30 April 2007

Rebecca on proving 'I'm not a fat person'

After struggling to conceive for over 2 years, I am currently 7 months pregnant with an IVF miracle. Pre-pregnancy I weighed 50kgs and my body fat was 16 percent. On advice from my Obstetrician, I backed off the exercise and gained 4kgs. I believe this helped me to eventually conceive. I have so far gained 13kgs during my pregnancy and am now putting up with snide remarks about my weight gain. All I want to achieve is a healthy baby but I am being made to feel like my pregnancy is more about how big my butt is now as opposed to the fact that I am finally able to have a child at all! As much as I would like to say I just ignore the comments and move on, I do take them to heart and often end up in tears behind closed doors. I am now finding I can't wait for the baby to come so I can exercise again and 'prove' I am not a 'fat person'! Society puts too much pressure on women; when if ever, are we going to get a break?


caesareans and obesity

It is very interesting that elective caesareans have become the hot topic of the week (particularly in The Age) ever since Catherine Deveny wrote 'The great birthing con is taking choice away from women' last Thursday.

You can read it here: http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/the-great-birthing-con-is-taking-choice-away/2007/04/25/1177459782569.html

Being the person that I am, I wrote a letter in response. Here is a small sample:

Honestly, the situations in which birthing women make these ‘choices’ require careful analysis and of course, critique. There is no question that some women perhaps make birth ‘choices’ based on inadequate or biased sources of information or as a result of sacrifices made on behalf of their partner or even for the health of the unborn baby. Yet, obscuring the often positive benefits of obstetric technology only complicates women’s efforts to use that same technology for their own benefits. The argument that technology like caesarean sections, which are no doubt more ‘risky’ than vaginal birth, cannot be used for feminist or woman-centred approaches to childbirth is wrong. The fact that many women appreciate the use of pain relief in childbirth despite awareness of the risks of epidural injections into the spine, for example, suggests that women are sometimes able to influence medical practice and use intervention for their own ends. The insistence that women can/should/ought to find childbirth to be empowering or easy or ‘natural’ neglects the diversity of Australian experiences of birth. In addition the notion that the ‘alternative’ or midwife-driven birth culture has successfully challenged medical hegemony is also misleading. Although the values and aims of woman centred one-on-one midwifery care may resonate with many birthing women and have more appeal than hospital birth, the fact is that the overwhelming majority of births are still highly medicalised. Medicalisation is stronger than ever in Australia and the midwifery movement is essential in assessing and critiquing current obstetric practices.

Then, today I was thinking about an issue that has been completely lost from any of the recent dialogue surrounding elective caesarean being that overweight or obese women are much more likely to have a caesar than any other women. In 1995 the rate was 16.6 per cent and last year it was up to 23.2 per cent which quite closely follows the increase in the rising number of women considered to be 'obese', about 25%. It is not women who are 'too posh to push' that are necessarily pushing up the caesarean rate in the 'Western' world. As a result of the medical assumption that extra fat restricts the baby's safe passage in a vaginal delivery, overweight women are becoming increasingly subject to 'emergency' caesars and other unwanted medical intervention.

In light of this, I found a great article on Without Measure, the blog of the International Size Acceptance Association with some helpful information on avoiding a caesar as a 'woman of size'.

tori talks post-baby bumps

Tori Spelling was on Jimmy Kimmel the other night promoting her new show and also talking about new motherhood. She mentioned a few interesting bits about breastfeeding (yay!) and also about a run at a supermarket with a woman who thought she was still pregnant:

I was in the market last week and some woman approached me, 'TORI!' so I was like, 'Hi!' and she said, 'The baby!,' and I was like, 'Oh yeah,' thinking he had been on the cover of Us Magazine, and she walked up and said, 'Can I touch him?' and grabbed my belly. And then it got worse. I was like, "Oh no no, he was born 5 weeks ago!' and she goes, 'OH! You still have the belly.' I said, 'Yeah, I'm feeling good.' And she's like, 'Don't worry, it will go away - well I mean mine hasn't yet and my kid's 18, but...(shrugs shoulders).

27 April 2007

pregtastic podcasts and 3D fetuses

I just found this handy website for those of you who are down with pod-casting about all things pregnancy:

'A website and weekly podcast series by and for pregnant women. It's casual, informative and fun! Our weekly guests include, Lactation Specialists, Doulas, Pre and Postnatal Fitness Experts, Pediatricians, Massage Therapists, Family Financial Counselors'
Check it out here: www.pregtastic.com

Also, read this: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=68902
Parents can watch their developing fetus using 3D glasses! Watch the video below:

tori spelling's weight 'battle'

Poor Tori. Just after she's spent nine months creating new life, already people are talking about how fast she will drop the 40 pounds she 'packed on' (as if she is a footy player?!) over the pregnancy.

'Tori was dismayed to discover that after giving birth, the weight she gained during her pregnancy didn't just disappear. It wasn't water retention, as she wishfully hoped. So, being a take-charge kind of gal, she searched out a weight-loss program that would work for her and taste good -- yet also be safe while she is nursing the baby -- and discovered that NutriSystem® would fulfill her needs while fitting into her busy lifestyle, especially since the food is delivered directly to her door.'

It must be nice to have food delivered to your door....

You can read the whole story here and watch a video as well:

23 April 2007

ricki lake homebirth doco

Remember Ricki Lake? Gosh, how many afternoons of my primary school years were spent in front of the boob tube watching The Ricki Lake Show? Well, according to the Huffington Post, Ricki is premiering her documentary, On The Business of Being Born, at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film is inspired by her own very different birth experiences and even shows Lake birthing her son Owen in the tub. Here is a snippet of the interview:

Why did you want to produce this film?
I wanted to make this movie after my two very different birth experiences with my children. I felt like I had an opportunity to explore and question birthing practices in this country and perhaps be an advocate for mothers' rights and better maternity care

How did your personal birth experiences influence you?
After the birth of my sons, particularly my home birth with my second son, I thought I wanted to become a midwife. Then I looked at all the years of schooling and training that I would have to do and felt that the time could be better spent doing a documentary on the subject of birth.

How intimate does the film get?
I am naked at 195 pounds giving birth in my own bathtub. It can't get any more intimate than that!

Read the rest of the interview here:

Go Ricki! Go Ricki!

22 April 2007

booze alert for pregnant mums: safety measure or scare tactic?

