Well Rounded Birth Prep

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Wide variety of healthy and normal in pregnancy

I predicted a few weeks ago that by the time I would be 6-7 months along, I'd get comments from strangers wondering whether I'd have the baby any day now. Yes, I carry obviously, with each of my pregnancies, pretty much from the time I get a positive pregnancy test. No exaggeration, I actually had to unbutton my jeans when I was sitting down, for several days before I got my positive pregnancy test this time around (and I had no idea I was pregnant), and have been wearing maternity clothes since about 8 weeks along.

There's such a wide range of normal! I wish more mothers--and America in general--understood and accepted this. People seem to have a very narrow idea of what is normal, but people come in all shapes, heights, builds, weights, and more--why wouldn't there be such a wide variation in healthy pregnancies as well?

So long as both mom and baby are faring well, there's nothing wrong with a mom carrying so "small" that she's barely showing, nor anything wrong with a momma who gets asked if she's having twins every time she leaves the house (even if she's carrying a singleton). Let's don't undermine another mother's confidence by questioning whether her size/appearance is too big or too little (unless you happen to be her care provider).

Take my friend Christy and me, for example. In this pic from this weekend, Christy is nearly 37 weeks along with her 4th baby (that is to say, she could go into labor any time between now and a month from now), and I'm 23 weeks along with my 5th. We're both healthy and fine.

My friend Trebor is due with her 5th baby around 2 weeks after I'm due. Just wait until later in our pregnancies and the difference will be photo-worthy, I promise.

Sarah 22 weeks, Trebor 20 weeks

In summary, here is a list of things nobody should ever say to a pregnant woman:

If you think mom looks "too big":
  • "Wow, you're huge!" (Does this sound like it could EVER be a good idea to say to a woman?)
  • "You look like you're ready to pop!"
  • "Are you sure there's only one in there?/Are you sure it's not twins/triplets?"
  • "I hope you don't go into labor right here and now!"
  • "Are you sure you're not due for 2 more months?" along with
  • "There's no way you're going to make it to your due date, since you're so big now." (The mom might go early, on due date, or 2 weeks late. How she carries/looks is not a predictor or indicator of how long baby needs to gestate. You'll either have her worried that she'll end up with a premie or disappointed if she gets her hopes up that she won't go all the way to her due date but then goes "late.")
  • "You had better not eat/drink that!" (This is sometimes said to a mom with a dessert or coffee in her hand. The observer has no idea what the rest of her diet looks like, not that it's any of their business.) 
  • "Your baby is going to be HUGE!!!" (Even if the mom has successfully and healthfully delivered 10 and 11 pounders already, this is NOT what a mom wants to hear. It's not encouraging.)
  • "How much weight have you gained?" (This is NEVER a good idea to ask a woman, unless you are her care provider.)
If you think mom looks "too small":
  • "You're so tiny you don't even look pregnant!" (This one can be especially upsetting for a mother who has lost one or more babies in the past, who might be concerned whether this baby will grow to full term healthfully.)
  • "Are you sure you're due that soon?" (No mom wants for people to imply that she needs several additional weeks/months to gestate, beyond the biological norm.)
  • "You'll probably have a teeny tiny baby." (No mom wants for anyone to imply that she'll probably end up with a premie or sick baby.)
  • "You should eat more." (No mom wants for random strangers to judge her diet. She might be eating the most healthful diet possible, and this is just the shape her body takes. Or she might be eating only junk. Either way, it's nobody's business but hers and her care provider's.)
  • "How much weight have you gained?" (See above.)
Here are a few starters for acceptable things to say to a random pregnant woman:
  • "You look great!"
  • "How do you feel?"
  • "Congratulations!"

Mommas, are/did you carry "large", "small," or in between? Did you receive any comments from people who thought you were carrying "too large" or "too small"? What affect did that have, if any? What positive things did people say about your pregnant appearance that encouraged you (or what do you wish had been said)?

**** UPDATE****

October 11, 2011

Remember how I told you that belly comparisons with my friend Trebor would be interesting over time? She's due two weeks behind me, with her 5th pregnancy this far along as well. She and our friend Eileen (3rd baby) share the same due date, and we three all have the same midwife. (This should be an interesting competition for who gets our midwife, and when. We're hoping we don't go into labor at the same time!)

