If a family member puts on a bit of weight, do you tell them they’re getting ‘REALLY big’? If a co-worker seems to be rounder in the face, would you call them ‘huge’? What about a complete stranger? Would you call them ‘massive’ to their face?
‘REALLY big’, ‘huge’ and ‘massive’ are just some of the things that pregnant women are called all too often. And we don’t like it.
We don’t like being called massive, huge or enormous. NO-ONE likes to be called massive, huge, or enormous, unless you’re a 4 year old going through a growth spurt. And even then, there are better and more kind ways of saying it.
Being blessed – and yes, it is a blessing, whether you’re religious or not – with a pregnancy and a healthy growing baby is an extremely special time. And for the woman, it can also be a very confusing, exhausting and emotional time.
Not every pregnant woman is glowing and not every pregnant woman feels amazing all of the time. In fact, some days we actually feel pretty lousy. Morning sickness aside, there are a tremendous amount of physical and emotional changes that occur to a woman’s body when pregnant, affecting how we feel every minute of the day, and night. Every week there are changes occurring, as the baby grows and as our bodies grow and change too.
Growing a healthy baby is an absolute miracle – you’ll especially be more aware of this if you’ve been trying for some time – but more than that, your body is working harder than it ever has before to support the growing fetus.
In fact, hormonal changes re-adjust the entire pregnant female’s body system. All of which are necessary to support a healthy and developing baby, and prepare our bodies for labor, and breastfeeding, including:
- Respiratory system changes – our respiratory rate rises to provide oxygen to the uterus, placenta and fetus
- Blood volume increases to the cardiovascular system – increased blood flow, heart rate, decreased blood pressure
- Increased levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones – growing breasts, sore nipples, breasts creating colostrum
- Increased hormones estrogen and progesterone also cause thyroid glands to increase
- Endocrine system produces oxytocin to prepare the body for labor, and prolactin to prepare the breasts for nursing
- The top of the uterus grows up near the rib cage
- The abdomen will move to the left or the right, to allow for the growing uterus
- Increased metabolic rate and hormones can cause a warmer body, or ‘hot flushes’
- The expanding uterus puts pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor muscles, resulting in frequent urination and even leaking urine
- Kidneys are working extra hard to support these changes
- Spinal re-alignment to help posture and to maintain balance with the changing weight
- Skin changes with the growing breasts and uterus, resulting in possible stretch marks to thighs, buttocks, breasts, stomach and abdomen.
- Pigmentation and spider veins can occur on the abdomen, breasts, face, and other parts of the body
- Hair texture changes – hair doesn’t fall out as the same volume so feels thicker
- Nails grow faster with the high levels of estrogen in the body
- Feet and ankles may swell due to extra fluid around the body
- Increased weight gain to support growing body, hard-working organs and developing placenta and fetus
These are just some of the enormous amount of changes to a woman’s body when pregnant! Isn’t that astounding? Isn’t that incredible?
ISN’T THE FEMALE BODY AMAZING!?
Yes. Truly amazing.
And exhausting! Raising tiny humans is exhausting but growing them can be even MORE exhausting.
And nobody ever tells you this, but when we are pregnant we worry about every single thing! Is the shower too hot? Am I supposed to eat that? Can I climb up there? Can I reach that? Can I fit through there? What is good for the baby? What is good for me? Worry worry worry… all the time! And it never stops! Don’t add to a woman’s worry or anxiety by telling her she’s big, or small. Or massive.
Every person is different. Every woman is different, therefore, every PREGNANT woman is different. Depending on your weight, your height, your build, your genes, your race, your surroundings… all these things affect a pregnancy. Just as they affect how we all look different to one another. So, just as no two people are the same, no two pregnancies are the same. Every one of them will be different. Every one will feel different. Every one will look different.
I’ve had three babies, and five pregnancies (two ended in miscarriage) and EVERY TIME I felt different during pregnancy. Every time. Same me, same father. Every time I was a different shape, felt different to the last time and experienced my pregnancy differently. They are all unique.
These gorgeous pregnant mamas are all 32 weeks pregnant, like me. All different sizes, shapes, and carrying differently. All unique. Just as we as human beings are unique.
Don’t expect people to look the same, and don’t mention that their don’t look the same.
– Tell a pregnant woman she is huge, enormous, getting big or massive
– Tell a pregnant woman she is too small, really tiny, or very skinny
– Comment on her size for how many weeks pregnant she is
– Say ‘Are you SURE there’s only one in there?’ We realise it’s meant to be a joke, but it’s not funny
Fitness coach, blogger and new mum Revie Jane Schulz recently posted a photo of herself and shared her story of the many derogatory comments she received when pregnant with her daughter Lexie, now three months old
“Me at #24Weeks and I looked like a lot of people’s full term. I know a lot of you babes on here are mamas to-be so here is a throwback for you. I posted this after so many comments were thrown my way for having a massive bump. I was so fed up, even when I had tried on this dress and the shop assistant said “Holy moly! My friend is 36 weeks and you’re only 24 weeks and you’re WAY bigger than her!” She repeated this to the lady in the next changing room to me. I cried while I tried the dress on. I got it everywhere I went and it did make me want to hide away. It’s tough, you’re carrying a human, your body is dramatically changing, more than you ever expected and then to rub salt in it, strangers feel the need to comment every time you’re out in public.
Here’s a tip, don’t mention the size of a bump. No “you’re so big!’s” No “oh! You’re so tiny!’s” Just say something like “you look beautiful/ healthy/ amazing!” – From @reviejane on Instagram
I too have had people comment on my pregnancy photos on my blog that I am ‘huge’, ‘enormous for 20 weeks’ and using emoticons that mean I was big. And it hurts. It’s rude. And insulting.
Comments like that affect how the woman feels, allows doubts to creep in and may make her concerned about the health of her baby. Makes her think about what she’s eating, if she’s healthy, if she’s a good mother, adds to worries about her baby, worries about how much sleep she’s getting, worries about feeling so sick she can’t eat as healthily as she’d like because all she feels like is salty dim sims dipped in tomato sauce!
If you can’t think of something kind and positive to say to a pregnant woman, just say Congratulations.
And if you absolutely have to comment further, try something like:
– You must be so excited!
– I am so happy for you!
– Have you picked out some names?
– <insert partner’s name> must be so excited
– <insert sibling’s name> is going to be a big brother/sister!
– Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?
– What a wonderful blessing to be pregnant
– You’re going to be a mother, congratulations!
– If there’s anything I can do, please let me know
Size doesn’t matter. Shape doesn’t matter. And it’s up to your doctor to advise you on the health and measurement of your baby, not the greengrocer or lady at the check-out.
We’re not big (or small), we’re amazing!