As I was perusing my copy of the Sunday Age over breakfast this morning, I came across this article about the perils of drinking in pregnancy which is, as anyone who has ever had a baby will know, is not a new concern. According to new guidelines set out by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), warning labels will be placed on bottles to alert pregnant women to the risks of drinking for the fetus. You can read the whole article here: http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/booze-alert-for-pregnant-mums/2007/04/21/1176697155273.html

I have very mixed feelings about this. I've never been pregnant so I don't know how it feels to negotiate the mixed messages pregnant women are given with regard to making lifestyle decisions such as whether to have a glass of wine or to participate in any 'risky' behaviour. In America, alcohol bottles have the warning shown in the picture above. I was particularly captivated by the label this year over Christmas dinner with my parents. On some level, I felt like the label was another blatant privileging of fetal rights over mother's rights. I think for the most part, women are generally aware that drinking significant amounts of alcohol in pregnancy can interfere with the development of a fetus. Maybe I am being naive, but how many women really have no sense at all that alcohol is potentially dangerous during pregnancy? I think that some of the 'risk' management in pregnancy often positions women as passive dupes; that the government needs to tell women what to do in order to protect unborn babies from their irresponsible mothers. It just rubs me the wrong way. Whilst perhaps a positive step in educating women in pregnancy, I think this issue is more closely tied to issues of fetal rights. What bothers me is that the government and/or cultural institutions are so worried about women causing harm to their fetuses by drinking alcohol, no one seems to care about women who are actually addicted to alcohol? The health of the woman in this case is totally neglected in favour of the baby. Warning labels aren't being placed on alcohol bottles for the general population; they are being placed on bottles because fetal lives are 'at risk'. Although pregnancy involves certain ethical obligations, it is legally and politically problematic to assume that a woman must sacrifice her self-sovereignty for public interest even if we do not condone her lifestyle choices during pregnancy. As a consequence of such protracted and divisive political feuds surrounding fetal rights, pregnant women are increasingly perceived as merely ‘uterine environments’ and their bodies are policed as sites for ‘public inspection’ (Duden 1999: 24).
Why do fetal rights matter for women?
For many people, it is hard to deny that pregnant women do have certain responsibilities to the unborn; however, the institutionalised social and medical management of pregnancy as an experience to be had in the public is extremely problematic. The privileging of fetal rights potentially encourages the subordination of women’s reproductive rights in protecting the survival of the fetus at all costs. On the other hand, not recognising fetal identity may alienate many women who do see fetuses as babies.
Women experience their relationship to the politics of fetal rights differently on the basis of class, race, sexuality and religious or cultural background. For example, the rules of self-sacrifice in pregnancy (like not drinking or smoking) are commonly seen as the inevitable path to motherhood for many middle-class women (i.e. it's just what you do. period.) In contrast, poor women or young mothers are seen as being ill-equipped to make responsible choices simply because they do not have the financial means or the experience/knowledge to defend themselves. In my view, the crux of the fetal rights debate rests in how women can be pregnant without sacrificing their rights as citizens.
I wrote a similar post about pregnancy and smoking:
Here are a few other articles on drinking in pregnancy from The Age today:
I am really interested in what you think about this issue. How have you made your choice about drinking alcohol in pregnancy? Have people in your life (or complete strangers) judged you for the choices you've made? Feel free to share your thoughts and I'll post them on the blog.

21 April 2007

post-baby body

At 34, I have four children. I stopped triathlon training when pregnant with my last baby. I have always been fit, and always put on between 15 and 28kilos for each pregnancy. I never cared so much about weight, I believed that I was the incubator for my baby and just let my body do what it needed. I was in the hospital coffee shop with a girlfriend and my baby one day after my last caserarian delivery, we were approached by a mother and her two teenage girls, the mother congratulated my girlfriend on the birth of her baby and I was asked when mine was due....it set the tone for comments over the next eight weeks. I was in a chemists shop and the pharmacist asked me when my baby was due - I was holding a week old baby!! I could be pushing my brand new baby at the shops and strangers would ask me how hard is it to be pregnant so quickly again....It sucked, I stopped counting those comments after I reveied 14 unsolicited nasty remarks from strangers. Nobody wants to be large after the birth of a baby, if supermodels get six weeks to get back into shape, can't I , an ordinary working class woman, with a career, study, home and children take just a little longer???? It is not women who put pressure on themselves, it is all of the jerks and thier dreadful rude comments. A sleep deprived new mother does not need to be told anything other than "you look wonderful, your baby is beautiful" etc. If you don't have anything nice to say....P.S. My latest baby is almost four months old and I am still a size twelve, I feel unfit and unattractive, I have veins, stretch marks and sagging breasts, I don't have time to dye my grey hair or apply eye cream, I also have four beautiful children and a wonderful husband who loves all of me, for my real body and the life that it has given. I will lose the weight, in the june mid semester break I will have more time to exercise and nurture myself, until then I am thankful for my health.

response to fat mum/fat baby

I was 35 when I finally became pregnant with my first child and grew 14kg during the course of my pregnancy. I didn't find the weight too problematic at first until I was noticeably bigger in my mirror at home. Having always been a relatively slim person I found it quite hard to see myself that way but I knew it was not in my best interest to worry about it. I was aware that stress was much more harmful to my unborn child than any weight I might put on (unless that weight was really excessive, which it didn't appear to be). I think being older did help me to set my priorities better and consider the health of my baby as paramount. My Obstetrician was very helpful and refused to weigh me at all throughout my whole pregnancy. He was aware of how seriously women felt about their weight and knew there were other ways to see if there were complications rather than weighing his mums to be. Early in my pregnancy at 14 weeks, a friend commented that at that stage my weight gain of 4kg was more than she had put on during her whole pregnancy. I pointed out that it was very likely I would have a larger baby than her 3 with her largest baby being only 5 1/2 pounds. Wasn't I right about that prediction. I felt my weight began to be a real issue when my very insensitive co-workers started in with comments. This was right around the same time as my mirror image seemed to change dramatically so I had already started to find it difficult to view my new body. My first one was by a Human Resources Manager (who certainly should have known better, even being male) who came up with "I knew it was you because I heard the waddle". The same day I received another insensitive comment with "Please don't hurt me I'll get out of your way". This was by a female who had a child already. Needless to say I was feeling quite upset that day but I moved on and tried not to think about it. I was realistic about my weight and didn't get on the scales too often or obsess about my diet. I did what I have always done and stuck to predominantly healthy food with occasional not so healthy snacks when I felt inclined. No guilt, no stress and therefore no harm to my unborn child. After my delivery the midwives were shocked that such a large baby (10lb 9oz, 4.8kg) came from such a compact stomach. Clearly they were not concerned about my weight gain. I was lucky (or not) after my delivery to be so stressed with trying to breast feed that I lost the weight plus an extra 4kg within 4 weeks of my delivery. Not the way to do it. I carry a bit more weight around now that my son is 2 1/2 but nothing too serious. 68kg at 5'7" is not that bad. My Obstetrician advises that my second child is likely to be even bigger. No doubt my weight the second time around (if it ever comes) will be even more. I consider it is the price I have paid for taking on the most important job there is in becoming a parent and I don't regret any of it.

