PARENTS

Baby Weight Bullies

30/09/2014 17:04 | Updated 20 May 2015

Pregnant women with notepaper on her belly

"You've got a big one in there," an acquaintance said, nodding at my baby belly.

I was just 16 weeks pregnant. And yes, I was showing.

I didn't have a problem with my little bump, in fact I quite liked it. But we both knew what she was saying - not that my baby was big, but that I was.

"I tend to show early," I smiled through gritted teeth.

Now, months on, I wish I'd said more. Like that I had friends who were struggling to conceive so I felt lucky to be pregnant at all, that my baby and I were perfectly healthy...

And that she could stop judging my bump and look me in the eye next time, thanks very much.

Because, my weight, whether I'm pregnant or not, is none of her business.

According to a recent study, it takes an average of – gasp - 19 months to lose your baby weight.

Yet 40 per cent of new mums say slim celeb mums make them want to lose weight, and fast. Worse, 18 per cent feel pressure from their own mothers to drop the pounds.

Frankly, I think it's time to fight back against this belief that you're doing something wrong if you have a bit of a belly after giving birth.

And especially against those who feel they have a right to comment on it.

At 31 weeks pregnant with my second, I'm more beach ball than beach babe at the moment. And I'm perfectly happy with that.

I felt the same the first time around.When I had my now two-year-old son, it was his weight - which dropped as we struggled to establish breastfeeding - that I worried about.

Who cared how big my thighs were? Looking at his once plump little legs grow skinny made me burst into tears.

What really made me feel good about myself was getting his feeding sorted out and seeing his Buddha belly grow to match mine.

Of course, there were moments over the next months when I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. What new mum doesn't?

I'm sure even celeb mums try on everything in their pre-pregnancy wardrobe at some point, hoping to find something that fits.

So why should we have to cope with careless comments from others too? I'm not alone, either.

"About three months after having my daughter I was enjoying a solo shopping trip in M&S while my mum looked after the baby," says Sally, mum of two. "I bumped into an old colleague I hadn't seen for years. I said, 'I've had a baby since I last saw you.'

"His eyes dropped to my tummy area and he simply replied, 'I can see that.' I just gulped nervously and sloped off to the sock department."

New mum Tiffany agrees that those comments about your body stick with you.

"One woman I'd just met casually referred to the fact that I'm now pregnant again," says Tiffany, whose daughter is only seven months old. "I laughed it off and told her it was just baby weight! She looked pretty mortified but it made me put even more pressure on myself to lose weight."

A quick search on pregnancy forums shows that weight loss is a massive topic among mums with young babies, with some weighing themselves immediately after giving birth and others feeling so impatient about dropping the pounds they resort to drastic measures.

Pregnancy puts your body through a wild amount of weird and wonderful changes. Expecting it to change again so quickly can simply be too much to ask.

After my first pregnancy my priority was eating well enough so that I could breastfeed and have the energy to look after my son properly.

And there was nothing that anybody could say to change that. Because the fact is, you'll never please everyone. Even once I slimmed down it was still open season on my body confidence.

"I thought you'd never lose all that weight," someone said shortly afterwards.

Charming. I was so flummoxed I actually walked out of the room.

Yes, the weight did come off in time. And yes, I'm gaining weight again now I'm pregnant again.

I'd be worried if I wasn't.

So that's what I'm going to tell the next baby weight bully who dares to look quizzically at my bump or bum.

That it's normal, healthy even, to gain weight in pregnancy. And I don't care what anyone else thinks.

Who knows what I'll look like once I've given birth? I'll be too busy gazing at my gorgeous new baby to bother staring at my doughy bits in a mirror.

One thing is for sure. If I do slim down, it will be because I want to. Not because somebody was too concerned with judging the size of my stomach to look me in the eye.

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