Dealing with commentary about your pregnant body
I didn’t see this coming, but one of the hardest things about this pregnancy (my first) has been dealing with people’s comments about my body. I know I’m not alone in this – it’s a problem experienced by many an expectant mother.
I know most people come from a good place when they make comments about the size and shape of a pregnant woman’s body. But here’s the thing: a lot of us aren’t just sporting a growing bump out the front – we’re growing a bump out the back too – along with expanding thighs, feet, calves, hands and even face. When you comment on our size, it’s rarely just an observation about the cute bump out the front. We know we’re bigger, and we don’t need reminding.
Most women are self-conscious about their body shapes at the best of times – throw in a pregnancy and this self-consciousness is amplified. Now 36 weeks pregnant, I’ve actually come to love and respect my pregnant body, but I haven’t felt this way the whole time. It’s a shock to the system when your belly starts growing, especially when you’re in that awkward in-between stage where you look like you’ve just over-indulged, rather than it being obvious you’re expecting.
Throughout the second trimester and a good part of the third, I found it difficult to adjust to my growing bump after each growth spurt. After a few days I’d get used to my new rounder shape, and happily carry on. At the beginning it was a difficult adjustment seeing my clothes filled out Tweedledee style – I did feel fat and frumpy and almost like I didn’t own my body anymore.
So you see, our bodily changes are already well and truly at the forefront of our minds, and some days we might not be coping very well.
Unfortunately, others’ comments about your pregnant body have a way of coming at the worst times. It may just be a comment about how big your bump is (“So big already!”); you may be told you’re carrying all over (so you’re saying I have a giant butt?), or you may be asked if you’re having twins. People also like to speculate that you’re going to have a “ten-pounder”. The “whale” comparison gets thrown around a bit (way to lift a girl’s spirit) and the older generations seem to delight in making comparisons between your pregnant body and their pregnant body: (“I carried small, so you’re probably more uncomfortable than I was!”.).
I’ve been on the receiving end of most of these comments myself all through the pregnancy and yes, they upset me many times. You’re already dealing with this weird new body, and just when you start to feel quite proud of your pregnant self, someone can make you feel extremely self-conscious with a poorly thought-out comment.
But to return to my sentiment at the beginning of this post – I don’t believe there is malice behind these comments (though there are always exceptions, unfortunately). People say awkward things and they talk as though your bump is public property – rather than part of you. Though in most cases they don’t mean any harm, there’s still a couple of messages I’d like to impart through this post. First of all, if you’re thinking of commenting on a pregnant woman’s body – either tell her she’s looking great, or don’t say anything at all.
And if you’re pregnant, like me? Well, feel free to cry if you need to let off steam – but don’t take it to heart. Your body is doing a miraculous job of growing your baby, and it’s coping the best way it can. Sometimes that might mean your butt doubles in size; genetics play a big part in how you carry, and there’s not a lot you can do about that! The most important thing is that you look after yourself and your baby. Love and praise your body for how amazing it is – the rest is just noise.