radical ecofeminist does body image

Nice post from my mate Sazz:

Karen, 13 weeks

Hello! My name is Karen and I am currently 13 weeks pregnant with my third child. I must admit I have been a little concerned about pregnancy weight-gain this time around. My first child Chloe, who is now 4, was born 3 weeks early and weighed 6 pound. In total I put on 14 kilos whilst pregnant with her, however I only weighed 43kg just before I fell pregnant (I am only a small-built person). I never really got back to my pre-pregnancy weight as when Chloe was 4 months old I fell pregnant with my second child, Shannon. He was two weeks early and weighed only 5 1/2 pound. I think at the time of his birth I weighed 56kg. Although both babies were small and a couple of weeks early, having been induced due to a problem I have in late-term pregnancy, both were walking at around 9months old, and doing all that they should at the correct stages, or even before. I was extremely sick with my daughter, throughout the entire pregnancy, however I tried to eat as healthily and as much as I could. I think the reason Shannon was even smaller was that I was so busy running around after Chloe I didn't really have the time to look after myself as well as I was able to with Chloe.

Now I am pregnant with my third child. My weight before falling pregnant this time was 50kg, so yes, this time I am a little worried that I will weigh quite a bit more than I did with my other two children. I have been quite sick again with this pregnancy so far, and so have not been able to eat as much as I normally would. So far I have only gained 1kg. Also, I'm not as young as I was when I had Chloe and Shannon, being over 30 now, and have definately slackened off in the exercise department. I have been trying to go for a 30 minute walk at least three times a week. I didn't get any stretch marks with the last two children and am hoping it will be the same with this pregnancy - I have been religously applying Palmer's Cocoa Butter over my breasts, stomach, bum and thighs everyday!

But even though these thoughts do run through my head quite a bit, at the end of the day, all we really want is to have a healthy, happy baby. If this means putting up with a bit of weight gain, or a few stretch marks here and there, it's really all worth it in the end isn't it? I wouldn't say the same about the morning sickness (or afternoon, or evening, or even all bloody day sickness!!!) though. That is one thing I can really do without!

Kasey, 11 weeks

A great email from Kasey:

this is my second pregnancy I am 28. son is 4 and a half. Worked as exotic dancer for 7 years . worked till 3 months preg. put on 28kg. back at work 7 months after baby. still 12 kg heavier. men loved it. very feminine. i felt self concious. especially stretch marks on breasts. but i earnt well and provided a good quality of life for my son. Now 11 weeks preg. i am determined to limit weight gain through organic bio dynamic food and regular exercise as i am still 8 kg over original pre baby weight. My son was healthy 9pd and was crawling at 5 half moths walking at 7 half months. I ate a huge variety of foods to ensure i covered all nutrient needs but packed on the weight accordingly. All my friends are skinny while preg and after, but their babies are very slow developmentally. not walking or talking until 2 plus. i would rather eat a wholesome diet for my childs nutritional needs than jeopordise their development because of food restrictions related to vanity. 9 mon! ths on 9 months off. You cant compare a real human to heidi klum or angelina jolie. Jolie never looks happy anymore and is too slim. Hollywood actors are not viable archetypes for motherhood.

Bree, 22 years

Hi, I know I don't qualify for your research but I just wanted to say how much I relate to what You are talkin about. I'm a young mum (22 for first bub). I tried for the whole of my pregnancy not to put on weight because of what people might think. I never felt free to just enjoy it (enjoy the excuse to eat chocolate etc). After my baby girl was born I spent the next 12 months losing weight. I have now reached my goal weight (lost 20kgs), which makes me smaller than before I was pregnant. But, my husband and I are talking about another baby. My biggest issue with it is the weight... but no one else seems to understand why it such a big deal! Thanks for making this public!


Nicolle, 25 weeks


As an expectant mum of somewhere around 25 weeks, I was very interested to see your blog site.

Only last night my partner and I were debating about the evils of my finishing off the last easter egg (heck, Easter was 10 days earlier!) so late at night. The discussion arose from my recent expressions of astonishment at how my legs are turning into tree trunks and my once slender arms definitely deserve the term 'tuckshop lady' arms.

It has been difficult to determine what is eating too much or too little, even with all the nutritional information given, as I rarely played by the book pre-pregnancy and managed to stay a size 10 to 12 for the majority of my adult years.

I swear that I have been eating less junk food than pre-pregnancy as I have become aware of how important it is to eat healthy during pregnancy, although my eating has increased from two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half meals a day (isn't that kinda normal anyway?), I am surprised at just HOW MUCH weight/water retention/baby fat I am packing on.

I am not overly disturbed by it as I see it as the only time in my life to really have no excuse to not eat well, and figure it's a lady's lot in life to get another stretch mark or twenty (we all get them in our teen years anyway, what's the surprise?), but I do find myself wondering where 'the line' is. I am banking on 'Bio-Oil' living up to its reputation and claims as I religiously lather it on every night after a shower - this is not product placement although I will graciously accept any freebies for the name drop - ha!

I have recently sent baby bump shots taken around 22 weeks to my friends by email, and the one upside I hadn't even thought of until the replies started coming back was how fantastic my boobs are! Every cloud has a silver lining!

So I can only suggest to those expectant mums who are worried about their weight gain, eat well, moderate exercise (like, derr), embrace your womanhood, and on a really bad day, show the world your awesome cleavage! (See attached - Have I no shame?!)

Yvonne, 31

Hi Meredith

My name is Yvonne, I am 31 and the mother of 2 awesome boys. Bowen is 7 next week and Ayden will be 3 in June.

The posts on the baby bump blog yanked my heartstrings and I feel compelled to reply.

I have never been a fashionable person and I tend to ignore anything to do with anyone in entertainment and Hollywood. I don't really care that at full term they look like their bump is the size of half a basketball. All I cared about was having some healthy kids and being a healthy Mum.

