Motherhood

I Thought I’d Accepted My Body. Then I Got Pregnant.

I Thought I'd Accepted My Body. Then I Got Pregnant.

When you’re a chubby kid who grows into a fat woman, you get one message early and often…

Your body doesn’t work right. I learned that from playground jerks, dismayed Weight Watchers coaches, the entire clothing retail industry. When I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome at 14, it wasn’t a surprise; it just affirmed the message I got every day: Your body is not normal. I spent most of my life trying to “normalize” it through non-stop diet cycling, obsessive exercise and good old-fashioned disordered eating — until my late 20s when it finally occurred to me that diets (or what we now call lifestyles) didn’t work, and neither did self-loathing. I then did years of diet deprogramming with intuitive eating, and slowly learned to accept food as food and my body as my body. That didn’t mean I woke up every day cooing to my cellulite and weeping at my own astounding beauty. For me, body positivity meant digging my body on some days and sometimes feeling insecure about it — but walking out the door and living my life, regardless. It meant unconditionally accepting this body as is: hazel eyes, soft belly, wonky ovaries, the whole shebang.

Still, when my husband and I decided, at 35, to try to have a child, I was prepared to accept that my body couldn’t do it. I assumed it would take many months, medical specialists and plenty of scientific intervention. I readied myself to fight doctors refusing to treat me unless I got to a certain BMI (which happens, a lot). And of course there would be miscarriages and serious complications, if I could get pregnant at all. I believed all this simply because, body positive or not, I was used to the idea that my body didn’t work.

I assumed this would be my self-acceptance Everest, and thus I was frankly stunned when I got pregnant right away, without even leaving the house.

Kelsey Miller pregnancy body acceptance photos

I spent the first few months in a similar state of shock, when each prenatal test and checkup confirmed everything looked (knock wood) a-okay. With every normal vital sign and lab result, I grilled my doctors, like a hardboiled detective:

“But I’m high-risk, right?”

“Only on paper,” my doctor said, shaking her head. I’d turned 35 at about four weeks pregnant. “You’re pretty young for this practice.”

“But I have PCOS.”

“That’s not really an issue once you’re pregnant.”

“But, my weight?”

“It doesn’t automatically make you high-risk. As long as your nutrition is good and your labs are normal, you’re fine.”

All I had to do was take care of myself, avoid undercooked meat and keep growing. And I did. Hormonal bloating puffed up my face, and my tummy began to stretch forward. But five months in I still didn’t really look pregnant. I just looked like a bigger version of myself.

Kelsey Miller pregnancy body acceptance photos

This, as it turned out, was the real body acceptance challenge. Pregnancy doesn’t typically look the same on plus-size bodies as it does on thinner ones. I probably would have realized that had I ever seen photos of a pregnant plus-size person in media, advertising or on any of the zillion pregnancy apps I’d downloaded. I found a message board for plus-size parents-to-be on one of them, and it was full of questions and fears: “Will I be able to feel my baby move?” “Will I be need to have a C-section?” “Am I ever going to have D-belly or will I always have a B-belly?”

The B-belly is a hot topic among plus-size pregnant folks, because most of us have it (some non-plus folks do, too): It happens when you have a natural indent at your waistline, rather than flat abs, so your pregnant belly ends up looking more like a capital-B versus a capital-D — the hallmark symbol of pregnancy. People on the board shared their favorite outfits and shapewear products to make their bellies look more D-shaped. At first it struck me as sad, seeing so many people stressing over something aesthetic. But of course, it was understandable — and of course, I was stressing over it, too. The larger my body grew, the more self-conscious I became, especially when I left the house.

It takes work to maintain self-acceptance in a society that would rather you be thinner. It’s even trickier in a world where every Instagram commenter is your doctor: No girl, it’s not about your appearance! We’re just worried about your health! Your joints, your poor internal organs! I was around a size 18 before pregnancy, and I’d dealt with my share of this concern trolling. But the bigger you are, the more overt and extreme it is. Among other things, research indicates larger-bodied people are more likely to be convicted in court, are paid up to $19,000 less than their thin counterparts, and receive less financial support for education. Of course, this is all compounded by other prejudices like racism, ableism, etc. — and as a white, able-bodied, size-18 woman, I hadn’t had it nearly as bad as most.

