Let's talk body confidence during pregnancy

I've been umm-ing and ahh-ing about writing this post for a few days now. I don't like to moan, or sound ungrateful, but it's something that has really got to me recently.

If you're my friend on Facebook, you'll have maybe seen my post about this - but I'll elaborate now.

I've never been particularly body confident, I've always been able to pick flaws about myself - but what girl hasn't? However, deep down I have known that my picking faults were entirely my problem and that there really wasn't anything wrong with me.

When I got pregnant, the first changes to my body were difficult to embrace. Until I got an obvious bump, I just looked like I'd put weight on - and that was a struggle. Once my bump started to form, though, I absolutely loved it. I loved wearing fitted and bodycon items of clothing to show it off - I've been so proud of it.

As I've been nearing the end of pregnancy, I have obviously been growing bigger by the week. But, you know, that's kind of the point when growing a baby.

I was prepared for that, I remember writing in one of my earlier blogs that I knew I was going to be big. I think I compared to myself to being like Kim Kardashian when pregnant with North. I was prepared for it and, hey, if it's ok for Kim K then it's ok for Nat K!

Tom and I are both tall, so this baby is going to be leggy. I am also tall, and very hippy, which means I will carry my baby entirely differently to someone who is much smaller and has a smaller frame than me. I was expecting it, so I am not phased at all by how 'big' my bump is.

What I am phased about, and what has really started to affect my confidence, is everyone feeling it ok to comment on the size of my bump.

I have heard it all, most of which I am sure is just said in jest, but when you hear something enough times it really starts to grind you down.

"You surely can't grow any bigger than that, you must be ready to pop now."
"I wasn't that big when I was full term"
"Are you sure there's only one in there?"
"You're definitely not going to go full-term if you're that size already"
"Oooh it's going to be a big baby, look how big you are"

My personal favourite is when people compare me and my mum, when she was pregnant with me. Or me and my best friend, who is just eight weeks behind me in her pregnancy. My mum was smaller when she had me, but she's about a foot smaller than me anyway! So I would expect her to be.

Likewise, with my best friend. She's much smaller than me and has a much smaller frame, so I would never expect her to have a bump as big as mine.

I hadn't been bothered at all about the size of my bump until everyone started commenting on it, and it left me feeling really, really self-conscious; which made me feel really sad. After I'd started to get stretch marks, I was already a bit less confident, but I still loved showing my bump off (not in the flesh, just with fitted clothing!)

So everyone's comments really started to grind me down and make me feel so terrible. I can honestly see why so many women end up with huge body confidence issues and eating disorders during, and after, pregnancy. Nobody would ever walk up to someone who has put some weight on and, to their face, tell them how big they have got. So why is it ok to say it to a pregnant lady? A pregnant lady who is growing a life inside of her and undergoing some incredible changes to her body.

I know that people who have said about the size of my bump, or have said any of those things to me, will probably feel really guilty now if they're reading this. That's not my aim, I don't want people to feel really bad and like they've upset me. On their own, each comment would be laughed off. But hearing it all the time, and sometimes even from people I don't really know, it starts to get you down.

I know nobody means it in a horrible way, and nobody is trying to make me feel bad about myself. I think a lot of it is awkwardness, and people not knowing what to say to a pregnant lady. People maybe try to make a joke, which is fine, but jokes stop being jokes when they start to grind you down. But having been on this side of it, I will never ever say to a pregnant woman how big she looks, or try to make any jokes about size.

I had my 34-week midwife appointment last week and she measured my bump again. When I was measured at 31 weeks, I was measuring at 32. And when I was measured last week, I was measuring at 35.

I asked the midwife if she was worried I was too big, and if everything was ok, and she looked a bit shocked. I told her everyone had been telling me how big I was and I was worried, and her words have stuck with me since.

She said: "You are absolutely where you should be. You are following the expected growth line perfectly and we have absolutely no worries whatsoever. Each one of these projected growth charts is unique to each person, and you're exactly where we want you to be following the perfect curve. You're looking absolutely fabulous, so don't you worry."

Honestly, I could've kissed her. To hear that just made me feel so much more at ease and less worried that I'd be birthing a toddler next month.

I imagine it's the same the other end of the spectrum for people who have really small bumps. When Gary Beadle's (Gaz from Geordie Shore) girlfriend was pregnant she got so much stick for having such a small bump and "not looking pregnant". People said she was obviously not giving the baby enough nutrition and that it wasn't going to be healthy, but he was born a healthy 6lb-er.

It's so strange how being pregnant suddenly gives everyone the right to comment on your body.

Of course, if people are going to tell you lovely things about you glowing, blooming, suiting pregnancy, looking well etc. then all that is fine - you'd pay compliments to anyone when you thought they looked good.

We'd had a maternity shoot booked with the people who did our wedding photography, which took place this weekend. I was getting increasingly nervous about it after having my confidence bashed. I didn't want photos of my bump because I didn't want to remember being made to feel like such a whale.

However, when we went, I was made to feel so at ease and so comfortable that I forgot about all the "huge" comments and embraced my bump and my body. And I absolutely love the sneak peek of pictures that we have already seen. 

The pregnant body is such an amazing thing - literally growing a life inside you. It should be celebrated, and not criticised. Some women have terrible pregnancies with illness and health problems, all pregnant women should be celebrated not their size constantly scrutinised. Too big, too small, who gives a toss. As long as there's a healthy mum and healthy baby, that's all that matters.

So, here's to body positivity! Let's celebrate everyone - no matter their shape and size, pregnant or not. 

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