I watched my diet to a point and tried to cut down on all the bad foods. Yet with both kids I was humungous. People would stop me in the street constantly..... all starry eyed, to ask me how many I was having. When I smiled and replied "Just one" they would look at my bump, shake their heads, look at me and with worried faces.... ask me if I was sure.

By 6 months, the funny had worn off and the panic set in. Was I too big? The doctors said I was about 1kg over weight but I am also only 5'1. Still the looks and the comments cut me to the bone and I started eating less and less. I even drilled the poor woman who did my ultrasounds to make sure there wasn't another baby hiding under the one she could see. People had convinced me there was either another foetus in there.... or a baby elephant.

And even though my family assured me that all was well and that I wasn't getting "fat", I worried myself sick. All the baby clothes we were getting were no smaller than size 0. I realised that even by cutting down my food, I was still getting bigger and starving myself and my baby of the food we needed.

Both pregnancies were hard physically. I'm not a touchy type person, so getting used to having my tummy rubbed took getting used too. And the comments on my size used to bring me to tears every day. I started to feel I was a terrible mother before the kids were even born. I had let myself become this walking hippo.

Imagine my surprise when Bowen was born naturally and weighed 6 pound 2 ounces. I was astonished. I actually asked the midwife "where's the rest of him?". For the life of me I couldn't figure out how a belly that big had equated to a baby so small. My family were gobsmacked at this tiny creature. My husband and I joked that we installed an olympic swimming pool for the kids comfort :)

I was on my feet the next morning putting on the clothes my husband had brought from home. I got so angry when I did my jeans up and they slid off my hips. I assumed he had accidentally grabbed the "preggers" jeans in his haste. When I checked the tag..... it was a pair I hadn't worn for years. I weighed less than before I had fallen pregnant.

No one has yet really explained to me why I got so big and had such a small child. And now as we contemplate a third child.... I can smile. I am a mother. I have hips, a bum, a flabby baby belly that just won't budge and some corker stretch marks. My boys have laid beside me and counted them. And when their tiny hands caress those soft scars my heart melts, they were worth every single one of them. I wear my stretch marks with pride. Each one is a mark of my rite of passage to me. And I look forward to the new ones that this third child will add.

And next time.... I'm printing up some T-shirts that say "Swimming Pool Under Construction" in the hope that some strangers might curb their tongues. Being pregnant is stressful enough without worrying about weight gain. If the baby and the mother are well and happy.... who cares how big or small they are.

Sorry it's so long. I got carried away. I have enclosed a picture of me at 6 months with Bowen and 7 months with Ayden. I hope the pictures are acceptable to use.

Yvonne Parsons

19 April 2007

reader feedback

Considering the absolutely staggeringly positive response to the blog I have had in the last few days, I thought I would share some of the interesting emails/comments I have received from women from all across Australia who watched the Today show segment. I am completely overwhelmed and honoured that so many of you have taken the time to share your story with me. I have never felt like this is only my research'; this is well and truly our research and it is a privilege to know that so many of you feel like this project is interesting and will be of great benefit to pregnant women around the world. Thanks! Here is a sample of some of your thoughts:

This email entitled 'Body function v. Body image' is from Nicola:

Look: I am confused. There is this dichotomy currently that leaves me feeling dizzy. It seems that having a family is GOOD. Having the body and face that are a result of having said family is BAD. Having babies is GOOD. Having a body that looks like it has had babies is BAD. Being mature enough to have a career and a family is GOOD. Being mature enough to look like you are living a career and a family is BAD. Being mistaken for your daughters' older sister is GOOD. Being mistaken for your daughters' nanna is BAD.Having the body of an infertile pre-pubescent girl is GOOD. Having the body of a fertile, mature woman is BAD. Is it just me, or are we placing unreal expectations upon ourselves. How much are we supposed to expect from ourselves; shouldn't we be assessing the damage of putting the standard TOO high for real people to live up to? Personally, I don't feel compelled to single-handedly support the cosmetics, fashion, and exercise industries. I feel that glamour belongs with the entertainment industry; in fact I believe that glamour is fantasy.

Interesting points, indeed. As I have been talking to women throughout pregnancy and post-birth one of the most poignant aspects of the transition from pregnancy to post-birth is invariably the changed relationship women have with their bodies. Whereas your body was once 'your own' pre-pregnancy, at the moment of conception you are sharing your body with something/someone else (depending on when you believe 'life' begins). Many women have expressed to me that they feel like their body becomes functional particularly post-birth when breasts become tools for feeding a child and not necessarily the sexualised objects of culture that they were before.

How do/did you feel about your body during pregnancy/post-birth? How does your relationship with your body change when have a baby?

fat mum, fat baby?

In my neverending quest to bring you the latest in pregnancy news (and always with a critical eye), I thought you might be interested in hearing about the latest study from the April issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggesting that pregnant women who gain the recommended amount of weight set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) are at risk of having 'fat' babies. Now, not only are women apparently 'at risk' for having overweight babies if they exceed the guidelines based on their body mass index (BMI), women are actually being encouraged to gain the least amount of weight possible during pregnancy. I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about how weight gain guidelines in pregnancy have changed over the years and how this new study can be potentially damaging to the self-esteem and body image concerns of new mothers.

Maternal obesity has been major concern of doctors not only because of the risk of ‘postpartum obesity’ but also for a long list of undesirable medical risks to the unborn child and as a predictor of impending toxaemia.[1] In the 19th century, maternal weight gain was of considerable concern primarily for fear of difficult delivery of large babies, particularly during a time when maternal mortality was high and cesarean deliveries were a last and not entirely safe alternative. Accordingly, the first study exploring maternal weight gain was published in 1901 showing that reduced intake during pregnancy resulted in lower birth weights.[2] Successive studies following the publication of this first report placed increasing emphasis on weight gain and doctors began to closely document weight to reduce risk to the fetus.[3] By the 1930s, pregnant women were urged to reduce their intake of salt and to gain no more than 6.8kg and consequently, low maternal weight gains were recorded up until World War II.[4]

In the 1950s and 1960s, several studies of gestational weight and pregnancy nutrition were conducted and concluded that high pregnancy weight invariably led to high birth weights.[5] The authoritative American medical textbook, Williams Obstetrics advised in 1966,

Excessive weight gain in pregnancy is highly undesirable for several reasons; it is essential to curtain the increment in gain to 25lb (12.5kg) at most or preferably 15lb (6.8kg). The experienced obstetrician is convinced of the complications, both major and minor, caused by excessive weight gain in pregnancy. Although restriction of the gain in weight to 20lb (9.1kg) may be difficult in man cases, requiring careful dietary control and discipline, it
is a highly desirable objective.