Kelsey Miller pregnancy body acceptance photos

But things did change as my body got bigger, while still not looking obviously pregnant. Side-eyes turned into head-on stares and head-shaking. Strangers didn’t hide their annoyance at having to step a few inches over to make a space for me over on the subway. And obviously, no one was giving me their seat. They didn’t see a droopy pregnant lady coming home from the gym. They saw a fat woman, probably winded from her daily walk to the donut shop.

The bigger I got, the angrier the world seemed. I was torn: Part of me really wanted people to know I was pregnant. But part of me worried about what they’d say if they did. As anyone who’s been pregnant knows, normal social behavior goes out the window upon sight of a pregnant woman. It’s suddenly normal to reach out and rub a co-worker’s belly, and many people feel compelled to make appraisals of its size: But you’re SO big! Sure it’s not twins?! That’s bad enough — but when you’re plus-sized, there’s a distinct change in tone. I’d seen how nosy strangers (and all those Instagram doctors) instantly turned into obstetricians, wringing their hands over your surely distressed baby and diagnosing you with gestational diabetes on sight. I’d heard horror stories about hospital staff calling in children’s services to speak with fat parents after birth, presuming them to be unfit. I wish I could’ve brushed it off as rumor, but I’d read the research: Providers generally do make such assumptions about people of a certain size. I often thought of one particularly grim finding from a study on anti-fat bias: 24% of nurses surveyed said they were “repulsed” by obese patients.

I’m normally able to roll my eyes at randos speculating on my health, but now I felt utterly vulnerable. It was hard enough wrestling with own anxieties — the kind I’m sure a first-time pregnant woman of any size has — without assuaging everyone else’s judgment.

So, I resorted to hiding. I bought two enormous tent-style dresses — which were cute and comfortable, but which also obscured 80% of my body, allowing me to essentially hide in public and sidestep all potential commentary. I wore them almost every single day for months. I wasn’t accepting my body so much as pretending I didn’t have one. But at around six months into my pregnancy, something changed. My belly, though still B-shaped, began to poke out in a more obvious way. The faint little fish-like movements I felt inside it became kicks and turns. Inside my body was another, and it was growing strong.

Kelsey Miller pregnancy body acceptance photos

Little by little, it began to sink in that my body and I were doing just fine. After so many years grappling with the belief that it could do nothing right — nothing a “normal” body could do — my body had shown up for me in the biggest way. Maybe I ought to show up for it, and for the little creature we were making. I decided one day to opt out of the tent dresses and try on something a little more fitted, with an empire waist — something that actually highlighted my middle and made it look even bigger. Looking in the mirror, I still didn’t know if it looked pregnant or simply big. Would others know? No way to tell.

I stepped outside into a not-yet-too-hot summer day and headed toward the subway, deciding to walk to a farther stop. I got to the station and hopped onto the busy train, hot and flushed from the long walk. Grabbing the subway pole, I looked around to see if someone would hop up and give their seat to the overheated pregnant lady.

Nope!

I looked at my reflection in the glass train door as we rode through tunnel. I honestly didn’t know if the seated passengers didn’t know I was pregnant or just didn’t care. And for the first time, I didn’t care either! Whether they couldn’t tell, couldn’t be bothered, or were just too busy on their phones, I wasn’t worried about what other people were or weren’t thinking. I was fine.

And that was almost as great as getting a seat on the subway.

Kelsey Miller pregnancy body acceptance photos

Thank you, Kelsey. How lucky your baby is to have a mother like you.

P.S. What contractions feel like, and a motherhood mantra. Plus, more on body acceptance: “My boyfriend weighs less than I do,” intuitive eating, and a plus-size yoga teacher’s beauty uniform.

(Photos by Christina Han for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Jennifer says...

