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. Rachel says...

    Wow! Thank you for sharing! You look amazing pregnant (and not pregnant! I enjoyed your beauty uniform!)
    Its refreshing to read that body positivity is something that requires Conti ual work.
    Congratulations on your pregnancy and your mental shift!

  2. VVeronika says...

    You look great!! My fear if I see a bigger lady that I cannot decide and I would feel horrified to offer a seat and she would say: oh I’m not pregnant.
    You remember that part from Two weeks notice with Hugh Grant and the bigger lady he is interviewing?

    • Bonnie says...

      Sometimes just, “Could you use a seat?” while you rise is appreciated.

  3. Erin Laas says...

    Oh wow this piece got me – I’m only just 7.5 weeks with our first and it feels like this is exactly my story… PCOS, around the same size and pregnant a lot faster than we had anticipated. A LOT faster! The all-day queasiness is hard enough to handle, but the though of shopping for maternity clothes makes me feel sick to my stomach with dread. Not a lot a choice to start with in my relatively small country, let alone something above a size 14. Really anxious about how my weight might also bring judgement from midwives/other health professionals etc. Reading this story and the comments from others has been so encouraging – I’m so grateful :)

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      I’m sorry you’re having a rough time right now. I know the early weeks/months can be particularly difficult. In my experience, it does get easier with time and adjustment (especially if you have a supportive medical team — which I very much hope you will). Happy to share some online plus-size maternity resources and see if they ship to you, if you’re comfortable sharing where you live!

  4. Laura C. says...

    Kelsey, you are stunning. Congratulations and enjoy your pregnancy!!

  5. AJ says...

    This is a really powerful piece, like a lot of others have said, it really moved me too. Even if you can’t relate to being plus-size and pregnant, you’ve really articulated how immense and overbearing body-image and that feeling of being judged or shamed can be. BUT my biggest takeaway from the piece… your insight and awareness and ultimately self-kindness SHINES! How lucky your bubba to have a mother like you. And, we know it’s not all about this, but you are a gorgeous (and healthy, vibrant looking) woman Kelsey. There are plenty, plenty people in the world who see that truth in you x

  6. Ashley says...

    I relate to this article SO MUCH. I’m plus sized and just had my first baby in may. I always felt the need to proactively announce that I was pregnant, as if that would “excuse” the amount of space I took up. Thankfully I have a friend who prepared me a little when she explained that the chubby parts of your body remain, but the baby just grows around them.

    Thank you so much for writing this! It was so refreshing!

  7. I’m glad you wrote this. All people seemed to ask while I was pregnant is, “How are you feeling?” and I remember always feeling touched, because when you’re not pregnant, no one really seems to care how you feel. It didn’t even occur to me that there was another kind of experience. You’ve held up a mirror to another little shadowy place of privilege I didn’t even realize I had. Thank you. And P.S. I’d kill for your chin and cheekbones. (Okay I wouldn’t kill. But I’d run at least a mile. And I don’t run.)

  8. Julia says...

    I have never commented but somehow this post makes me want to comment. You are adorable pregnant and you have a beautiful belly! The right way to accentuate your bump is with tight clothes, like you do. I learned that quickly :) And don’t worry, in both my pregnancies I was offered a seat twice! Once by an old lady (come on!) and once by a young man (I need my boys to turn into that exact same man!). And I am fairly skinny. Just as with age, weight is just a number. I wish we would see it more like that. You are beautiful and I wish you all the best for the homestretch and the birth. The best is yet to come!

  9. Katie says...

    Love your writing Kelsey, and congratulations on your pregnancy! Your baby is so lucky to have you for a mom.

  10. Emma says...

    During my two pregnancies, no one gave me seat on any form of public transport. BUT! When I asked people for a seat, they all gladly hopped up straight away.
    I figure we’re all in our own world on a train, and sometimes need a prompt to consider others. No one gave me grief and happily stood.
    That said, the complexities of people passing judgement for body-size did not occur to me, so I acknowledge this is unhelpful for people going through that experience.

  11. Mullica Z. says...

    The idea of pregnancy is already daunting enough. You look stunning and I’m really thankful you shared your story.

  12. Janine says...

    This one really got me. As a fellow plus-size and recently pregnant lady, I read your article and checked the experiences off as I went.

    Convinced myself pregnancy would be difficult to achieve/unattainable without medical intervention? Check.

