I like big bumps and I cannot lie… Is it a big bump, I don’t even know? All I do know is that EVERYONE seems to have an opinion. We’ve all been guilty of it, haven’t we? Seeing a pregnant friend/co-worker/neighbour and telling them “oh look at your bump! It’s so diddy/compact/big/high up/low down..” (the list goes on.) But why does it matter? Why have we been conditioned to think like this? There’s enough scientific evidence out there to prove that the size of the bump doesn’t necessarily indicate the size of the baby and does anyone have any control over the size of their bump anyway? Absolutely not!
I spent the whole 39 weeks of Saskia’s pregnancy worrying that I was going to get a big bump and, whilst determined not tho think like that this time around, I haven’t been particularly successful. It actually WORRIES me when friends/relatives tell me that my bump is looking so big, despite being told by my midwife that it’s measuring exactly as it should me. I’ve been trying to train myself not to worry about what other people say, to embrace the bump no matter what the size and ignore all the comments but it’s proving hard to do and then, the other day, as I was scrolling through Pinterest, it occurred to me exactly WHY.
Whilst looking for maternity photo shoot inspiration, up on my feed pops an article “How to have a bump only pregnancy”. I’ve seen things like this before and never clicked on them (they’re a load of crap anyway, probably written by some woman or man who’s never had children) but in my moment of vulnerability, I took the bait. Clearly looking for another way to beat myself up about what I’d “done wrong” in this pregnancy to end up with such a “big bump” (?!?! MADNESS) I won’t go into too much detail about the post itself but it was along the lines of “pregnancy is the perfect time to lose weight because your body is using extra energy to create the baby and therefore, by following this completely legitimate diet plan of three micro-meals a day, your body post-baby will be looking better than it ever was before”. Of course, the post was glittered with the exact sort of photos you can imagine – before and afters of women who, quite frankly, looked amazing. At the time, it actually made me feel guilty! But now it just makes me angry. How dare someone be allowed to publish such utter rubbish?! To shame women into thinking that, when they’re growing another human inside of them, they should also be depriving their bodies of the full amount of nutrients they need. To insinuate that being pregnant is a great excuse to lose weight and if you’re not taking full advantage of this “opportunity” then you’re missing out. I can’t articulate it properly. I think it’s disgusting.
I’m definitely not saying that being pregnant is an excuse to indulge. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that we don’t actually need to eat a huge amount more than we were before pregnancy but bloody hell, pregnancy is hard enough without having the added guilt of being subconsciously told we need to lose weight and made to feel guilty if we put on a few lbs. Actually! We need to put on those lbs. Our bodies actively store fat more readily when pregnant to prepare for the demands of feeding a baby. It’s not shameful or something that should be avoided, it’s important! And what even is a “bump only pregnancy”?! Surely, we can’t expect our bodies to not change one bit other than growing a bump?
I don’t know if these posts make me so angry because they’re reinforcing ideas that my mind is already feeding me. Years and years of battles with eating disorders make pregnancy very hard for me but then that’s what worries me. I’m not the only person who’s had a horrific adolescence fighting these thoughts, who’s put so much of themselves into recovery and who, at times, still feels very vulnerable and I don’t for one second believe that only people with a past such as mine would be affected, even subconsciously, by seeing these headlines time and time again. Our minds are like precious little sponges and sometimes ideas are absorbed without us even noticing. Ideas that we’re not doing our pregnancy “properly” if we’re not trying to avoid any changes to our body. Ideas that reinforce the fact that we should fight against our bodies at every step of the way. I, for one, am so tired of it.
Look after your body – yes!
Look after your mind – even more so!
But please, please do not allow yourself to feel guilty for the way your body is changing. Pregnancy is not a challenge to be completed, scoring the highest number of points if you put on the least amount of weight. Everybody’s bodies act differently. Perhaps one of the hardest things about adjusting to the stages of pregnancy IS about the fact that we’re so far from in control of our bodies and even we don’t know how our bodies will grow and change but it is so important not to compare. It’s so important to try your hardest to just love what your body is doing because, at the end of the day, it’s such a short period in your life and it really is a blessing. I’ll always say it, the best way to feel happy and confident in your own skin is not to focus on how you look but to focus on how you feel. Nourish your body, care for your body, make sustainable lifestyle choices and you’ll notice so quickly how much better you feel. But feed your mind with guilt and hate and it’s just a downwards spiral.
We should be celebrating the fact that our bodies are able to cope with the changes and pressures that pregnancy put on them (how amazing?!) and more importantly, we should be kind to ourselves. Pregnancy is hard. Motherhood is hard. But both are incredible experiences if you allow yourself the time and space to adapt and remember that life is fluid, it’s constantly moving and changing and nothing lasts forever.
I never intended to write this post, it wasn’t planned, and in some ways it’s turned more into a letter to myself than a blog post. I’m sure it won’t resonate with everyone but I’m equally sure that I’m not the only person who feels like this and who’s battled with these thoughts throughout their pregnancy. If you felt/feel like this or even if it just resonated with you in some tiny way, please leave a comment or send me a direct message on Instagram. Social media has given us a great opportunity to support one another and create a community where we’re free to speak about how we feel and find other people who feel the same and that’s exactly why I love these platforms so much.
Love, Anna x