Many medical textbooks established the same guidelines at the time; earlier editions recommending more stringent regulations of weight gain. It was not until the 1970s that the recommended range of pregnancy weight gain was raised to account for pre-pregnancy weight; women who were considered to be underweight pre-pregnancy were allowed to gain more than women of ‘normal weight’, between 12 and 14kg. Following the new recommendations, infant birth weight and pregnancy weight gain both steadily rose.[7] By 1976, women were encouraged to be liberal with their intake during pregnancy to a total of 2,400 kcalper day. Whilst the recommended amount of kilojoules during pregnancy was steadily on the rise by 1974, ironically it was during the 1950s that the daily allowance of kilojoules was the highest at 2700kcal per day at a time when women were encouraged to restrict their weight gain the most.[8]

Recommended maternal weight gain nearly doubled from the 1930s to the 1980s and the strict surveillance of weight gain also became slightly less stringent. Weight ranges were reassessed again in 1990 to confirm not only the target ranges for maternal weight gain but also to base those amounts on each women’s body mass index (BMI = kg/m2), a measure of body ‘fat’ based on height and weight. Scientists have had to account for the fact that in the past twenty years, 'Western' women (Australia, America, UK) have become much taller and heavier, affecting pregnancy outcomes.

In accounting for ‘body mass’ or pre-pregnancy body ‘fat’, the new guidelines allow for women with a ‘normal’ body mass to gain between 11.5 and 16kg. According to the 1990 Institute of Medicine (IOM) regulations, women with a lower BMI are permitted to gain up to 18kg and women with a higher BMI can gain 11.5kg at the most. However, the issue of maternal weight gain is still quite controversial. In a review of studies of pregnancy weight gain over the last 50 years, Abrams et al conclude that there is ‘no evidence supporting the concept that routine weighing of pregnant women should be discontinued or that restricting weight gain in normal pregnancy is either safe or beneficial’.[9] Abrams et al also suggest that even though recommended weight gain ranges have become more liberal as has clinical surveillance of maternal weight gain, women are still not gaining weight within the IOM ranges most likely as a result of weight and body image issues.[10]

With this in mind, it is fairly horrifying to me to think that given that the IOM ranges are already quite narrow and more than 10 years old, rather than making the guidelines more liberal to account for body image issues in pregnancy, women are being encouraged to consume less and monitor their weight more closely during pregnancy. It's not hard to see why the cult of the skinny pregnancy is overwhelming first time mothers and potentially putting young women off motherhood who are scared to death that their bodies will be 'damaged' forever.

More information on the new study is available here:

[1] John W.C. Johnson and Michael K. Yancey, ‘A critique of the new recommendations for weight gain in pregnancy’, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol.174, no.1, 1996, 254-8.
[2] L.Prochownick, ‘Ueber Ernahrungscuren in der Schwangerschaft’, Ther. Monatsch, vol.15, 1901, 446-63.
[3] See also C.H. Davis, ‘Weight in pregnancy; its value as a routine test’, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol.6, 1923, 575-81.
[4] National Academy, Historical Trends, 38; A.W. Bingham, ‘The prevention of obstetric complications by diet and exercise’, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol.23, 1932, 38-44.
[5] N.J. Eastman and E.Jackson, ‘Weight relationships in pregnancy: The bearing of maternal weight gain and pre-pregnancy weight on birth weight in full-term pregnancies’, Obstet. Gynecol. Surv. Vol.23, 1968, 1003-25; R.C. Humphreys, ‘An analysis of the maternal and foetal weight factors in normal pregnancy’, Journal of Obstetrics and Gyecology, British Commonwealth, vol.61, 1954, 765-71.
[6] N. Eastman and L. Hellman, Williams Obstetrics, 13th ed., New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1966, 326.
[7] Barbara Abrams, Sarah L. Altman and Kate E. Pickett, ‘Pregnant weight gain: still controversial’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol.71, 2000, 1233S-41S.
[8] National Academy, Historical Trends, 40.
[9] Abrams et al, ‘Pregnancy weight gain’, 1240S
[10] Ibid

18 April 2007


Well, the Today show was a hit and I hope some of you had a chance to see my spot. The show put up a really great article about the research:

I'll hopefully have some video to post soon. For any new readers, I invite you to send me photos of yourself pregnant and post-baby in order to celebrate what 'real' mothers look like. I'll post them on the blog so we can share and compare (and not be judgmental!). If you would like to share your own experiences of having a 'bump' with other mums-to-be and mums-already, email your story to me on babybumpproject[at]yahoo.com.au and I will post your message for others mums to read and learn.

Feel free to include any handy hints for coping with the pressure (body or otherwise). Make sure to include images of your bump or your body during pregnancy or postbaby so we can all share in how everyday mums look and feel. If you have a Flickr account, join our group The Baby Bump Project and post yourself in the Bump Gallery (otherwise send me your images and I can post them for you).

16 April 2007

Today show rescheduled

So for any of you that were wondering where I was this morning, my segment has been bumped up to Wednesday of this week at 8:10am on Channel 9. Apparently, the breakup of Prince William and Kate Middleton took precedence ;-)

13 April 2007

australian homebirth

There was an interesting debate sparked about Australian homebirth on Sunrise (Channel 7) last week and, as a result, Marie Claire (the women's mag) has developed a forum for readers to leave comments about homebirth and their experiences thereof. I imagine all of these comments will develop into some sort of article for a forthcoming issue.

This is the description from Marie Claire's website:
"The UK government has recently announced plans to encourage more women to have home births, saying that expectant mothers should have greater choices over where they give birth. The proposal has been welcomed by midwives, but met with concern by some groups who say there are safety issues involved. In Australia, about one per cent of all babies are delivered in home births. The issue was debated by Channel Seven's Sunrise panel, which included marie claire editor Jackie Frank".

Post your thoughts on the Marie Claire website:

look who's on TODAY!

Pretend this a conversation between the two of us:

Me: Hey! Guess what?
You: What?
Me: You'll never believe what I'm doing this Monday?
You: Tell me!
Me: I'm going to be on the Today show talking about The Baby Bump Project.
You: No way!
Me: Way!
You: What time?
Me: Around 8:10
You: What channel?
Me: Channel 9!

