Let me start off by writing, I’m not currently pregnant but I clearly remember the pressures I felt when I was (both times) by myself, the media, everyone around me with an opinion as I seemed to become public property (irrespective of this blog) with daily editorial judgements from usually Joe Bloggs off the street, ranging from, “You don’t look pregnant” to “You’re about to pop” and even “is it twins?”
I get it, pregnancy is interesting, bumps are captivating, wonderful, magical even but it doesn’t make it any easier when you feel your stomach is the source of constant, mostly unsolicited, unwanted attention.
I’ve blogged a lot over the years about pregnancy pressures and how women/mothers are burdened with so much at such pivotal times in their lives: and too often when pregnant and once babies arrive. Frustratingly, often the minute you have the baby too (thanks Kate Middleton for normalising that) looking glowing and NORMAL post birth.
The pressures remain whatever though…big bumps, small bumps, to breastfeed, not to breastfeed, how to raise kids, to work, not to work…mostly fuelled by a misogynistic, anti-feminist Daily ‘Fail’ agenda/ how to make women feel bad and buy magazines making them feel bad or better by making others feel bad.
Ladies (and gents) we need to fight against this and it starts with us. It begins with the words we choose to describe ourselves, the discourse surrounding pregnancy (and our bodies pregnant or otherwise) and we have to make a stand.
Only this week, two women I know who are pregnant have described themselves to me as being fat. Really? However flippant or funny they think they are being, it breeds negativity, most of all to themselves.
They both looked beautiful and blooming and seeing them made me feel broody but with words bandied around by the media and then ourselves comparing pregnant women to whales (yuck) and damaging adjectives like ‘ballooning’ who can blame this distorted notion and lack of differentiation between pregnancy and being heavily overweight.
There were times I too felt the same when pregnant and I realise now on reflection it was wrong of me…
I’ve been pregnant twice now, my youngest is nearly 17 months old, my eldest just 4.
My first pregnancy took a while to show. Nearly 6 months. A long 6 months. I was disappointed, frustrated, desperate to have a pronounced bump as soon as the test showed positive.
Perhaps 200 sit ups a day pre-pregnancy (never pregnant) might have contributed. Others say it was down to being a boy (not sure about that). I bought wrap-around maternity tops to try and create the bump I wanted (quickly), anxious for a pregnant sihouette.
When it eventually ‘popped’ out, I was overjoyed (not that anyone gave me a seat on the tube but that’s a whole other post) and yes towards the end, it felt uncomfortable and heavy and at my biggest, took some getting used to.
We are only human, pregnancy is a BIG change (literally and emotionally) and that’s OK but contesting the natural fact that most of us become much larger to create a human being makes me SAD.
We still compare ourselves to an ideal (not an accurate ideal’ but a Westernised one) that small is best body-wise, even when pregnant.
Women who look glowing, curvaceous, flipping WITH CHILD are bullied by the media (Kim Kardashian anyone?), rather than celebrated. The baby weight loss Olympics sells copy and it’s pretty disgusting.
Yes some women are obese when pregnant and this can pose a real threat to mother and baby but HEALTHILY pregnant ladies (and professionals say this can vary between 2-4 stones of weight gain) and guess what, most women, however slim before, put on weight when pregnant.
I mean shock, horror you’re actually meant to look much bigger when growing another person so the sooner this is accepted and pregnancy becomes NATURALISED, the better. Achieving this, means you and I have a part to play-from NOW.
(I must note, women who naturally have small bumps throughout, mustn’t be made to feel inadequate either! We are all unique and that’s what makes us so damn special.)
…My Mum tells me, that when pregnant with my brother and I in the 80’s, she never felt these body image pressures, that women’s forms were celebrated more in life generally and in pregnancy…
If only the same could be said now.
…And yes it often feels rubbish being pregnant and confidence is lost but I wonder if it would feel quite as bad if we all just stopped and started to support, celebrate and become more positive about pregnancy on the whole.
Making a baby is AMAZING, it’s a blessing, not possible for all and I tell you what, I know from experience, it can take time, a whole lot of time to lose baby weight but that’s OK, that’s life for many of us and part of having children.
The experience of pregnancy, growing, nurturing, keeping that baby safe, having that bump (however big or small) is one of life’s wonders and as soon as that baby’s out, you might just miss it-so maybe remember that next time you think you’re fat when actually you’re just pregnant.