    I just wanted to leave a quick note to say that the B-belly struggle is real–for all women! I’ve always been a slim person, and I have a two part baby bump. I struggled with the fact that I didn’t look like a “normal” pregnant woman for the first 5 months of my pregnancy, but I ultimately decided to just accept it. Every woman’s body is different, and a two part belly can mean anything–from a back-facing baby to strong upper abs. I mean, heck, even Anne Hathaway has one! https://www.google.com/search?q=anne+hathaway+b+belly&sxsrf=ACYBGNR-dlpBQd03dNBKMX7MvF_wlf2pig:1570628696615&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=7IYl407if1H51M%253A%252CnV3JqKo1xIw7TM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kSKMSktaFs_AWuYEG3LtlOHw0-2kw&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwieoqTsp4_lAhUksKQKHVkyBrQQ9QEwAnoECAMQCQ&cshid=1570628727341169#imgrc=7IYl407if1H51M:

  2. Calie says...

    I have PCOS too and the struggle is real. No matter how healthy you eat and how many times you exercise, sometimes our bodies just do what they want anyway. I have frequently had to tell people that just because I am chubby (fat just seems too harsh…the app some of my docs use like to state “OVERWEIGHT” in big bold letters and that makes me use lots of curse words) doesn’t mean I am not fit. Body acceptance can be tough on anyone, but I think PCOS ladies get it particularly worse we can do all the things “right” and still not get results. It sucks.

    I am SO happy for you! Not only for your baby but also your journey in accepting your body as is. It is not an easy journey, but bodies are amazing and beautiful in what they can do and should be appreciated. You look gorgeous!

  3. How beautiful!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  4. Michelle says...

    So sorry you had to go through this! Pregnancy is already so hard without an added layer of challenges. Side note, 7.5 months pregnant over here and in my experience nobody offers a seat on the subway regardless of your shape and size (B, D, probably even if you’re in labor…)! Hopefully what you’ve been through gives you a deeper well of strength to draw from in your next journey as a mom. PS – Is that your apartment in some of those photos? It looks so bright and happy!

  5. Megan says...

    Kelsey, this speaks to me on so many levels. I am currently pregnant with my first child and I too have PCOS. I love my little miracle baby and decided that I would embrace my pregnant body that I never thought that I would get to experience. The hardest part for me has been stepping on the scales at the doctor’s office, worrying about the glucose test, and worrying about being forced to have a c-section. Luckily, I have a very kind and thorough plus-size friendly OB and they see you for who you are and not what you weigh. That is my biggest piece of advice to every plus-size pregnant woman. Find an OB that sees you for who you are and not what you weigh and also don’t be afraid to fire your OB. You have the option to find another one that doesn’t just dwell on the fact that you are overweight.

  6. Megan says...

    Kelsey, I love you. Never stop doing what you do. All the best to you and your family!

    • Ashlee says...

      I love this as a woman with PCOS I to had thought my body is just broken. But your words that being a healthy (according to my Dr) pregnant woman is my body performing at its peak and doing something absolutely amazing. And even though my bump is not bump like it is still beautiful and i love it.

  7. AC says...

    I’ve never read an essay that hits so close to home, and that I’ve stumbled upon at such a perfect time. I’m 35 expecting my first child in November and I’m overweight. I thought for years that it would be a struggle to get pregnant but we got pregnant “by accident” a couple of months before we had planned to start trying. Every scan/test has been normal but I keep waiting for something to go wrong. Next week I’m going in for a glucose provocation test that you get in Denmark (where I live) if you’re above a certain BMI (which I just barely am above) and I’ve been so ashamed of being the reason why my pregnancy is a higher risk one and having to have extra tests done. Also my belly hasn’t been obvious up until recently and the first couple of months I’ve looked as if I’d just gained weight in my face, butt and arms. What makes it even harder is that I feel like my boyfriend is having difficulty accepting my bigger body too. Just today we talked about it and I had such a hard time explaining why his comments about how I’m going to become a “fitness-mom” and “get back on track in no time” after the pregnancy are so hard for me to hear, but reading this essay kind of explains it to myself. I need to accept that my body is not doing something wrong by getting bigger, that it’s acting completely normal and that it’s for once actually not letting me down but doing f*cking great! 💪🏼 Thank you for this!

