As someone who recently went through pregnancy for the very first time, I was challenged with not only navigating my own changing body image but also the varying opinions of those around me. Here are some helpful ways to aid you in navigating baby belly comments during pregnancy:

Navigating Baby Belly Comments during Pregnancy

Mental and body confusion

The pregnant body is confusing as all hell and is so different for each person. I remember early on not feeling like I was showing enough and so desperately wanting to see that bump. It eventually evolved into feeling full and bloated but still no bump. I’d get confused by feedback that I didn’t look pregnant at all, and confused by feedback that I was most certainly showing.

I just want data!

For some context, I went through fertility treatment which led to my pregnancy. Whether you tried for years, experienced loss, or got pregnant right away, many people are so desperate for data (eg a noticeable bump) to confirm what we’ve do desperately wanted. Confirmed pregnancy and a baby. So, feedback can be wanted yet also so hard and disorienting to hear.

Say it isn’t so!

I wanted to see my belly grow, I wanted reinforcement from others that they saw it too. But I also was navigating having lived with the body I was accustomed to my whole life. So as my body changed in the way I thought I wanted it to, I also had many moments of resisting it, hating it, and wishing it wasn’t so. Dialectically speaking I felt this way and I couldn’t have wanted a baby more and couldn’t have wanted to see that bump grow more too.

Who asked you?

Comments from others made it extra hard. Literally within 24 hours I’d hear “Wow, you really popped” to “Oh my god, you look smaller than I did at this time when I was pregnant” to “You just wait, it’s only going to get bigger!”. Navigating baby belly comments during pregnancy, especially comments like these, will certainly make distortion seem inevitable.

Let’s experiment

Through my experience, I learned through trial and error. Sometimes I felt just fine to say “hey thanks!” And move right along. Other times I’d get overwhelmed and stutter over my words. After getting advice from mamas who had been there, I started to practice using some of these responses below that felt right to me in terms of honoring my values and boundaries.

Healthy comebacks

I suggest having some canned responses ready if you receive comments that are unexpected, unwelcomed and/or upsetting. These are just ideas and ultimately, I encourage you to do what feels right for you. It can be helpful to have some statements ready just in case. And always know, there is no perfect response.

“You’re so huge!” Or “You’re so tiny!”

Response options:

  • “I feel healthy that’s all that matters.”
  • “I’m actually quite proud of my body for doing what it’s doing and that’s all that matters.”
  • “My doctor /midwife says I’m tracking just fine.”
  • “Baby is growing just as they should.”

If you feel a more direct approach is necessary, you can say:

  • “I don’t feel comfortable with you making comments about my body so I’d appreciate it that stays off-limits.”
  • “I know you are excited but would you mind not saying anything about my body size moving forward? I want to focus on my health not my body size.”
  • “I know you mean no harm, but I can get really in my head about my body so let’s change the topic. Thanks for understanding.”

If the comments are pushing too far, you can go with an even more assertive approach:
“Please don’t speak about my size. I’d like us to talk about something else now.”

What kind of relationship do you have with them?

For me it helped to think about the person giving the feedback, how well they know me, and their own story. It would help me extend benefit of the doubt. It didn’t mean I had to subject myself to unhelpful comments but did help me recognize that the feedback usually did come from a good place. So this was a way I could honor my value of trust in relationships while honoring my self-respect.

There are some cool moments too

While it is no easy task to combat baby belly comments, I also wanted to add that I’ve had some really wonderful moments of just feeling unbelievable gratitude for my body. My body has sustained a whole other life while keeping me going! I often hear people say that the pregnant body is amazing, and it really is. But if you don’t feel that all the time, that is OK! It can and will change from moment to moment. 

Article written by Dr. Abby Brown, PsyD

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