We've all seen photos expecting mothers choose to post on social media. They're usually of them, perfectly positioned, their hands resting on their baby bumps in a way that highlights a flawless circle. The light catches them just right and you would swear they’re glowing, they look so calm and peaceful and at serene. Maybe their partners or other kids are part of the photo shoot; maybe there's a ribbon tied around their belly, like all pregnant women routinely walk around the woods in cowboy boots with ribbons tied around their bellies, occasionally pausing to stare pensively into the distance, or hold their hands in the shape of a heart on their bulging midsections.

I am not, for the record, making fun of women who choose to have photo shoots like this. Pregnancy photo shoots can be, and usually are, very beautiful. They are, however, only beautiful in a clean, sterile, intentional way. They are not what pregnancy actually looks like in real life. Real life, I might add, that is every bit as heart-stoppingly gorgeous as a late-afternoon stroll through the fall foliage.

Pregnancy is exhausting and uncomfortable and can make any woman feel far from attractive. It’s an addition to every day life that’s as inconvenient as it is magical; even the easiest of tasks can seem daunting and small moments we take for granted become monumental.

And it’s never been more apparent than when you look at photographer Kayla Maltese pregnancy pictures, which capture her journey through her second pregnancy. There are no carefully crafted poses. You won’t see framed smiles or unnatural postures. Instead, Kayla highlights the simple, realistic and subtle beauty of a mother growing another human life while she goes about her day-to-day routine.

As a professional photographer, Kayla usually finds herself behind the camera, capturing someone else’s journey to motherhood. Thankfully, she has decided her story is worthy of documentation and, well, the result is a decidedly lovely, strong reminder that the real elegance of pregnancy lies in the small, often over-looked and far from impeccable moments.

The world doesn't stop and the responsibilities don't cease, when you're pregnant. So, honestly, the beauty of pregnancy can be found in a woman's ability to continue to fulfill her daily obligations, despite the fact that she's constipated, nauseous, aching and completely drained.

Kayla told BabyCenter, “I made it my goal to get in the frame once a week. I wanted to remember what I was doing and feeling through each stage of pregnancy.” And boy are we glad. What's left is a timeline of pregnancy without the romanticized pictures we've all come to expect.

Because sitting through a photograph session is easy...

But continuing to care for your son, or staying committed to your work out routine, or making dinner for your family, all while you simultaneously growing another human life inside of you, is what's truly gorgeous about pregnancy and every woman's individual journey into motherhood.

Images: Courtesy of Kayla Maltese(8)