I had never known about this phenomenon until I became pregnant. I had never known that how my body looked and my body weight would be the subject of much public fascination, questioning and even judgement.
Why does being pregnant mean it’s open season for anyone to make remarks and comments about one’s body weight, something not normally considered a topic of casual, everyday conversation?
During my pregnancy, I was called “chunky” and “fatty” among other comments, and asked point blank about my weight gain numerous times, even by almost complete strangers. And I’m not alone in this. I’ve had many conversations on this topic with other pregnant women to know that they too have been on the receiving end of some pretty shocking comments.
As someone who spent almost a decade of my girlhood struggling with low self –esteem and negative body image issues, and many years in the trenches doing intense and deep healing work in order to feel more comfortable and at ease in my body, to be on the receiving end of such comments during my pregnancy was really perplexing. It was also quite the opposite of how I felt during a large part of my pregnancy, which was pretty darn healthy, energetic and strong.
Pregnancy is a time when a woman’s body goes through rapid and profound change. A pregnant woman may feel joyful, or she may struggle with how she feels about her changing shape, or have mixed feelings. Some days, she may feel like she has energy to burn, while on others, like she could sleep for eons. And an expecting woman happens to be carrying around a lot more than her own adipose. On average:
- The placenta weighs 1 ½ pounds
- Increased blood and fluid volume totals 8 pounds
- Amniotic fluid weighs 2 pounds
- The uterus weighs 2 pounds
- Breast tissue weighs 2 pounds
- By the end of pregnancy, the baby weighs 7 ½ pounds
Basically, a pregnant woman’s body is working very hard to grow and sustain a tiny human. So instead of commenting on her weight, ask her how she’s feeling. Offer her your seat on the subway/bus/streetcar. But when it comes to her weight, please, please, don’t go there.
Negative remarks about a woman’s body during pregnancy and postpartum are irrelevant to the incredible miracle and power of creation and reflect perverse and superficial cultural beliefs of thin as beautiful. The human body’s ability to create and nurture life is an awe-inspiring wonder, and there is nothing more beautiful than that.