That was blatant self-promotion for my next Australian media appearance. For those of you who want to actually hear my voice, make sure to tune in on Monday for a segment about fatness and body image in pregnancy! I'll be sure to post it on YouTube for anyone that misses it!

11 April 2007

new elective caesar policy

This article is causing some profoundly mixed emotions for me. On one hand, it's truly fantastic that the NSW government (that's New South Wales, the most populous state of Australia for non-Australian readers) has acknowledged that not only is the rate of elective caesareans increasing but that it is also possibly endangering the lives of women who are uneducated about the procedure.

However, I have strong feelings about taking women's responsibility for their own bodies away from them and giving control over to the government to decide what is best for birth. Clearly, major abdominal surgery is a significant leap from vaginal delivery but is it really fair to insist that women must not have a technologised or interventionist birth if that is what they really want? Sure, some of you might say 'Well, how does she know what she wants if she doesn't know the risks?' That goes without saying but adult decision making is kind of like that. We make decisions about lots of things without knowing all of the associated risks. With birth, it seems like everyone seems to know what's best for pregnant women except women themselves.

We dont have to agree with the choices other women make but I think we need to respect them. I might not choose to have an elective caesar but I don't think my choice not to have one should prevent another woman from having one if that is what she feels comfortable doing. I think it would be a completely different story if for instance, the NSW government decided to ban women from having pain-reducing drugs during labour because pain relief is non-surgical. All of the most common pain killing drugs have side effects and there is plenty of research to support that. Hell, epidurals are injected into the spine. That's a major risk; but women who want to have less pain in labour should never be forced to 'suffer' needlessly and many women are willing to take a risk to be comfortable. I think this is the same issue. Maybe it seems a little strange to some of us that a woman would rather have surgery than give birth vaginally but in my own work, I have interviewed a number of women who have had elective caesars for various reasons. Fear of pain is a primary reason and who can really fault them for that? It's not my place to do so and it's not the government's place either. Women need to make up their own minds about how they have their babies. Caesareans should remain an 'option' because women should have every opportunity available to them to have a comfortable birth and if that means being cut open, who am I to judge?

Caesars can either serve or impair women's agency not so much by the inherent character of the procedure (in terms of obvious physical risks), but in how the politics surrounding elective caesareans coalesces with the needs of variously situated women (economically and politically and also varying by race, class, and sexuality). What is 'good' for some women is not necessarily appropriate for all women.

NSW hospitals move to block caesarean option
7 April 2007, The Age

WOMEN will not be allowed to insist on caesarean deliveries in NSW public hospitals without a medical reason, under a new health department policy. Under the new rules, women must be told in detail about "the benefits and risks of caesarean section compared with vaginal birth specific to the woman and her pregnancy". The policy cites a US study of more than 5 million births, which found that babies born by medically unnecessary caesarean were three times as likely to die in the newborn period as those born vaginally.The new policy also obliges health professionals to advise women about the implications for subsequent pregnancies. A 2005 study of 136,000 second pregnancies across NSW found those women who had had a caesarean first delivery were at much greater danger of a ruptured uterus, hysterectomy orinfection, while their babies were more likely to be premature, have serious breathing problems or need intensive care. Elective caesareans have increased by 25 per cent since 2001, and now account for one in six births. Many of these are for medical reasons, but doctors say more women are opting for caesareans from preference. Andrew Child, a member of the NSW Health Maternal and Perinatal Committee,which drafted the directive, said that while first caesareans were generally safe, dangers escalated steeply with subsequent births. Hannah Dahlen, secretary of the NSW Midwives Association, said: "People are... thinking of it as just another option for birth, rather than major abdominal surgery."JULIE ROBOTHAM

08 April 2007

evening out my karma

It's funny, just when you think the whole world is against you, one little email change your outlook. My good friend and colleague from Melbourne Uni, Sarah Langford, also a PhD student and self-proclaimed radical feminist and empowered birth activist sent along this encouraging comment to turn around my karma and it couldn't have come at a better time. You can read all about Sazz's work on her website http://sazzlangford.tripod.com/index.html or check out her blog http://www.sazziesblog.blogspot.com/

Great reply Meredith. I also liked your last entry about that television show, and if you were at all angry I felt it was justified. I really love your willingness to shout down the misogynistic culture we live in which decrees pregnancy, breastfeed and all things relating to the female body as unattractive. We desperately need more feminist voices out there that are prepared to celebrate wimmin's bodies.

And just personally I wouldn't mind a federal mandate ;) (At the very least it would send a strong message to the public about how important breastfeeding is) No. In all seriousness, I think more support for breastfeeding is always great, so that those wimmin who can breastfeed get as much encouragement and help as they need to fully enjoy what I've heard is an incredible (exclusively female) experience. And so that more wimmin who might otherwise have decided against it, give it a go.

I think you summarised the issue beautifully when you wrote:

"After all of the hard work that lactation organisations do in trying to promote breastfeeding as a positive and healthy experience, network television has to mess it all up. Sure, breastfeeding is not the most positive experience for all women (obviously) but the suggestion that even the idea of feeding a child should turn someone off of parenthood is such an unbelievably irresponsible notion to plant into women's minds."

(one wonders if your aggressive reader who replied actually read this section, as you clearly state that breastfeeding is not all smiles and sunshine for all wimmin).

And you're right, the last thing our society needs is more breastfeeding bashing from popular culure. It is indeed irresponsible of that television show to reduce such an important, complex, exclusively female, challenging, and rewarding experience to a joke about wimmin's desirability for men *rolls eyes*

Incidentally for World Breastfeeding Week last year I wrote a blog entry about the importance of breastfeeding, and the most interesting text I read when writing it was Sheila Kitzinger's "The Politics of Birth". She spoke about the sexualisation of wimmin's breasts, and how she believed part of society's level of discomfort or disgust in breastfeeding is tied to the idea that breasts are supposed to be the sexual property of men, not the food sources of babies. I thus entitled my blog entry "World Breastfeeding Week: Take Back the Breast" http://sazziesblog.blogspot.com/2006/07/world-breastfeeding-week-take-back.html

See:Kitzinger, Sheila, The Politics of Birth, Elsevier, Edinburgh, 2005, pp.33-43.

thanks to people like you.

