Bump shaming has been in the news recently, so we thought we would discuss some of the issues it raises within a blog. Whilst the size of your bump is, naturally, a physical issue, it goes hand in hand with the inevitable psychological fallout which happens when others judge the size and shape of your bump.
Comments can range from “Oh my! I’ve never seen a pregnant woman as big as you are” (yes, someone did actually say this to my face when I was approaching 42 weeks of pregnancy), to “Are you sure you’re even pregnant?”. Language can indeed be a powerful thing during pregnancy when your body is going through lots of changes and hormone levels can affect our moods and emotions.
Whether you have been judged as too small or too big for your gestation during pregnancy or even endured comments about your bump being the wrong type of shape, it really isn’t anyone else’s business but your own.
Baby bumps come in many different shapes and sizes as we are all very individual and one size does not fit all!
Why does my bump look big?
There are lots of reasons why your bump could look bigger, but it’s rarely because you are carrying a giant baby that you won’t be able to give birth to naturally. This is because most women’s bodies will simply not grow a baby which is too large for them to birth, as this clearly wouldn’t make sense for the continuation of the human race. Your body will usually grow a baby which is an appropriate size to fit through your pelvis. One of the exceptions to this is when women have gestational diabetes and their blood sugars have not been stable, as this means that baby can gain more weight than they were meant to. Regular antenatal checks from your midwife will usually pick up other conditions which may need monitoring more closely, such as polyhydramnios (excess waters around your baby).
Your bump can look bigger for many reasons, here are a few possibilities:
- A short torso. If this is your body shape, your bump may look like it is all at the front of your body, as there is less room to accommodate it around your body.
- You have a spine which is more concave at the bottom of your back. This shape will often mean you carry your bump further towards the front of your body, which in turn can make it look bigger.
- Your tummy muscles aren’t very tight. This means that your growing uterus doesn’t have much counter pressure and can come forward more easily.
- You have had one or more babies before. This can mean that your abdominal muscles are not as tight, therefore your bump shows sooner and looks bigger.
Why does my bump look small?
It turns out that people can be equally critical of smaller bumps too! This can often cause women distress and worry as they can think their babies aren’t growing properly. A small bump does not necessarily indicate a small baby and again regular antenatal care will usually highlight if there is a problem. If you are measuring small or plotting on your customised growth chart smaller, you will be offered growth scans by your midwife, which can indicate if there is a problem which needs monitoring more closely.
Here are a few possible reasons your bump may look smaller:
- A long torso. If this is your body shape, your uterus and baby have more room and therefore you may carry your baby around your body, rather than your bump being more towards the front.
- Your spine and back are straighter in shape, which means your uterus and bump aren’t pushed forward as much.
- Your tummy muscles are tight. If you do a lot of exercise, especially the type which concentrates on your abdominal muscles or it is your first baby, then these muscles can be firmer, and your bump can seem smaller.
- A retroverted uterus. This means that due to the structure of ligaments holding your uterus in place, it is tilted backwards, and it may take longer for your bump to show. This is purely an anatomical difference and doesn’t cause any problems during pregnancy.
SummaryThere are many reasons why your bump forms the shape it does and the beauty of this is that every bump is unique. When comments are made about women’s bumps they can cause anxiety about the health of their babies, so try to keep your comments about others kind and non-judgemental. Remember that no one knows how another person feels inside or what they have been through during their lives and that pregnancy can be both a physical and emotional rollercoaster for many women.