The Elephant in the Room – Body Image in Pregnancy
This is my third baby.
In my previous pregnancies, I was delighted to see the growing bump. I was over the moon to experience all the pregnancy symptoms including swollen ankles, weight gain etc. I embraced it all. I wasn’t self-conscious in shorts or vest tops. I knew I was heavier and wobblier in places, but I was happy that it was part and parcel of pregnancy and I’d soon be back in shape once baby arrived – and I was in no hurry.
This time, I’m really struggling.
I’ve always been physically fit and healthy, maintained a size 10-12 figure and worked at being in shape. I kept up exercise classes in my first 2 pregnancies until 38 weeks.
Before I fell pregnant this time, I was back to my pre-baby size. I was confident in swimwear. I didn’t really give much thought to my size and shape in general except that I wanted to continue to be strong and fit.
Then, along came the first trimester of pregnancy number 3, with all it’s weird nausea and cravings and exhaustion and absolutely no resolve to observe any kind of diet – healthy or otherwise.
I found that I didn’t feel like eating most of the time and when I did, all I wanted was junk, sugary snacks and carbs! I had even less interest in exercise and although I still kept up with my Body Pump classes, I was only making 1 session a week, then 1 session a fortnight. I was so exhausted. And the more I missed, the harder it got when I did go.
Fortunately, I am approaching the end of the second trimester and the past few weeks have been much easier. But the damage is already done and I am out of shape and acutely aware of this. I feel heavy and unfit. On top of that, my bump is way bigger than in my previous pregnancies. I’m told this is a ‘third baby thing’ and all my measurements are fine for the gestational week so nothing to worry about. But I feel like a blob.
This is all hard enough to cope with, when you’re hormonal and an emotional wreck… but now I’m finding that people are commenting on it and I hate it!
Why do people feel that it’s ok to comment on your weight/size/shape when you are pregnant? And not just strangers, but close friends and family members too, who surely know that this would hurt my feelings.
Have I lost my sense of humour in the jumble of hormones and anxiety? Or is this unacceptable?
Why does it bother me? And what is an appropriate response? Am I being unreasonable? Or are they? – with their observations that ‘I must be nearly due’ and ‘my arse is as big as my bump’ (yes, really!).
At this point, I’m worried about what the final trimester holds and exactly how big I’m likely to get. This is a particular concern since I’ll be reaching my due date in the height of summer – when I imagine all I will want to wear will be bra and pants!!! Perhaps a Muumuu is the way to go!?
Is it just me or is there this assumption that pregnant women don’t have ‘body image issues’ because we’ve chosen this weight gain and all that comes with it. I don’t think the non-pregnant community realise how emotionally challenging this can be. It is, quite literally the elephant in the room (!).
© Rebecca Sherry
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