Over the past three weeks of pregnancy I’ve had a definite growth spurt, one which has tested my sense of humour and my self-esteem. Never mind my body, this has been a mental challenge.
When it comes to body confidence I’ve always been relatively laid back. I’m not super confident by any means but I think I have it in control. I am a ‘live to eat’ kind of person and it’s my number one way to socialise, I just don’t want to give up food I love for the sake of being an inch smaller round the waist. As boring as it sounds, it is all about moderation and I have it in hand.
However never before have I come into contact with so many people who have all thought it was ok to tell me I am ‘massive’. Which even for the most body confident female, can be testing.
The first time I came across comments on my pregnant body was at 12 weeks. I was meeting a work contact from Australia when I told her I was pregnant and she was quick to ask me how much weight I’ve gained and seem shocked at how big my bump was (I swear, there was nothing there). I soon dismissed her as talking out of her arse when she went on to give me her ‘best bit of advice’ which is to only eat M&Ms in the three days leading up to my due date in case eating actual food leads to an ‘accident’ on the delivery bed and my husband can’t unseen what he’s seen. I kid you not. But still, I was shocked that my weight and appearance was such a focus from a relative stranger at such an early stage.
The past couple of weeks I have gained a bump, which I love because it’s my baby’s home and is keeping him or her safe. I’ve also gained a little all over, despite not really eating any more now than I did pre-preggo (definitely not eating for two) but I can see it in photos and when I look in the mirror. I’ve changed, and I’m not exactly loving it all but it is what it is and as long as I’m keeping it under control and am keeping myself and baby healthy, then so be it.
But I every person I’ve come across recently – friend, family, acquaintance or stranger – has offered their opinion on how I look. From telling me I look like I’m about to drop (and then their horrified face when I tell them I have 3 months to go), to being described as massive, blooming, huge or ‘a big girl’, I’ve heard it all, and the funny thing is that I’m really not that big at all.
I’m well aware that the majority of these comments come from a good place (based on the fact that I’ve probably said something along these lines to friends before now and it definitely would have been meant with nothing but love and admiration) and in some cases are slightly thoughtless interactions from strangers who don’t quite know how else to interact with a pregnant person. But when your confidence is already ever so slightly off its game from the changes happening to your body, all of these individual, albeit well-meant, comments can chip away at that confidence even more.
I’m pretty good at laughing it off, and I genuinely do see it as being something to smile about because there’s a very good reason for it, but even words like ‘blooming’ might well be meant in reference to my bump alone but in my mind, my whole body is blooming (i.e. getting fatter) and it feels like it’s becoming obvious and note-worthy to the whole world. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care at all what people think, but ultimately I know I’ve looked better and when you know you look good, you feel good. And while I’m in the mind set where I can laugh comments off and see the positive intention, I can’t even imagine how it feels for those women who don’t have the best body confidence to begin with. It’s a test of self-esteem there’s no doubt about it.
Funnily enough, I got my biggest ego boost recently on social media – the one place we normally feel worse about ourselves thanks to unrealistic and often totally fake images. I definitely didn’t go looking for an ego boost and was pleasantly surprised at the amount of lovely comments I got on the first picture I’ve posted to Facebook of myself since becoming pregnant. Yes, people may well have just been saying what they thought they should, but they could have said nothing at all, so I decided to take out of it nothing but the positive.
So, if you see me in the next three months and I’m still clearly pregnant, please just lie and tell me I look amazing or that I’m glowing and pregnancy really suits me. It’s what I need right now and I promise I’ll return the lie favour when you need it most.