One of the strangest aspects of pregnancy for me is how public your body becomes. You and your bump are now open and available for public comment and public touching. The first thing that happens is that people start force-feeding you. Well-meaning people insist you are now “eating for two”, so you simply must have that cake/ extra piece of garlic bread/ a second serving of dinner.
Did you know that the recommended increased intake is actually 500 calories? And that’s in the last trimester? Which amounts to an extra slice of toast or two. But that doesn’t stop other people piling extra food onto your plate and rejoicing in your pregnancy weight gain.
The second thing that happens is that people start obsessively commenting on your shape. I’ve had people tell me I’m looking “fuller” and “filling out” and people telling me I’m tiny and that I look very neat. But which is it? What am I supposed to be? And I find the fetishization of the bump very dangerous. The bump appears to be on trend at the moment – but it’s not just any bump. It’s a nice, neat, little bump that simply “pops” out over a pair of skinny jeans. It’s a yoga-toned bump, a bump that looks “super-cute” in a bodycon dress. It’s an acceptable bump, a media-militarised bump, with quite a specific circumference. Kim Kardashian was HUGE for example but Blake Lively had a beautiful bump and Kate Middleton’s was just so tiny!
This brings me onto the third issue. The bump isn’t really yours anymore. It belongs to the world. So if someone wants to touch your bump, or measure it, or rub it, they can. They can lift your top, pull in your dress and rub the bump. Anywhere – on the street, in a coffee shop, in the queue for the toilets. They don’t even have to ask – it’s their right!
And the reason I find all this disconcerting is that pregnancy is a very private, personal thing. Pregnancy is different for everyone – there is no one-bump-fits-all. You might have food cravings, you might not. You might be incredibly fit, but you might find the pregnancy exhausting. You might embrace all the changes to your body or you might find them overwhelming. You might feel differently in the different trimesters. You might feel different if you’re pregnant for the first time or a seasoned pregnancy pro.
So hands off the bump people! Give us pregnant ladies some breathing space so we can get used to being pregnant. We are so proud and excited and nervous and happy and we want to bask in being pregnant with you. But we are more than the sum of our bumps.
And we will have that second biscuit, please and thank you.