MY EXPERT MIDWIFE’S MANIFESTO TO END BUMP SHAMING
What’s the issue?
My Expert Midwife believes in being honest with and supportive of women before, during and after pregnancy.
A woman’s body and her bump is hers. Getting pregnant and nurturing a baby in your womb is no mean feat. It’s one of the most amazing achievements of Mother Nature. And it’s not always the bed of roses it’s often painted to be. Hormonal changes, which can affect women both physically and emotionally, can be really challenging. And that’s not helped when those around you believe they know better or best.
One of many issues women face is how people react to their body as their pregnancy advances. When we asked over 1,000 women about their experiences over summer, our survey revealed some pretty shocking findings. Over two thirds (66%) told us that they had been “bump shamed” – i.e. their pregnancy bump and shape had been commented on negatively. And over 80% said they had experienced “bump stroking”. Even worse, 11% said this had happened after specifically asking the person not to touch their bump.
Whilst we know there are many other issues that perhaps matter more, we believe that we need to raise awareness of this issue and give women the confidence to speak out about “bump shaming.”
#MyBodyMyBump: A Manifesto
- Women should be able to enjoy and cope with pregnancy on their terms.
- There is no “norm” or typical pregnancy size or shape.
- Women must be supported to feel confident and positive about their changing body.
- We need to educate people that it’s not ok to comment on, nor have uninvited physical contact with a pregnant woman. It can upset and stress women who are already having to make massive adjustments as they prepare to give birth.
Don’t shy away from people whose behaviour is inappropriate towards you or pregnant friends. You can say something back politely, but assertively:
“Did you mean to say that out loud?”
“I’m sure the highly qualified and experienced medical professionals, who I see regularly, would have picked up any problems.”
“I’m sure that you didn’t mean to give me unnecessary worry with your comments.”
“That’s interesting; when did you qualify as a midwife/doctor?”
“I’m sure you didn’t mean to upset me, otherwise you wouldn’t have said…”
“I don’t feel comfortable with crystal ball predictions thanks. If there’s anything I want to find out, I do so through my doctors and midwives.”
“We’ve all got different bodies – it’s no different when you’re pregnant to any other time.”
“I don’t get why you think it’s ok to make personal comments about my shape, just because I’m pregnant. It’s not OK”
To be more involved and to keep up to date on our Bump Shaming activity simply enter your email address here
Any criticism or comments made to you during your pregnancy, or afterwards can negatively affect your mental health. If you’ve experienced this and feel you need support then MIND offer excellent support and resources.
There are many reasons why your bump forms its' shape and every bump is unique, read our ‘What’s size got to do with things’ blog explains the different reasons for bump shape and size.
*Source: My Expert Midwife survey August 2019 of 1145 women