I just wanted to take a moment to share a comment that I received from my last post from a thoughtful (*tongue planted firmly in cheek*) reader who had this to say to me and didn't even have the courage to add her name to the comment. As the writer of this blog, I guess that also gives me the right to freely comment in response. Don't get me wrong, I love a bit of fiery dialogue (and constructive criticism or disagreement is always welcome) but just remember this is a personal website so everything you write can and will be used against you (*smiles wryly*) and I will most definitely publish your angry words (because apparently I am pretty angry, so that's what angry people do).

"you sound angry. like just angry. like you're just an angry person. breastfeeding is entirely an individual experience. what do you wanna do? have the gov't promote nursing like it's a federal mandate. you don't understand that your words only serve to make people that don't choose to nurse feel bad about themselves. maybe you need that to feel better about yourself(?) sort of pathetic".

Whoa. Slowly step away from the computer. Take a deep breath. This is just a blog and I was just writing about a TV show....

You know what? Let's get a few things straight, my dear writer of such an angry comment.

Things I am not/don't have/never been:
1) I dont have kids. I've never been pregnant, don't plan on being pregnant any time soon.
2) I have never professed to be the superior knower of all that is parenthood, motherhood, pregnancy or anything of the sort because clearly I am not and never have been any of the above (yet).

Things I am/have/do:
1) A researcher that has done EXTENSIVE work with pregnant women, mothers, fathers, maternity designers and most people in the maternity industry in America and Australia.
2) I have a blog to share my thoughts about pregnancy, breastfeeding, motherhood, and their relationships to popular culture (as well as your thoughts too) to create a free and open dialogue with other women in this world and to celebrate (note: CELEBRATE) birthing bodies.
3) My work has been published in a number of highly respected academic journals, textbooks, and feminist collections as well as in non-academic contexts including newspapers, magazines, and websites. Why? Because I know what I'm talking about and people respect my work (just not you, apparently).

Now, if you go back to my post (and any post of similar ilk), dear reader, I have never endeavoured to judge any woman's mothering practices. In fact, I always preface my comments to necessitate the fact that no experience of pregnancy, motherhood, or even BREASTFEEDING is identical. Of course, every woman in the world is under no obligation to breastfeed and should not feel guilty or inadequate if she can't or chooses not to. I think this would be fairly obvious to regular readers of this blog. I have a tremendous respect for mothers. I've done more than 200 interviews with mothers in the last year. I'm writing a book about mothers. Hell, I even have a mother of my own. And you know what else? I know how hard breastfeeding is for some women and how easy it is for others. Not because I've experienced it (we've already been through that) but because I've witnessed it, heard a diverse range of experiences from women all over the world and read more about breastfeeding in just the last month than you have probably read books in your entire lifetime. Sorry, that was just mean (but then again, I am an angry, angry person).

This is the point. We disagree. I never said the American government should promote breastfeeding 'like it's a federal mandate'. Actually, what I said was that the tired old stereotype of breastfeeding as dirty or disgusting or body damaging that is constantly renewed in the media and on network television is irresponsible. It is. Period. Now, I dont mean to get personal but from your comment I tend to think that you are one of those women that chooses not to breastfeed. That's perfectly fine with me (and it doesn't matter what any one else thinks). What you do is your business and I'm not judging you. But to call me pathetic for speaking my mind is just a reflection of how insecure you are with yourself and with other women's life choices. If you can't handle someone standing up for the positive imaging of breastfeeding (even if you don't bf yourself), then as Freud would say, I think you've got issues.

Maybe you woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. Maybe there was no skinny milk left for your cornflakes. Maybe you feel lonely sitting at your computer at 11pm somewhere in America and are pisssed off with life so you thought you should tell me how 'pathetic' I am. Maybe you, yes YOU, are an angry person, 'like just angry'. Next time you want to post a comment here, sign your name and own your words. Why should I take you seriously if you have to hide? You know who I am. I've got nothing to hide. So bring on your blogger-hating mumbo jumbo because I miss writing angry (because I'm an angry person, remember?) posts because 99.9% of the emails and comments I receive are positive, heart-warming, and glorious in more ways than you could ever understand. And would you believe it? I actually have a waiting list of pregnant women/mothers who want to give me the privilege of interviewing them so they can share their amazingly INDIVIDUAL and UNIQUE stories. So I must be doing something right.

Before I sign off, perhaps you might like to find a synonym for 'angry' for your next comment. I was slightly disappointed that you used the same word three times. Fuming? Irate? Livid? Incensed? Outraged? Heated? Or maybe my personal favourite...CROSS.

You asked for it.

and another thing..

Yeah, and just how freaking responsible is it for this ridiculous show to say that 'Breastfeeding wrecked my boobs'?...After all of the hard work that lactation organisations do in trying to promote breastfeeding as a positive and healthy experience, network television has to mess it all up. Sure, breastfeeding is not the most positive experience for all women (obviously) but the suggestion that even the idea of feeding a child should turn someone off of parenthood is such an unbelievably irresponsible notion to plant into women's minds. This is why America and Australia have such high caesarean rates, for example. Popular culture paints a pretty nasty picture of pregnancy, birth and motherhood masked by weak attempts at humour but so powerful that young women actually start to believe it. I dont think we can take popular culture seriously enough! The media is extremely important for the fashioning of our cultural ideals.
I was perving on some clips of the show on You Tube (just type in 'Notes from the Underbelly' and you can find them all) and found this abhorrent and thoroughly annoying boob clip which I felt compelled to share.

07 April 2007

you have got to be kidding.

Seriously, I need to stop having these 'only in America' moments. Apparently, the ABC (an American network) is premiering a new mid-season replacement television series (12 April) called 'Notes from the Underbelly'. This is a show aiming for a humourous take on the 'politics of pregnancy' as a young couple (Andrew and Lauren) have just found out they are pregnant and can't keep it a secret in the first episode. On the official series webpage, it notes that Andrew will be narrating the episode "giving his wry and often sarcastic interpretation of the events that are going on around him". Isn't that interesting how the man gets to tell the pregnancy story? I mean how many more times do we need to hear just how 'hard' it is for men to 'deal' with their pregnant wives? Gosh guys, it's really pretty labour intensive for you to haul yourself to all of those o/b appointments (because god forbid, any network would even consider showing an alternative form of prenatal care) and laughing to yourself about your wife's cravings, mood swings and weight gain. Ha. ha. Ha. I mean are you the one who has to create new life at the same time you are carrying out your own? Is this really comedy? Saying that pregnancy is harder than parenthood is such an overblown and old stereotype. Keep it coming. It's like Blah blah.. Pregnancy is so hard. Men have it so tough...blah blah.. Women 'lose' their bodies forever. Andrew even "has to deal with the fact that (*shock* horror!!) Lauren may be getting stretch marks, but Andrew has to pretend that he doesn't notice them". Yeah because Im sure she is so insecure that all of her self-esteem is enmeshed in what her husband thinks of her pregnant body and if he even mentioned that he noticed a mark their entire relationship would be ruined. Kind of reminds me about the so often overplayed 'Do I look fat in this?'-woman-in a dressing room-with bored out of his mind boyfriend- who has to pander to his girlfriend's insecurity about her own looks. Boys, we can feel insecure all on our own without your help, thank you.

