Body confidence, for me, has always been an evolving process. There have been the highs - for example in my teenage years when I used to stumble down the cobbled Winchester High Street in tight jeans and no more than Topshop's equivalent of a loincloth holding up my then forward facing nipples. And of course the lows - including the time when a woman hollered across the street at me in San Diego that my cellulite was way too terrible for shorts (true story).
But in much the same way as childbirth and parenting in general, nothing can quite prepare you for the way your body changes after birth. For me, there was no springing back of either my tummy or my boobs, and my back and hips always remained that bit wider as a result. In fact, after breastfeeding two children and birthing one the size of a small calf, it's fair to say butt, boobs and belly have remained decidedly stretch marked and saggy.
However, despite these dramatic changes in my appearance, and the fact my spread has more reach than a pot of Philly on a sweltering summer's day, it didn't prevent me from daydreaming about being a 'thin' pregnant person when trying for baby number three. You know, the kind of fantasy where I body swap with Gisele and grow a manageable, 'cute' sized bump whilst retaining a pert butt and no bingo wings. I could make this a totally manageable reality with a bit of exercise and clean living (with a cheeky side order of chips), right? Wrong.
You would think being a 34 year old grown woman and mother of two (nearly three), I would be sensible enough to know that becoming pregnant generally tends to make you larger, not smaller. But whether it was worry about what other people thought of me, my own deep rooted anxieties, or just a genuine desire to not always be the pregnant woman who appears to (and actually has) eaten all the cake, I wanted this pregnancy to be different.
So you can imagine my irrational hormonal horror when well meaning friends and out right strangers standing beside me in the butchers started approaching me to tell me how huge my bump was, or how ginormous I had become, even at the early gestational period of 12 weeks - when most pregnant people are barely bulging out of their boyfriend jeans. Of course I knew rationally, that these people meant no harm, and that they were most likely marveling at the beauty of my bump rather than the size of my butt (which has been growing in tandem). But, to be frank, there is something about how women's bodies suddenly become fair game in pregnancy that, rightly or wrongly, really gets my goat. I mean most people are diplomatic enough not to comment on a woman's (or man's) size, so why is this sensitivity suddenly abandoned when talking to pregnant women? Why, when a woman may already be internally struggling with the change of her shape, should it be acceptable for this tact to be replaced by corkers such as, "I hope you've had a big lunch, otherwise that baby is massive!" Not only making you feel like the porker who ate all the pies, but potentially evoking anxious thoughts on the health of your baby as well.
The truth is, it actually took an Instagram post written in exasperation (and fuelled by never ending morning sickness) for the comments to eventually die down. And as for now, although I occasionally hear, "you've got how long to go?" in relation to my big bump, I can smile it off without a care. Much like Queen Elsa, I've learnt to let it go. Not just metaphorically, but also physically. My old size 12 pants are on hiatus and my new size 14 ones are already feeling a tad tight, but despite this I feel confident in my overly stretched skin. At a time when I can no longer indulge in wine, I refuse to abstain from my love of good food. And with the help of a good eyebrow tint and a splash of Shellac, my spirits have been lifted, leaving me in the most part feeling healthy, happy and incredibly lucky to be on this path with my third baby - despite the usual pregnancy aches and pains. Just don't get me started on my pelvic floor....
HuffPost UK Parents has launched 'Mumbod', a new section to empower mums and mums-to-be to feel confident about their bodies pre- and post-baby. We'd also love to hear your stories. To blog for Mumbod, email email@example.com. To keep up to date with features, blogs and videos on the topic, follow the hashtag #MyMumbod.Suggest a correction