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      Oh gosh, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with that with your boyfriend at this time. I’m really glad this essay was able to provide a little bit of a relief and reassurance. I hope everything went well with the glucose test (it’s no fun to do, I know!) — and huge congratulations to you!

  8. Katie says...

    I was embarrassed and never talked about my similar pregnancy experience with anyone I knew. Thank you for talking about this and showing that not all bodies look the same as the ones most often shown in media! I have to say, it is now refreshing to actually have a small child with me – people coo over my toddler and give up seats in a way I never got while pregnant…

  9. Mo says...

    This was a great and thought-provoking read. Thank you.

  10. Pink says...

    Kelsey; thanks for this. Reading this I realized I’ve been avoiding getting pregnant for this reason. I’m already at my heaviest I’ve ever been so getting even bigger is just scary to me. Maybe some vanity too. As a 14 veering into 16 the idea of adding more just daunts me. Thank to you and the comments, I am starting to hope for more.

  11. Mia says...

    I’m struggling with this from the post-partum side. I am very overweight from my last pregnancy (2 years ago) and unable to lose anything. I’d love another baby, but am very unhappy with how I look and so I also feel like I just shouldn’t have another based on my body (the health concerns etc as well as vanity). Thank you for speaking openly about this issue.

  12. Grets says...

    You know what? Next time no one offers you their seat, don’t be afraid to ask. With my first pregnancy I had the opposite problem than the one you are having – I looked to small and my six months pregnant belly looked as if I had a really big breakfast. No one gave me their seat. At one occasion a woman raced me to an empty seat and beat me to it with a victorious look on her face. Then I’ve had it. I told her it was a great thing to do to a pregnant woman and she went all white and apologised profusely. Ever since then if no one offered a seat I asked for one.

  13. When you said you were going to write about plus-size pregnancy, I was curious and looking forward to the article, but somehow I didn’t expect to be blown away. Thank you, this was so good I had to read it multiple times. First, I wasn’t aware of what it’s like for pregnant women in bigger bodies, so thank you for raising my awareness. Second, it really hit home with me that I subconsciously and consciously always thought my body was wrong and doesn’t work and isn’t good, when the opposite is true. Our bodies are always working toward order and wellness. That is our natural state! Thank you, body.

  14. Eileen says...

    Really loving the T-shirt crop-tied over the baby belly! Wish I was so stylish when I was pregnant. Live it up mama❤️

  15. Tiffany says...

    Great post! I swear when I was pregnant I never looked as beautiful as you (especially in the white tee/striped skirt combo). Kudos to you for embracing your body and all its changes in pregnancy. Best wishes!

  16. Em says...

    Thank you, Kelsey! Your whole post resonated with me, and thank you so, so much for sharing and creating visibility. And cheers to you, congratulations!!

  17. James Frost says...

    LOVE this story. You’re lovely. It makes me so angry that people judge at all. Why can’t we all just love one another? Seems so much simpler to me. Alas, people are assholes, so we can only work on ourselves. Thank you for this great story.

  18. Sarah says...

    Wonderful post, thank you! And the grass is always greener – no way anyone would tell me that things were wrong with my pregnancy because based on my looks you would think everything was perfect. But, it was the nastiest battle of my life. My lightning fast post-partum weight loss was a combination of depression, insomnia and Mono. My slim, attractive pregnancy was the result of years of trying, heartbreak, huge expenses and ultimately, IVF. Meanwhile I was in pain – a lot of pain due to an undiagnosed genetic condition and when I was crying in the doctor’s office asking for help, they took my blood sample, told me I was healthy and sent me on my way. At one point, my legs stopped working on and off – it was terrifying. Yet everyone told me how wonderful I looked; no one asked how I was doing or if I needed help. I was a mess. I hope we can teach our kids about compassion and admiring the quality of a person rather than how they look. I am certainly trying to teach that to my daughter. I hope she lives at peace with her body and has gratitude for the life it brings her.

