We have fat shaming, slut shaming, mum shaming, body shaming and who knew but there is even pregnancy shaming. It seems there will always be someone there to attack your insecurities, and this is normally done with the whole wide world watching. With the unkind keyboard warriors on social media, some even justify their harsh comments as being in the best intention for the receiver, a gentle push in the right direction.
When Kim Kardashian was pregnant, every day for nine months there was an update about her supposed weight gain. Who cares she is carrying a whole person in there! It is the same if a celebrity doesn't lose their baby weight in two days flat. All eyes are on them to snap back into shape. When it is the last thing on your mind once you have given birth, celeb or not. This then filters down to everyday mums like you and me. There is an unspoken pressure when you are pregnant to go give birth, and then be back in your skinny jeans for when you get home to watch the catch up of Tipping Point the same day. It just does not work like that, your body does not work like that, and that is just one thing of many that pregnant mum/ new mums are shamed for.
Some with say my bump was too small, or too big but how does one measure the correct size bump? Like bodies, and babies, we are all different and we are not meant to all look the same. We are not going to carry a baby in the same way either. If mum is happy, the baby is healthy that's all that matters surely? Is there really a need to come up to someone and comment on their appearance just because they are pregnant? Would we go up to someone we haven't seen in a while to say how big they looked? Probably not. Or if you are doing anything to keep in shape? (FYI No, running around after a toddler is pretty much an exercise regime in itself).
This also works the other way, when you can then get told you are doing too much, and that you are too thin. I am sure you have all seen the stories of the many weightlifting pregnant mums, still competing in the later stages even though it was under their doctor's supervision they were still accused of being reckless and irresponsible for doing it. Then there are the judgements on what you are eating and drinking! Oh, don't have that, oh you're eating a lot. A second bag of crisps hay? Well you are eating for two. The list is endless. Everyone has an opinion on everything. If you saw me normally stuffing a cream cake in my face would you say anything? But, because I am pregnant it is okay to make me feel ashamed? Growing a baby is tough and sometimes all you want to do is eat your own body weight in Greggs' cream scones.
Many of these comments will be just an offhand remark with the 'best intention' behind it. But, sometimes it's those best intentions that cause the most upset. Being pregnant of course comes with more hormones than a 13-year-old girls sleepover. The smallest thing can set you off crying/ raging/ laughing to a point you pee etc. I may be over sensitive at times but I think that's okay. You basically have your body become a stranger to you for nine months, leak from pretty much everywhere and for it to return in its semi-pre pregnant state afterwards. It doesn't ever go back exactly as you remember it. I think for anyone to deal with that it is overwhelming so we should be doing what we can to support and empower pregnant and new mums and not comment that they have eaten a six pack of Walkers but how amazing they are for growing a human (or two, or three, or more!).
Being pregnant also comes with a massive flashing arrow above your head saying LOOK SHE IS DOING STUFF, SHOULD SHE BE DOING STUFF? Yes, she should be as long as she feels like she is able too. I recently went to a gig, to see my favourite band. Who knew how long I would be confined to the house before I am brave enough to venture out with two kids in tow. I may not been seen for five years. I wasn't planning on getting to the front of the stage, or even in the middle. I was going to stand on the steps at the back and then head home. My moshing days were well and truly over even before I was pregnant! Everyone was staring at me as soon as I walked in. Looking down at my stomach and then back up with a questionable look on their faces that said, what is she doing here? Like that? Just because I am pregnant, my ears still work and I still want to enjoy my favourite band. I knew I was fine, and I enjoyed myself but why does being pregnant come with such a stigma if you want to do something, I don't know normal? I wasn't risking myself or the baby in any way. Being pregnant, does not mean we are going to hide away for nine months, so there will be a time you may come across a real life pregnant mama somewhere!
If you do come across a mum to be, tell her what an amazing mum she will be. It isn't Mastermind, so hold back off the questions, chances are mum doesn't even know herself what she wants to do or the brand of nappies she will use! All we need is for someone to tell us we are doing great, we look okay and to give us cake. No shame, no stigma, but instead more support, more empowerment and most of all more cake is needed. After all growing a baby, carrying them for nine months and then giving birth is the biggest change in a women's life and she needs all the kindness, power and positivity around her she can get.
Written By Vicki Cockerhill - The Honest Confessions Of An NICU Mum