Purnima Sharma

What’s wrong with flaunting your happiness and letting the world know about your baby bump?” That’s what Divya told her mother when the latter questioned her about the need to get a maternity shoot done. Divya was into her ninth month of pregnancy and her mother, Dipika Goswami, who calls herself the “usual conventional-minded, even superstitious mom” was worried about her daughter attracting the evil eye.

Nevertheless, happy that her 26-year-old daughter went ahead with her plans, Goswami goes on to add, “Divya did not just get my go-ahead but also bullied me into gifting her two special gowns just for the shoot. I must say the results have been stunning.”

Remember the days when a baby bump forced women to stay confined to their homes? Well, not anymore. Baby bumps have today become lucrative business ventures, courtesy maternity shoots. 

And there’s no shying away from sporting one. Just a few weeks ago, Victoria’s Secret model Angel Lily Aldridge appeared on the ramp flaunting a protruding tummy. The five-month pregnant supermodel strutted down the runway in a pair of stilettos and a figure-hugging outfit that showed off her stomach. Last year, tennis star Serena Williams was on the cover of Vanity Fair proudly showing off the last stages of her pregnancy. The shoot was reminiscent of Demi Moore’s maternity shoot from more than 26 years ago. Many might remember the furore that this image, despite Moore being both powerful and beautiful, had created at the time.

A few years later, veteran Indian photographer Tarun Khiwal had captured Rina Dhaka in a maternity shoot that was “deemed far ahead of its time”. Twenty years since the stunning picture of the fashion designer made news, the trend has caught on in a big way. So while there have been filmstars like Konkona Sen Sharma, who bared her belly bump for the cover of a fashion magazine, a visibly preggers Kareena Kapoor walked the ramp at a fashion week when she was expecting Taimur.

However, we’re not just talking Bollywood but PLUs too. As new-mom Mohita Dixit says, “Proudly showing your baby bump is akin to telling the world you’re so looking forward to the new role that’s about to unfold in your life.” Together with her husband, Aaroh Darshetkar, the Jaipur-based jewellery designer started her research on how to go about “immortalising” her cherished moments for posterity. “One thing was clear: I wanted the photographer to go along with the ideas I had in mind. And fortunately, that’s what happened.” She now hopes that her baby, Avighn, will be happy to see pictures of her world before he stepped into it.

Now that is a sentiment shared by Rathika Elangovan who was inspired by the “beautifully conceptualised mommy shots of (actress) Amrita Arora”. As her husband Arvind had a similar idea in mind, the two started planning about the perfect props they would need for the photo session. However, last-minute changes on where she would have her delivery — in Bengaluru or Chennai (her parents’ hometown) — put paid to all that. “With just two days in hand, we put together whatever little we could — including picking up a few dresses, slates (to write messages on) and balloons, etc.,” laughs Bengaluru-based Elangovan. The idea was to “go full on and have the maximum fun during the shoot as I am not planning another baby.” Mom to twins Vihaan and Vivaan, she adds, “When I saw the photos, I was finally able to see myself as a picture of ultimate happiness.” 

This happiness is what photographer Shubhannkar Dey aims to showcase when he sets up a maternity shoot. He says tantrums and mood-swings” are part of the game. “I’ve also come across last-minute decisions to have maternity shoots cancelled,” laughs Dey recalling the time he started a maternity shoot at 2 o’ clock in the afternoon and wound it up by six in the evening . The baby arrived just a couple of hours later!

Fortunately, most decisions for these shoots are mulled over much in advance. Many couples prefer having them done in the seventh or in the ninth month. The eighth, considered the critical month, is generally avoided. “However, what matters most is that the belly must be big and protruding because that is what comes across beautifully in the pictures,” adds Marina Aggarwal who, having just completed her maternity shoot, is looking forward to the baby’s arrival in January. The only regret she has is not having a photo session done when she was pregnant with her daughter seven years ago. “Well, that was only because the concept wasn’t known here in India then,” she says. For her, this shoot became all the more special because her first-born, daughter Anaya, was also part of it. And once the baby arrives, the 33-year-old plans to get a ‘baby shoot’ too!

Talking about changing trends — “from the time when pregnancy was a relatively private affair, even for public figures, to what it’s become today”, Delhi-based psychologist Sujatha Sharma says, “Every occasion for the present generation calls for celebration. So when such a major event like a pregnancy happens, they are definitely going to share it with the world.” Photo courtesy: Shubhannkar Dey


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