As Annie Ridout’s body becomes transformed by pregnancy, strangers can’t seem to help themselves from commenting. Usually with: “God, you’re huge.” Here’s why the commentary needs to stop…
I make big babies.
My first was 10lb 7oz, my second was induced so that he didn’t get too big and still came out weighing 10lb. I’m cool with this; a big baby is robust. But my frame is quite small, so my stomach just stretches and stretches to make space.
Basically, I get a very big ‘bump’.
Again, I’m not too bothered. I’m fascinated by how my body can accommodate a baby. But what I find incredibly dull is the constant commentary from other people about my size.
I’m 27 weeks pregnant with my third baby and every single day I hear comments like:
- God, you’re huge!
- Sure it isn’t twins?
- Got to be more than one in there.
- You’re about ready to drop!
- Must be due soon?
These comments are rarely made in a rude way; it’s more like an impulse people have to analyse the pregnant woman in front of them. They simply can’t help it. Or they’re trying to be friendly; making small talk.
That doesn’t mean it’s ok, though.
I went to see the dentist recently. The woman behind the desk said to me: whoa, you’re big. Sure it’s only one in there? And I said: if I had a pound for every time someone said that, I’d be a rich woman.
She looked embarrassed. What I was supposed to do was laugh at her joke. Perhaps she didn’t realise I’d already heard it once that day – and about 50 times previously, across three pregnancies.
I forgave her. She wasn’t trying to be mean. But I was glad I’d made it clear that her comment was neither funny nor original, hoping that she might think twice before saying something similar to another pregnant woman.
I was wrong.
I returned to the dentists yesterday, with my kids. Same receptionist: you’re big – it’s a boy, isn’t it?
But I’d just been to see the midwife, who’d told me I’m measuring at the right size for my dates. That this baby might be a ‘normal’ size and everything looked healthy and fine.
So I said to the receptionist: no, I’m not big. I’m exactly right for my dates. Then I walked away.
Later in the day, I went to a Chinese herbalists. The shop assistant said: wow, you’re big. I said: no, I’m not big. I’m exactly right for my dates. And I walked away.
It feels good to know I’m ‘normal’-sized. It helps with my response. But this might change. The baby might suddenly grow; my stomach might protrude more than it ‘should’. And what will I say then? Yes, I am big. I make big babies.
I’m sick of the commentary. I’m fed up with having to find a phatic response to these judgements. I’m bored of how women’s bodies – pregnant or not – are always scrutinised.
I’m annoyed that so many pregnant women feel self-conscious because they, too, are being told they’re too big, too small, neat, spread, fat, wide, changed, wrong, marked, loose.
D’you know what? I don’t even be want to told I’m ‘blooming’ or ‘glowing’ or anything positive. I just want to enjoy the last trimester of pregnancy without so many comments on my appearance.
Would you comment on someone’s size or shape if they weren’t carrying a baby? No. So apply the same rule to pregnant women.