Body image & Bump.

‘My god, you’re just going to explode like you did last time….’

‘Baby looks ready to pop out any day now!’

Just two of the many comments I’ve had said to me recently….

Now, I’m under no illusion I’m the only pregnant woman to receive comments on their size…. In fact, I know its almost some kind of ‘right of passage’ of having a bump, to have comments regularly thrown at you regarding your size.
But WHY should it be?!
Not only is it one of the most vulnerable phases of life for the majority of women, in more ways than one; but for those who already struggled with body image and self confidence, it may be enough to topple them into developing further issues or anxieties relating to something they should NOT be worrying about at.

Weight gain in pregnancy has been something I’ve struggled with this time around. Although not something I’m proud to admit, nor will I ever shout about it, I think it’s important to speak about as I know I won’t be the only one.
Before my pregnancies, I loved going to the gym and would take care over what I ate/avoided. Coming out of university, I’d put on a good bit of weight (thanks to nightly drinks and carb-tastic meals) and although not aware of it at the time, it was only as I started getting fitter that I realised how much I’d actually let myself gain and vowed not to let myself get to that stage again without realising. Of course, being small in height (5ft 1 and a half) is a bit of a disadvantage – I literally put on half a stone and three extra chins rear their ugly head. But with pregnancy, I always imagined myself to be a bit different. I knew what to expect and knew not to let the fact I was going to put on a good few pounds (and the rest….) get me down. Yet, when the time actually came to it, it was pretty difficult to watch as I ballooned from a petite size 8 to a just about ‘squeezable-in’ size 12 during my 35week pregnancy. What didn’t help matters was the fact I grew a bump very early on considering it was my first pregnancy; whether it was down to the fact I was so small to begin with, so more noticeable to everyone, or maybe simply down to the fact I was eating for nearer 32 than just two, who knows. Either way, it meant fielding off bump comments from VERY early on. Even though I knew that pregnant women seemed to be a free-for-all in regards to their size, it still hurt/made me paranoid receiving the ‘you’re huge’ comments, time and time again.

So, I guess it’s came as a bit of a surprise to receive such a wide variety of comments this time round. Unlike with my first, I was late in developing a bump – in fact, I barely had one at 20weeks; and although comments like ‘wow, you’re tiny‘ and ‘I look more pregnant than you when I’m bloated’ are things that I longed to hear during my first pregnancy, turns out it wasnt as much of a compliment as I first imagined. It played on my mind and led to me (over)thinking that I was failing my baby by not putting on the recommended amount of weight or not looking the ‘right kind of size’ for the stage I was at….
It seemed that no matter what kind of comments I received, it created a negative reaction in my head.
Needless to say, my bump has since made a very welcome appearance, growing by the day it seems, and along with it, a barrage of the familiar comments….
‘You’re carrying all in the back this time,’
‘You look nearer 30-odd weeks’
Not to forget, the age-old, heard by almost every pregnant woman in the universe –
‘You sure there’s only one in there?!’

So why is it seen as socially acceptable to continually comment on a pregnant woman’s appearance, expecting them to take it in good humour despite how potentially hurtful it is?!
As a generation that’s obsessed with looks and body image, it’s becoming increasingly important to try and retain your normal standard of beauty/fashion sense/figure, despite the fact you’re growing a tiny human.
Whilst a lot of ‘celebrities’ and influences are doing their bit at showing the reality of pre-and postnatal bodies, it’s still very much the norm to see them flaunt their trim and toned bodies both during and immediately after pregnancy and seen as a goal to strive for, in which you gain the least amount of weight you can and trying to ensure you’re ‘all bump.’
Whilst attainable for the lucky few, it’s unfortunately not realistic for the majority and can’t help but make some of us women feel a bit crap because our faces have got rounder or our thighs have started rubbing together. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell yourself that everyone is different and we all grow at different rates etc, at the end of the day, with societal pressures being the way they are in regards to bump shaming, you’d have to be the strongest minded person on the planet for it not to get to you at least a couple of times.

I’ve always thought of myself as quite a confident person in terms of body image. Although I can’t quite admit to LOVING everything about myself, I was comfortable in the way I looked and assured that I did enough to keep myself healthy. So to admit that I’m struggling with the way I look right now, is difficult and makes me feel a bit sad. No woman should ever feel like they should look a certain way in pregnancy or focus on their weight gain whilst growing a human. As long as baby is growing well, you’re eating well most of the time, then who cares if you put on a bit more weight than you expected to?! Or that Mary Thompson from next door only put on 2lbs the whole pregnancy, whereas you put on 2lb in a day.
It is most definitely something I’m working on, and i hope that the days where I feel confident and love my bump, become more common.

As for the comments from others; a simple ‘wow, you look great’ or ‘you’re looking so healthy’ is often enough to make a very pregnant woman happy. No need to mention the weight gain as such, just as you would never comment on someone who wasn’t pregnants weight gain.

It’s just really not all that polite….

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