I have been toying with writing this for some months now and I didn't want to write it as just a rant, so I have had to wait a while. I think this issue is important to state though, and also I hope that this reaches other pregnant women experiencing the same irritations as me.
Today's comments aimed at my 33 week bump have included 'wow you nearly knocked my coffee out of my hand', now come on please, 'wow that's a big one', 'rather you than me lugging that around' and 'can I move you to one side'. I did laugh to myself in-between feeling immense irritation. I wasn't sure if I was going to hurl my cup of decaffeinated coffee in the direction of one unfortunate gent at one point. The last 6 months have included an onslaught of opinions and comments on my ever increasing, healthy, baby bump. I am pretty sure that not a day goes by without some comments.
I know, I know, some of these are in jest and to have some fun with me, but it's just too much, TOO MUCH. Some people stare in amazement 'wow, that's really grown', what can I do with that, what do I say? My instant reaction is to want to make a cheeky comment back, but thus far I have buttoned it! To be honest thank goodness 'IT' has grown! Um and 'IT' is a baby. Also sometimes I wonder if people forget how actually large your bump needs to grow to hold a full size average 8lb baby?
Remember a pregnant woman is experiencing huge changes to her physical appearance, hormones and life in general. This is really not the best time to make comments about her physical appearance, not unless you want to fear for your life : ). Pregnant women are making life, and believe me it takes a lot of physical and mental energy.
Sorry but this is about to get a bit serious, but a few stern points need to be made here. Silviera et al (2015) states that body image appears to play an important role in maternal depression. As a community we need to support women to feel good about the physical changes they are experiencing, and to celebrate their bodies being able to house a baby! A recent report produced by Gov.uk talks about supporting women to focus on the joys of being a mother and NOT losing weight as a top priority. The report also talks about how developing a preoccupation with body image can be very destructive and passed down to our children too. There is relentless pressure to look good, be slim and to be honest goodness knows what people expect pregnant women to do, you have very little control over how far your baby bump sticks out!
Women feel far too much pressure to lose weight quickly after pregnancy and this is actually a time to enjoy a new baby and rejoice in a new adventure. Receiving comments on a daily basis about physical appearance is quite possibly feeding the need to be slim quickly after birth. A heavy focus on body image can exacerbate the likelihood of anxiety and distress and even depression, which isn't good for mother or child.
Please think before you start commenting on a pregnant woman's appearance. I know you most probably mean well and are being friendly but it doesn't always feel too good. It is not common place or kind to go up to someone and comment on their weight, general appearance or taste in clothing. For some, it may be water off a duck's back, but for many it's really quite upsetting! Come on people, look after and celebrate the pregnant ladies who you know, they are working hard and bringing new life into the world. They may have had a rough ride getting to this point, actually being pregnant, show your support and encouragement. This is a time to empower women and support them to feel strong and proud of themselves.
Everyone will be so cautious if I have a cuppa in my hand from now on : )