Sports Illustrated model proudly shows off C-section scar in 2022 Swimsuit Issue

Sports Illustrated: close up for c-section scar
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue champions women with caesarean section scars. (Getty Images)

A Sports Illustrated model is the first to expose a caesarean section scar in the Swimsuit Issue, according to the magazine.

Kelly Hughes, 42, pulled her bikini bottoms down slightly to proudly reveal her caesarean scar above her pelvic bone for a spread in SI Swimsuit 2022.

The shoot, done in collaboration with pregnancy and postpartum brand Frida Mom, intends to "shift the mainstream cultural narratives associated with women's bodies".

Read more: Lila Moss walks Met Gala red carpet with insulin pump and monitor

"We are proud to partner with @fridamom to celebrate all moms who bare C-Section scars by featuring @kellyhues in #SISwim22 – the FIRST woman to expose her C-Section scar in magazine's history!," si_swimsuit's Instagram caption reads.

"@fridamom joined out #PayWithChange initiative to positively shift mainstream cultural narratives associated with women's bodies – especially when becoming a mom."

The magazine called on its 2.1 million followers on Instagram to "give some love to all our moms out there to acknowledge the power of the female body and the beauty of motherhood!"

SI Swimsuit pointed out on its website that despite how common the procedure is, mums can be left with an "emotional scar" of disappointment and shame because of feeling as if they should have given birth vaginally, being stripped of choice, and the misconception it is 'the easy way out', leaving mothers physically and mentally unprepared for the operation.

Read more: Zara Tindall's baby was almost Born Before Arrival (BBA) - what does that mean and how common is it?

Crediting the image to photographer Fumie Hoppe, Hughes herself, who delivered her now three-year-old son via cesarean also shared it to her page. She said was "speechless and so honored to be in @si_swimsuit 2022 as the FIRST woman to expose her c-section scar in magazines history!"

"I struggled with insecurities from my scar being that I'm a model and my incredibly difficult recovery but it wasn't until I embraced my scar that I experienced the true power in it," she added.

Fellow Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Hunter McGrady commented, "ICONIC!!! while fans showed their support with "Congratulations! This is amazing!!" and "Thank you for highlighting and embracing every bit of your amazing life vessel of a body. Beautifully done!!!!"

Read more: What is a gentle caesarean? The more birth-like method of delivering your baby surgically

On her Instagram stories, Hughes also said, "It means so much to me, because my c-section... it was a very intense birth story so I held a lot of pain and insecurities with my scar.

"So to show it and speak out to women to embrace their bodies and to symbolise and be proud of what you look like in every way possible, normalising the changes a woman goes through especially after giving birth [means a lot to her]

"We all have insecurities that we would maybe change but when it comes to birthing that scar means so much to me because it's my son.

"The most important thing I want to share is it truly wasn't until I embraced my scar that I experienced the power in it."

Read more: Actor, Rosie Ramsey, highlights the reality of c-sections

A caesarean section, or C-section, is an operation to deliver a baby through a cut made in the tummy and womb, with one in four pregnant women in the UK having this type of birth, according to the NHS.

The cut is usually made across the tummy, just below your bikini line, and is a major operation that carries a number of risks – only usually done if it's the safest option for both parent and baby.

They may be recommended as a planned (elective) procedure or done in an emergency if it's thought a vaginal birth is too risky – you can find out more on the NHS website.

Watch: Gwyneth Paltrow 'almost died' giving birth to daughter Apple