PARENTS

Why Are We So Fixated On Baby Bump Size?

14/08/2014 16:49 | Updated 22 May 2015

Why are we so fixated with baby bump size?

As soon as it was announced that Kate Middleton was pregnant, I knew there would be constant commentary on the size of her bump. And that it would be small.

She has the tall, slim-but-with-natural-curves physique that I now know from witnessing dozens of friends' pregnancies means you're not even likely to show for six months. I, on the other hand, am relatively short with an apple-shaped figure. I showed within weeks of being pregnant and endured constant loud observations about how 'huge' I was.

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What really amazed me was everyone's need to make some sort of comment. The rare few who didn't say I was enormous said I was 'neat' or 'small' – it was as though they just had to say something.

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Back when my mum was expecting, they all hid behind billowing floral numbers. Waistlines were let out and forgotten about. Princess Diana wore dresses with sailor collars and bows to 'detract from the bump'.

Then in the '90s All Saints started showing off their pregnant bare mid-drifts and it was refreshing – the most beautiful thing in the world. But it's the age old problem for women. You put it out there, for all to see and celebrate, and before long it's being analysed - and criticised.

For some women, this fixation with the size and shape of pregnant bumps can be distressing. Mum-of-two Sarah became depressed during her pregnancy with her first child, Isaac. "People say things like 'God you're massive aren't you?' and you'd never say that to someone who wasn't pregnant," she said.

"Even though it's part of pregnancy it cuts quite deep when people say things like that. I remember when I was feeling really rubbish and down, someone greeting me with the words 'morning fatty'. She didn't realise but it made me cry. People don't think about things like that."

Why are we so fixated with baby bump size?Kate around six months pregnant. Pic:

An even more upsetting incident happened at a christening when she was around five months pregnant. "Another guest, who was an ultrasonographer, said 'that bump is massive, there's something wrong there'."

Naturally, this made her anxious, and Sarah made an appointment with her GP on the back of the woman's comments. "The doctor was lovely and said I was allowed to hit anyone who said anything upsetting to me and then send them to him for treatment. He said there was no problem and reassured me that everything was fine."

Isaac was born weighing 9lb 1oz. "It was a big bump, I carried big," said Sarah.

She added: "I was properly depressed and I wanted to talk to people about it but I was afraid I would cry. You can't explain to someone and say 'everybody's calling me fat' because they will think well you're pregnant what do you expect?"

"There's also the speculation that your baby's going to be massive and that it will be a really traumatic birth, which is all really scary anyway. I don't think I was ever able to feel proud about showing off my bump for the entire pregnancy because I was so wary of what people would say."

Professional advisor in education for the Royal College of Midwives, Gail Johnson, believes there is a problem with how people react to pregnant women.

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Pregnancy seems for some people to make women public property - they feel they can make comments. They need to think how that pregnant person might feel, if they don't know them they could cause them embarrassment or anxiety, or if there is something wrong they could be highlighting that.

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She said all bumps are different and there are many factors influencing their shape and size. "It's all about the fact that everybody's an individual. If you're tall with a nice long body then the bump might sit lower down and not stick out so much. If you're shorter the baby is going to be squashed in, so it isn't just an issue of size.

"It also depends what position the foetus is in, and if the stomach muscles are quite tight. If the woman's had babies before then the stomach muscles might not be as tight so the bump would stick out more. Other factors like the amount of fluid the baby is in will affect it too. That's what makes people exciting and different."

She added: "I think there needs to be an effort to be nicer to people."

Indeed. And while I envied the Duchess of Cambridge's elegant pregnancy, I would not relish the scale of very public scrutiny it received. In just one week we were asked "Why is Kate's bump so tiny?" and then told that it: "Seems to have grown overnight!"

A perfectly healthy developing pregnancy then? One couldn't possibly comment...

Did you get comments about your bump size and pregnancy weight? Let us know.

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