  19. Christie says...

    Thank you for sharing. This article makes me feel so seen and understood. I also have PCOS and there was a lot of talk about me losing weight in order to have the healthiest pregnancy. I’m happy to report that my body worked just fine. I now have two happy healthy little ones (who I adore) and a new collection of stretch marks on my belly (which I am working on accepting).

  20. Jen Collins says...

    One of the reasons I’m resistant to having a baby (one of MANY, MANY) is how it will affect my body and whether I’ll gain weight I can’t lose. I’m already on meds that make my metabolism slower and have gwon 30+ lbs in the past several months to around a size 20/22 after being a 16/18 for most of my adult life. I do intuitive eating too, and self-shame much less than before, but I think this would be a huge issue for me too if I became pregnant.

  21. Jacie S Coleman says...

    Kelsey,

    Thank you! Hands down the best article I’ve read in a long time. Best of luck to you and your new family!

    Jacie

  22. EllaY says...

    I’d like to add to this great conversation that I think clothing companies should all use pregnant women to model their maternity clothing! Not models with foam bellies attached to them. I think this would help all of us to see how many beautiful ways bodies are pregnant. Give me those pregnant arms! I wanna see pregnant thighs and boobs and faces for god’s sake!!

  23. Robin says...

    You are SO LOVELY. I’m so happy that you and the little one are both growing well. Pregnancy is wild. You are going to be such a great mom. I wish the world was a different place but you are making it better by being you. xo

  24. Yaella says...

    This essay moved me so much, Kelsey. I never comment but reading this over my coffee this morning has brought me to tears. I am feeling you – being pregnant and feeling like the world is an angrier place is a feeling I really relate to. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your experience.

  25. Sim says...

    I’m so grateful you shared your experience. I’m currently 6 months pregnant and have had the exact same experience as you – it was honestly freaky to read the similarities. I didn’t know there was a term for what I was worrying about aesthetically (“B-belly”) but it’s nice to know there is support available to plus size expectant mothers. It’s been a pretty lonely journey at times (don’t even get me started on trying to find plus size pregnancy appropriate workwear…) but I feel much more positive and connected after reading your post. Thank you xx

  26. Johanna says...

    You’re a fox in so many ways. Personally I love your legs but who cares what I think? Glad you’re knocking this pregnancy game out of the park. Best wishes for a swift and relatively comfortable birth, mama.

  27. Jessica says...

    Regarding giving up a subway seat, I feel so torn on this! Should we not assume a person is pregnant unless we see the baby exiting their body, or offer our seats if we think they’re pregnant? Should we wait to be asked? I ask this somewhat rhetorically because I don’t know that there is a right answer.

    I’m a straight size person and I’ve been pregnant on public transportation and in both positions: not offered a seat and offered a seat. I’ve also been not pregnant and both offered and not offered a seat.

    I guess at the end of the day, the thing I’ve personally been the most annoyed (understatement) about is getting on a very crowded train holding in my arms a toddler who can’t stand because there’s no floor room and she hasn’t yet learned to shove people aside, and being offered zero seats and forced to hold her on my arms for half an hour.

  28. Caroline says...

    Terrific, helpful article. I have several stories of rudeness and discrimination in pregnancy I could share, unfortunately. But as an older mother of three, I want to suggest to young women, pregnant and not, please stop paying so much attention to how you look and to ideas like B bellies versus D bellies! I know it is hard in this time of constant media access, but it isn’t helpful to anyone, much less the already discriminated-against plus-size women (and I’m one). Think more about what your amazing body is DOING and CAN DO. And absolutely leave health-care providers who shame you. Your body and your baby need MORE good food, not less, and food of many kinds. Instead of trying to lose weight before attempting pregnancy, eat WELL and plentifully, with nutrient density in mind, to get ready.

    And you don’t need permission from a health-care provider (barring preexisting illness of some kind) to try to get pregnant. All of this discrimination just makes me mad! I had my first while somewhat overweight at age 33, my second, still overweight, at 35 (he was a lovely 9-pounder), and my third while even more overweight at age 42. And all were healthy and dearly loved. And as others have already said, becoming a mother and caring for your child will hopefully help you see how amazing and beautifully strong our bodies are in any size or shape.