Can you believe this absolute crap? I'm sure the actress playing the pregnant part will have a nice little contained 'bump' strapped on to her waiflike Hollywood hyper-feminine figure and look perfect throughout the series. Im sure some hot designer maternity wear will be prominently displayed for all of the 'average' American mothers to look at and want to cry. And you know what the worst part about this whole show is? I actually want to watch it....but damn it, living in Australia we don't get anything until a freaking year after it airs so I will have to read the reviews and gently coax my mother in America into watching it for me...

Oh and just a random fact, the actor playing the character 'Eric' (Sunkrish Bala, the first guy in the picture from the left), another expectant father who is friends with Andrew, was also on Grey's Anatomy playing the one night stand that Meredith picks up at Joe's bar, only to find that he um..can't lose his excitement for her..literally...the next morning when he shows up to the hospital. I can't get that scene out of my head when I look at him now.

This is the website for the show:

06 April 2007


Yesterday, I did a 36 week interview with one of the women in my study who revealed that she is actually going to freebirth her second child after a few weeks of careful contemplation. Up until now, no one in my study has done this (although many have had beautiful home births) so I am very excited and thought I would share. Freebirthing, or unassisted birth, is often referred to as one of the most extreme rejections of the perceived 'overmedicalisation' of childbirth in 'Western' countries. For those that don't know much about this experience, proponents of freebirthing argue that women are the only people suited to deliver children into the world.

The woman I have been interviewing throughout her pregnancy had a fairly negative hospital experience with her first child and decided that her second birth would be positive and totally different. In hospital, she felt out of control, uneducated and at the mercy of doctors and midwives who were telling her what to do. In this second pregnancy, she hired a homebirth doctor to look after her and then a midwife to assist with the actual birth. However, after a few hypnobirthing classes which she and her partner found to be really empowering, they decided that they would birth the baby completely on their own at home in a pool. She said that the only reason she initially thought she should have someone there with her was because of the fear that something would go wrong with the birth; that she didnt trust herself even then though they just wanted the doctor and the midwife to stay in the shadows unless they were needed. However, she didn't feel comfortable holding on to the fear of what could happen considering she already made the leap to having the baby at home without any pain relief or intervention. Freebirthing has been a way for her to shake those last vestiges of anxiety. I have to say I really respect her courage in stepping so far outside of the square and making a decision that I think alot of women would love to do but are definitely too afraid to actually carry out.

Also, her 2yr old daughter is going to be present at the birth (or for as long as she can) and they are definitely going to proceed with a lotus birth (maintaining the connection between the placenta and the baby until the umbilical cord falls off on its own). She also mentioned that part of her plan is to eat some of the placenta to maintain and reinforce her connection to the new baby, freeze the rest of it and perhaps give some to the baby at a later date. I've heard of mothers eating the placenta before but on some level it also means that the body of the mother and baby are not so abruptly separated as soon as the baby is born. By keeping the placenta attached to the baby and then later actually ingesting a piece of the placenta, it's as if mother and child remain connected as one body (like in pregnancy) and later on with breastfeeding.

Laura Shanley has developed a really useful site about unassisted birth with lots of amazing photos, videos and birth stories. This is a must-see for anyone considering freebirthing!

This is a link to a great article about catching your own baby:

01 April 2007

skinny jean/skinny pregnancy

This is a great view from Liz Lange maternity wear. I posted about LL back in December when I was doing some research in New York. It just so happened that as I was flicking through the channels, I came upon a show about famous American business people and Liz was one of the panelists, revealing the secrets of her multi million dollar maternity fashion house. Now Liz Lange is bringing high fashion to the masses by dressing pregnant women across America in Target stores in a sort of democratisation of maternity wear. Now people that buy LL maternity wear from her stores know that high style does not come cheaply...until now. The pieces produced for Target stores (as you can see in the video) are beautifully presented, clean cut and sold at a much lower price point than in typical LL retail stores. However, in watching the video, I got the sense that although Lange is now dressing a wide range of American women, she still has the middle-upper class mother in mind. I mean Lange says 'Every baby needs to have these cashmere blankets...Hello? I can't afford cashmere for myself. How many women out there are actually splurging on luxury items for babies outside of NYC??

Also, in her ode to the 'skinny jean' at the start of the program, I kept thinking to myself, 'How many women do you see at Target buying skinny jeans even when they are not pregnant?' Surely, it's a good look for a pregnant model and if your legs don't change size because all of your weight gain is concentrated in one area. This just contributes to my theory about the cult of the skinny pregnancy (and this is especially prominent in NY and LA) where women can still be a size 0 even when they're pregnant.* Lange actually mentioned in the TV show I was watching in NY that they had to start making smaller sizes to cater to the 'petite' woman. I've actually been told of similar trends happening here in Melbourne by a few popular designers (such that certain high fashion, high fitness preggos are requiring their size 0s even during the pregnancy and are being forced to have certain items of clothing custom made as a result). Am I crazy? Does anyone think skinny jeans are just the slighest bit ridiculous when you are trying to grow another human being? Who wants to shove their body into denim (that is already uncomfortable when you're not pregnant) albeit 'skinny' leg denim after consistently putting on weight for 9 months?

It's like imprisonment for your bump. Women's bodies are forced to be contained enough just in normal life. Why corral the pregnant body into more restrictive clothing just because the rest of our culture is so freaked out by women taking up space (and that goes for overweight women as well)?

*In saying this, I'm not trying to say that all women need to gain heaps of weight in pregnancy in order to be 'real' pregnant women or to have an 'authentic' experience. Sure, there are women out there who don't gain much weight, are naturally a size 0 and have nothing to be ashamed of. That's fine, more power to them. I'm making a statement about the majority of the women in the world who are on average a size 12-14 even before they are pregnant and who haven't worn skinny jeans since the 7th grade (and even then, it wasn't really a good look).

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The Baby Bump Project by Meredith Nash is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.