L-R: me (Sarah) at 29 weeks; Trebor and Eileen at 27 weeks

************** UPDATE  Nov. 6, 2011 *************

Sarah at 33 weeks, Trebor at 31 weeks

Sarah at 33 weeks, Trebor at 31 weeks.

Can I say "I told you so" yet?

************ UPDATE December 1, 2011 *************

Same 3 mommies, same 3 bellies, a bit closer to due dates.

I'm on the far left. I'm 36.5 weeks along. Trebor and Eileen are both 34 weeks along. Yes, I'm aware that my belly is roughly 1.5 times the size of Eileen's and twice the size of Trebor's. You may also notice that Trebor and Eileen are a good 4 inches taller than me (I was wearing wedge heels; Trebor and Eileen were in flats).  When you're as short as I am, with a short torso, there's nowhere for baby to go but *out*.


  1. Thank you for posting this. I am average height and gained about 60 lbs with my first pregnancy. for the last two months all I seemed to hear (even from family) was "Are you sure you're not due sooner" and "Are you STILL pregnant?" it got so bad I didn't want to go out anymore.

  2. Add to the list of things not to say "how's your weight?"

  3. Oh my word, people actually ask a pregnant woman's weight? I wonder if anyone asked me before and I blocked it from my memory?

    I ran into a pregnant lady yesterday, the kind who has a tiny bump and I was wondering whether she was pregnant or not. I overheard her telling someone that she's due at the end of the year. I spoke up that I am too, and she told me that just yesterday someone told her she's so huge she must be carrying twins. What is WRONG with people??? That lady was NOT huge. And even if she were, nobody should ever say that!

  4. I get the "you don't even look pregnant!" comments when I'm 5-6 (or more!) months along. (Note: I outgrow my normal jeans around 12 weeks, even if no one notices. I MUST acquire some more fitted clothing, LOL.) I carry "tucked-in" the whole time, and even two weeks past EDD (for whatever that's worth), I looked how most people look around 6 months.

    "You look great!" is the only really good comment on a pregnant woman's appearance, LOL; all the well-intentioned "but you're so small!" comments somehow make me feel like the *pregnancy* is less significant than it would be if I were bigger, when I'm pregnant. Irrational, yes, but that's how it strikes me: Like I'm doing something "wrong" (or am not as tough/cool/baby-nourishing/whatever) as people who show unmistakably at 10 weeks, LOL.

    It's only a small annoyance, but I can't TELL you how awesome it is to find other people who don't get that adorable "basketball" in front. :)

  5. I definitely can be in the category of non-basketball-bellied pregnant women. I am normally on the slender side not pregnant.
    But when I get pregnant, I go on the fast track to plump FAST.
    My first pregnancy, I was bloating out of my normal jeans within 2 weeks of the positive test. I gained about 55 pounds but lost 70 afterwards.

    This time, mostly same thing. I get big ALL over, lots of fat cells everywhere. I have just learned to love it. This is how my body does pregnant and even though I always hoped I would have the basketball belly at 9 months while still wearing my normal jeans unbuttoned, that remains a pipe dream. ;-)

  6. I'm now a little over 8 months pregnant and I always get the "wow you're small" or "you can't be due that soon" comments. I even had one lady guess that I was 3-4 months along. It does suck hearing those comments! I'm pregnant, have been for quite a while. I have to deal with all the pregnancy symptoms and having (literally) nothing to "show" for it even at 7 months has been hard. Some ppl are just now noticing that I'm pregnant. And I haven't tried to hide it at all!

  7. Anonymous, that's proof that there's no pleasing "them"! We just can't win! We're "too big" or "too small." How about JUST RIGHT??? Augh.

  8. You all three look gloriously pregnant to me! Beautiful, healthy, expectant mamas!

  9. I can honestly say that I believe that I heard most all of those comments throughout the course of my pregnancy!! I have a long torso and gained 50lbs and stuck way out there!! I look at pictures of myself at 39 weeks and say WOW but I delivered a healthy 10lb baby too!! I can proudly say that I lost that weight pretty quickly also!! One of the glorious benefits of BREASTFEEDING!!

  10. You all look so cute! I love how in the last pic you can slightly see your bellybutton poking out.

  11. LOL. So understand...I guess we shorties have to stick together... ;)

  12. Adorable. I, too, love your belly button. And, I also understand the short thing. Exactly it. Nowhere to go but out! :)

  13. I LOVE your last pic especially. Bare bellies filled with babies are so beautiful! :)


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