    • Josefine Garcia says...

      Loved reading your comment. You are such a badass.

  29. Lindsay says...

    Loved this piece. And the comment at the end of it: your baby is so lucky to have a mother like you. Thank you for sharing.

  30. Laura says...

    I’m so sorry this has been your experience, Kelsey. You always look fantastic and I hope you keep glowing throughout the rest of your pregnancy. Team CoJ is with you :)

  31. Rachel says...

    THANK YOU–we dont hear enough of this!

  32. Sara Licastro says...

    Thank you for this! As a plus sized mom – I couldn’t elaborate on why I was so uncomfortable during pregnancy – besides the obvious reasons;) Kelsey has perfectly described my experience. I had a healthy pregnancy and I am so thrilled so say that my almost 7 year old daughter is the best thing that has ever happened to me. BUT, pregnancy in this country, for women over a size 14 was brutal. Thank you, Kelsey! Blessings on your pregnancy and birth!

  33. Red says...

    You look amazing and beautiful…I’m beyond glad you’re healthy as I would be for any mom to be…and wish our world weren’t so actively and passively cruel. God bless you and your family :o)

  34. Elise says...

    I appreciate the fact the CoJ (and Kelsey!) have taken the time to offer this perspective. I’m someone who hasn’t had this experience and I would never have thought about it. Now, thanks to you, I can be more empathetic to an experience I haven’t had. And that research on sizeism – wow. Horrifying and eye-opening.

    CoJ, you consistently knock it out of the park with sharing varied experiences and helping us to see and hear our fellow humans more clearly. Thank you!

  35. Carrie says...

    Absolutely loved this. “Maybe I should show up for it”, brought tears to my eyes. Congratulations on your journey, both to body acceptance and motherhood.

  36. Sarah says...

    I’m 13 weeks pregnant and got a pregnancy app. It does have some useful information, but I’m shocked at how much of the app/weekly updates are focused on reminding you: Don’t get too fat! Make sure you exercise (so you don’t get too fat)! Don’t give into those cravings or eat too much fatty food! Meanwhile, there’s very little (that I’ve seen) about mental health during pregnancy. It’s so guilt-inducing and disheartening. Thank you for sharing your experience, Kelsey! It’s hard navigating a whole new terrain of diet culture. Same old body-shaming song, set to a new melody. Sigh.

    • Ellie says...

      Oh man, I totally went for it in pregnancy. I’m quite an active person, but pregnancy removed any and all impulse to exercise, and replaced it with an insatiable appetite for sweet stuff. And I just went with it. I still ate good food with plenty of veg and lean protein, but I was a miserable pregnant lady, and chocolate made me happy. I decided not to stress over it too much, because I felt sure that once my internal basketball had gone, I’d feel like moving again (and I did). So I did what made me happy and that was to eat. Chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

      All the best for the rest of the pregnancy. Take it all with a pinch of salt, and do what makes you feel good.

  37. Allison says...

    Thank you for continuing to highlight plus sized women’s stories!!

  38. Nina says...

    wow. so insightful. I was the thinnest I had been in a long time when I got pregnant. And then I gained weight. I was sick from conception till birth and could only (usually) keep down chocolate and cheetos (I was sure my child would be half of each).

    My body shuts down when I’m in pain. I told them if I got an epidural and didn’t feel pain the baby would come out FAST. No one believed me. Why don’t they believe women????!!!

    So my water broke at 32 weeks and I had had only ONE birthing class. I was freaked out. In the hospital for 5 days while getting steroid shots hoping for my baby’s lungs to develop FAST. (32 weeks is the most dangerous time for babies to be born).

