I am deemed as a plus size woman. I wear UK size 20 maternity clothes (thank goodness for Asos Maternity), that’s a size 18 in the US/CAN. I am also, as regular readers and tweeters know, 27weeks pregnant. During our fresh and frozen embryo cycle of IVF I put on all the weight I had lost to be eligible for NHS funded IVF. All worth it to be able to say I am 27weeks pregnant of course! However society hates plus size people. It’s a fact. People are fat shamed just for being themselves. Women’s magazines are filled with articles on the latest diets and shaming celebrities who are above a size 6 and God forbid wore a bikini on holiday! If you’re above a UK size 12 (US 10) you’re made to feel not skinny enough, get above a UK size 18 (US 16) and you’re disgusting. This doesn’t go away when you’re pregnant. In fact there is a whole world of different shame thrust upon you when plus sized and pregnant.
We all dream of that perfect bump, that instantly recognisable “D” shape sprouting from your middle. Focussing on it can help you through the dark days of trying to conceive and IVF. That thought that it is all worth it, because one day you’ll be just like other women, proudly wearing your beautiful bump where your miracle baby is growing inside you. Except no one tells you that when you’re plus size that perfect D bump you dreamed of may never come. That there is more than one bump shape and way to look pregnant. I got more comments about when I was due before I was pregnant than I do now! To society I look less pregnant and more fat at 27weeks than I did during peak IVF bloat. I’m battling hard against these views. It’s hard enough being told you don’t look nice or that you don’t fit in with social conformities, when you aren’t pregnant. Then when you are pregnant you’re already feeling like your body isn’t quite your own as it changes so quickly, and then someone comes along asking when/if at all you think you’ll get a bump and you can end up feeling somehow “less pregnant”. Like your pregnancy isn’t as valid because you didn’t have a flat stomach that hinted at the baby growing inside from 12weeks. The fact of the matter is I can see my bump. I have a B shaped bump. No matter what size or how much I weigh I have always looked like I had an electric band round my middle, this hasn’t changed in pregnancy. My belly button is finally popping to catch up with the rest of me but there is no doubt in my mind I will never have that perfect neat D shape bump. And for a while I felt ashamed. I would hide my B bump, dress in a way that made it look like I was a “normal” pregnant lady.
If I don’t wear dresses like these I feel like a fraud, that my waddle and swollen feet are nothing to do with being pregnant. If I was going out to the shops I would change out of house clothes just so I looked more pregnant.
In all honesty this didn’t make me feel like less of a fraud. When someone would compliment me whilst I was “dressed up”, I felt the need to explain it was all just clever dressing and I didn’t actually have a bump. I don’t know why I’ve done this, ok I do, but I hate that I felt I had to! The lesson I most want to teach my child is that of body acceptance, positivity and love. That whatever you look like is you and you are perfect. You can be fat or thin and be beautiful. What size clothes you wear and being beautiful are not mutually exclusive. I’ve failed our Boba in that I’m not living what I want to teach them. I’ve been bashing my body, ashamed of it whilst it does one of the most amazing things. So I’m trying to change. This could be my only pregnancy. Do I really want to look back and all I have is memories of shame of the way my body was doing the incredible thing of helping my child grow?! No, I want to look back and be proud. I may not have that neat D shape bump but I do have a bump! My B shaped bump is still a bump and is home to my beautiful IVF miracle baby. I hate that I’ve failed to embrace that. So here it is, my B shape bump, our Boba’s home for another 11weeks.
For any other plus size and pregnant ladies this is for you. Embrace your body and love it. We can’t all have that round shaped bump so much of the media is filled with. Diversity is what makes us who we are. Stereotypes and body shaming do not need to rule your life, especially during such a precious time. Your bump and baby are valid. I hope this blog helps someone out there, I can’t be the only one who has been hiding or feeling like they are somehow less pregnant because of their bump size. Please do feel free to share your bump in the comments too. You are beautiful.
Blog/Tweet soon @HopeEpiMum x