I get it. It’s a potentially awkward and uncomfortable conversation to have.
Someone asks if you’re pregnant. Flustered, you explain that you’re not. The ‘asker’ feels badly (maybe?) and they try to back-track. You reassure them that’s it’s fine, even though you’re now feeling rage-y and upset.
But, does it have to be this way? I really don’t think it does.
Hear me out.
I want you to know that your feelings are valid. Always. I don’t want to tell you not to feel something. I just want to offer you another perspective that might help you feel more at ease (and less taken aback) if this question pops up for you.
Why do we take offence to this?
Some questions to think through:
• Why is being asked if you’re pregnant so terrible?
• Why is it something that inflicts such a deeply negative, emotional response for us? What makes us go this particular place?
• Why do we do the whole, “never ask a woman if she’s pregnant!” thing?
• Why do we get uncomfortable about our body if someone asks us a question about our body?
• Why do we go into the tailspin of “my body is horrible, fat, disgusting, and I need to lose weight now” if someone asks if we’re pregnant and we’re not?
(Beside the fact that our bodies are our own business, and ours alone, of course.)
Me = 36 weeks pregnant, summer of 2015. Why do we think pregnant bellies are beautiful, but not postpartum bellies? This needs to change.
What is this about?
• because of belly fat?
• because of the fear of being considered ‘fat’?
• because of a possible perceived notion that if your belly isn’t flat then it’s too fat?
• because of fear of having a belly that is soft and round and not visibly muscular?
• because of discomfort in a postpartum body that is bigger, softer, and carrying more belly fat than it used to?
Those are a few reasons that might come up for you.
Quick note: I’m very aware that there can be lots of other reasons why being asked this question can be a hard experience. Perhaps you’ve had a tough rough to conception. Perhaps there has been multiple rounds of IVF. Perhaps you’ve had a miscarriage(s).
I don’t know what it’s like to go through those things and I can’t imagine how many difficult things you’ve had to feel. No doubt this can be far more than a body image conversation. I’m going to approach this from that place for now, though.
As a new mom, let me tell you how I feel about this.
I had a baby 11 months ago.
My belly is softer and squishier than it was pre-pregnancy. If I was wearing a tighter dress or shirt, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone thought I was in early pregnancy and asked if I was pregnant. Simply because my belly now is pretty much the size and shape of what it was in early pregnancy.
Those are just facts.
AND, IT’S FINE.
It’s really not something I give thought to. I’ve done a lot of work over the past few years to de-sensitize myself to things like having belly fat, and weighing a certain number of pounds, and ‘tummy pooches’.
Really, spending time enjoying my life and my baby is top priority.
There is nothing bad, or needing to be fixed about my softer, bigger, postpartum tummy.
The fact that my belly is different (and bigger) than it was before I became pregnant is a really normal variation of a postpartum body. We need to show up as we are in these normal variations of postpartum bodies.
Great news: they’re all normal!
• Your body? Normal.
• Your mom friends’ bodies? Normal, too.
I continue to choose to love my body just as it is and to be I’m comfortable in it. It’s a choice that I’ve been actively working on for a few years now.
I have been ACTIVE in the process of choosing to enjoy my body throughout all it’s changes through pregnancy and through this (almost) first year postpartum.
I’m not stopping.
The person who is asking the question? They don’t mean any harm.
They really don’t. They are not trying to make you feel bad things about your body. They are simply asking a question. You don’t know why they are asking it.
Don’t put your assumptions on them. Don’t assume they are asking because of the shape of your belly.
It’s up to us to choose how we perceive this question and how we react. Hard? Yes. Worthwhile to explore the WHY’S? Yes.
A few things you can say if someone asks you if you’re pregnant and you’re not:
• No. (You really don’t need to explain anything further than that.)
• Nope. My baby was born _______ ago. (Who cares if it was 5+ years ago?)
• I’m not. Why? Am I glowing? 😉
Above all else, avoid the need to explain yourself or your body.
Do not say that you know you have a lot of work to do, or that you’re still trying to lose the baby weight, or that your baby is a bad sleeper so you haven’t been able to get back to your pre-pregnancy size.
Just say ‘no’ and move along.
There is nothing wrong with looking like you’re pregnant or looking like you’ve had a baby.
So grateful that my body allowed me to build this baby.
Most of all, mama’s, please show up as you are. Please stop feeling like you need to hide your body. Please stop feeling like your body needs to look as though you’ve never been pregnant.
You don’t win postpartum by looking like your pre-pregnant self.
Remember, it’s just a question and, ultimately, we get to choose our reaction to it.
Let’s continue this conversation about uplifting and encouraging positive body relationships in pregnancy and postpartum on my private email list. As a bonus, receive a free 4-week strength training program to help you feel strong, powerful, and pain-free when you sign up below!