    They started me on pitocin and I had no idea I was feeling labor pains just that everything hurt. The nurses were terrible and the only thing that made it ok was I hired a doula (I had no family and my child’s father wasn’t around).
    The worst experience was the guy doing the epidural. He kept telling me how fat I was and saying he couldn’t even find where to put it – and asking ME if this was right…finally I said YOU KNOW YOU WENT TO SCHOOL FOR THIS…FIGURE IT OUT. He complained that I wasn’t far enough long and other people were further along and why was he doing this? Two nurses came in an apologized for HIM afterwards. Doug Hill – I’ll never forget his name. Nothing changed…and then my doula pushed him to come in again and he had me sit up…he was still horrible but me sitting up shifted my baby enough for things to start progressing.

    I went from a “I’ll say 1 but it’s more like .5” to a 10 in 10 minutes. The dr came running in and said OMG I had to run across 6 lanes of traffic for you. I was like “I told you that, why didn’t you believe me?” and then he started poking me with instruments and saying “this is the strangest response to an epidural I’ve ever seen” I replied “Oh you mean one that didn’t work???” the only thing that happened is my blood pressure went dangerously low and I just wanted to sleep. but my child was born within 30 minutes and was healthy and well. but now 11 years later, I still remember how humiliated that person made me feel. I can’t even find where to put the needles. and add that to my stress of my child being born very early…people sucks sometimes

    • Sigrid says...

      that is so horrible, and I feel you “WHY DON´T THEY BELIVE WOMEN” so true

    • Erin says...

      I’m so sorry you had such an abusive birth experience! This is sadly way too common. I encourage anyone who has been through things like this to find out if their hospital has a patient advocate or patient advisory board and let your voice and complaints be heard so that medical staff start to get feedback that this is not okay.

  39. shannon says...

    Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing this piece! I loved it and can relate as a size 18 woman who was pregnant with a b-belly until the end stages.

  40. Jane I. says...

    I have so many thoughts! This is super relatable to me. Before I got pregnant I feared what it would do to my body. When I look at the other women in my family, I saw that pregnancy was not kind to their bodies. I totslly wanted to make peace with my body and arm myself with positive affirmations pre-pregnancy.

    Now here I am 27 weeks in and there are good days and some insecure days. The reality is that I am a 5’4″ black woman and pregnancy has only magnified the features on my body thst I’ve taken all but 30 years of my life to accept. My butt is huge, my big boobs are even bigger and my hips are a damn-near hazard.

    I just keep reminding myself that my baby won’t care what I look like so why should I? I also did myself a favor and stopped following those terrible pregnancy Instagram pages with “belly only” women, whatever that means and replaced them with the ‘grams of beautiful voluptuous black pregnant women. This is the kind of inspiration I need in my life right now.

  41. K says...

    Omg. All. Of. This.
    Thank you for writing this!
    I’m plus and had my daughter nearly 4 years ago at 38. I experienced so much of this AND was fat shamed DURING delivery by the doctor on call, in front of a room full of nurses and my husband. It was humiliating and upsetting in a moment I should have been focused on the work of labor and the joy of meeting my new baby.

    • Yaella says...

      That is so disheartening and awful. <3

  42. Melody says...

    I’m 34, plus-sized, and 5 months pregnant, and I have had so many of these feelings that I almost feel like I could have written this. Thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone. ❤️

  43. Erin says...

    Yes, this says so many things I’ve been thinking. I’m 31 and pregnant with my first. Pregnancy came easy when I thought it wouldn’t; baby is healthy (due in October) when I thought we would have to experience loss first. All of these things I assumed because of my size. I have a “B belly” as well, and I know my large frame and my growing bump isn’t obviously due to pregnancy. I’ve wondered what people think about me, and I’m trying (most days) to get to that place where I don’t care — and I want to show off this beautiful belly that holds my precious child. Thank you, Kelsey, for writing these words. They’re so impactful to me, especially now.

  44. NR says...

    THANK YOU!!!!

    • Ina says...

      Thank you so much for writing this and sharing your experience. I am a size 18 and had my daughter last year at 37. She was born very prematurely at 26 weeks. By that time I had already spent two months in hospital. So I went in not looking pregnant yet and came out, not pregnant anymore, with no baby as “proof” because she had to spend almost two more months in the NICU. Luckily she is doing great and has no issues whatsoever. So that was that about the whole pregnancy, glow, guess the size of my belly, seat on the subway experience. Not to talk about the whole questioning of „did I risk my pregnancy because I am too fat“ inner dialogue. I am going to stop my ramblings and wish you all the best. Happy Mama, happy kid! You are going to do just fine!

