved and survived.

I leafleted Hackney, the borough where I live to find my recruits. I was clear I did not want to cast people on looks, age, race or class — but to include all who responded. As the series developed over the past five years, the mantra of calm running through the images was impossible to ignore. I find the collection of images quite defiant and beautiful, challenging the expected vision of those first twenty-four hours, a pure celebration of what it means to be a mother.

Dedicated to Ruby and Herb who started me on this journey.

Jenny Lewis

 

HMP

 

Frida and Ethan

Marley and Etta

Meredith and Lina

Liana and Archer

Suphrawadee and Evelyn

Lottie and Lily

Kate and Elen

Anna and Sky

Jenny and Agnes

Idoya and Nahia

Xanthe and Louie

Catherine and Raya

Veronika and Eden

Shenelle and Arissa

Karla and River

Mairead and Fia

Elizabeth and Anton

Danila and Zara

Aga and Olympia

Clare and Henry

Laure and Tyrick

Mairead and Arlo

Charlotte and Vivienne

Leanh and Lachlan

Rebecca and Osiris

Chieska and Floyd

Theresa and Tommy

Caroline and Silas

Rae and Renwick

Leda and Elektra

Lucy and Milla

Tara and Penelope

Clemmie and Imogen

Jhanne and Lily

Harriet and Greta

Nicola and Verity

Ana and Barney

Helen and Hudson

Jenny and Nora

Bertie and Alma

Jenny and Max

Jenny and Cicely

Jenny and Rudy

Gitta and Til

Hazel and Rudy

Dilek and Noah

kyle and Winona

Katharina and Tito

Rosie and Alba

Lorna and Josephine

Tamsyn and Eve-Marie

Tessa and Lois

Lizzie and Fred

Katy and Ada

Kim and Perseus

Rut and Jonian

Laura and Finn

Cassie and Levi

Rosie and Buddy

Jyoti and Phoenix

Trini and Carmen

Ariadne and Delphi

Lou and Jax

Marinella and Leandro

Olivera and Albie

Lara and Martha

Nicola and Jemima

Gemma and Reuben

Francesca and Aurelia

Kate and Leo

Hannah and Romilly

Tara and Inca

Karin and Johannes

Joti and Kiran

Hannah and Louis

Emma and Arthur

Jenny and Suki

Karen and Ava-lucia

Jenny and Mabel

Karin and Catrin

Nicky and Oscar

Judith, Adamissi and Sinoya

Liviness and son

Madalitso and Linda

Alinafe and Boyson

Esther and Joyce

Jennifer and Jonathan

Efrida and son

Miriam and Caroline

Rita and Ruth