  45. Barbara Jane says...

    I’m not plus-sized, but I felt a lot of the same things Kelsey felt. I didn’t gain a lot of weight during my pregnancy (a good thing!) and didn’t really “pop” until about 16-17 weeks. This resulted in me mostly covering my small belly, which could have been mistaken for a large lunch (I nicknamed baby Burrito for this reason haha!) Even once I did look more pregnant, people would tell me constantly that I was “so small” and/or “barely looked pregnant”, which felt like nobody appreciated the hard work my body was doing! I’m just now feeling comfortable in my body again, and my son is about to turn 3. I think, no matter your size, it’s not easy to go through the body changes that pregnancy brings.

    • Jess says...

      I think it’s definitely true that pregnancy brings a lot of challenges around your changing body for people of all sizes. But I think in this case, the author (and many commenters) are speaking about the unique way in which these challenges are compounded by prejudice. To me, that makes what is being written about different from what you describe above. I’m sure you are coming from a very genuine place and that you faced unique and difficult challenges yourself surrounding your pregnancy, and I’m very happy to hear that you are feeling comfortable in your body again! But I think equating them in a comment on an article explicitly about body acceptance for plus-sized pregnant women is missing the point of the article.

  46. Lina says...

    Wow! Loved this article!!

  47. Heather says...

    Kelsey I have so many feelings about this essay. Just because I read everything you write doesn’t make us friends in real life, but I do wish I could make you a big milkshake and have a long talk.

    It is damned ridiculous how often women are asked to defend the shape of their bodies. People frequently assume I’m pregnant. Has been happening since I was 13 years old. For reference, I was about 105 pounds and 5 ft 10 inches tall at the time —- a bean pole. But I had a belly, so what was my excuse? About a year ago my boss asked me if I was pregnant. I said, first, no, and second, why do you think it’s ok to ask me that? He said, well, if you’re going on leave I should start planning. But this is BS. No one walks up to the man in the office with disproportionate belly girth and asks him if he’s going to have a heart attack any time soon, you know, for planning purposes. I want you to know, Kelsey, that you’re writing, in particular, has helped me nurture a real DGAF attitude about my belly pooch. This is my body, Lucky to have one. Moving on…

    I also want to share that pregnancy is an enormous period of transition, during which time you are extremely vulnerable. Your life is changing. Your marriage and friendships will change. Innocuous things are suddenly a potential threat (hibiscus in tea!! Watch out!). I feel like a baby presses down on your greatest sensitivities and weak spots. I don’t just mean your bladder. I mean, if you were anxious about your job, your husband’s job, your relationship with your mother, your body – baby is going to press down on that.

    Believe me when I say you’ll come through this and look back on yourself at this time with compassion and love. As you learn what it is to love as a mother, you can treat yourself to some of that nurturing energy.

    Congratulations, Kelsey! Xoxo

  48. Janelle says...

    I’m so sorry to hear about people not offering a seat to pregnant women. I live in London, and we have a solution for this: “Baby on Board” badges. Pregnant women wear “Baby on Board” badges when they travel on public transportation to politely inform others that they are pregnant. The social expectation is that you WILL GIVE UP YOUR SEAT (or else) when you see someone with this badge. We also have blue “Please offer me a seat” badges for people with hidden disabilities so that people will give up their seats for them as well.

    • jen says...

      I LOVE this idea!

    • Laura says...

      What a great idea! I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and that makes standing in public transportation hard for me with the stability and balance required of your body as the subway or bus moves, yet I look “normal” so no one would ever think I would need a seat.

  49. Kate says...

    You look amazing Kelsey!! Enjoy those kicks and this amazing, albeit crazy, ride. I hope I bump into you on the subway in NYC so I can offer you my seat! ❤️❤️❤️