    Absolutely astounded upon getting pregnant? Check.

    Convinced something would go wrong during the pregnancy? Check.

    People didn’t think I was pregnant? Check.

    At the eye doctor, I was asked if I was trying to conceive when they saw I was taking pre-natal vitamins. At this point, I was seven months along.

    As weird as people can get towards pregnant women, I craved a comment on the street about my belly, or a stranger’s prying question. I was shocked, when at a wedding in my 8th month, a woman asked me when I was due. I almost hugged her.

    Other things I’d convinced myself of? That I would have a C-section.

    While I know an emergency C-section can happen to anyone. I was convinced that because I wasn’t thin or athletic, my body somehow wouldn’t be able to handle a vaginal delivery.

    I was also convinced I’d have a huge baby. He turned out to be less than 7lbs.

    Pregnancy turned out to be more empowering than I could have ever imagined. I hope your body continues to surprise and delight you along this journey. Congratulations.

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m really glad it turned into such an empowering experience for you. And congrats to you as well!

  13. Amber J says...

    Thank you for sharing this 💜💜💜

  14. O says...

    Large mother of 7 yo.
    I focused on the well being of my child and completely ignored the negative comments around me. I lost thin friends who could not get over the fact that I was pregnant and they could not conceive. I have a different set of friends now ;)

  15. Sharyn M Taylor says...

    Hope this makes you feel better but I was pregnant 24 years ago in NY and only women (sometimes) got up to give me a seat on the subway. Never a man. I love NY but it’s still a make it or leave it kind of place. BTW you look great and so glad I read this.

    • Kate says...

      Yes!! I was very pregnant in May in NYC and it was always the women who were the first to stand up and offer a seat to me as well! One guy said “I never want to offer in case someone isn’t pregnant!” And I just looked at him and said “No person will ever be upset if you offer them your seat.” Toward the end I made it a game. I’d rub my belly and sigh, and see if that worked. It did, I think because everyone assumed I was in labor and it scared the crap out of them. Mostly I realized people are in their own worlds and don’t see you. It’s not malicious. But once you have been pregnant you have a bit of a 6th sense when there are pregnant ladies around, and you offer that seat. ❤️

  16. Liz says...

    I’ve never commented on a post before, but this one really got to me. I’m not plus size and have never been pregnant, but I’m so sad that you’ve been made to feel like this. Really appreciate my eyes being opened to other people’s stories. I wish you all the best…and your legs are amazing!

    • Susie says...

      I concur your legs girl DAMN! You’re baby is going to be so blessed to have you as it’s Mama. I rarely comment either but I am going to piggyback here and say…

      I am also not plus size but I am an RN and I feel so ashamed that providers would treat you in such a way. We have so many ranges in body type that walk through the door and frankly if your diet is good and your labs are normal and you’re not strung out or negligent I am so so happy to see you – and besides that even if you were any of the aforementioned I’d still strive to care for you competently and with compassion cause we all have things – ALL OF US!

      Thank you for sharing with us.

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      Thank you, both Liz and Susie! It’s incredibly gratifying to hear responses like this. Makes me hopeful!

  17. Kristin says...

    Beautifully written piece. You are gorgeous, Kelsey, and congrats on your pregnancy!

  18. sadie says...

    kelsey,
    your beauty uniform was really helpful to me and i’m so excited to see that you’re expecting – congratulations! you look absolutely beautiful in your pregnancy. i love image #3 and the last one especially. you’re going to be an *incredible* mom. big hugs!

  19. Emma says...

    Thank you for sharing your story – you look beautiful and happy! Glad to hear you and the baby are doing well!

    For what it’s worth (and not saying this to say your perception is inaccurate or anything, just making an observation), I’ve definitely seen a lot of pregnant women and elderly folks on a crowded MTA train that weren’t offered seats as well. Not sure if people are just ruder these days or too absorbed by their phones to notice but have definitely seen that a lot lately! Sorry to hear that it has happened to you, the subway is hard enough to deal with!

  20. Janelle says...

    I hope this is allowed but I love the way this conversation is going ! I am fat and was fat when I was pregnant . I luckily didn’t experience any judgement or unnecessary comments and I also had gestational diabetes . Anyway what has really helped me is a podcast by Christy Harrison called food psych. It’s full of stories from people from all walks of life struggling with diet culture. There are a few on pregnancy too and raising kids in a non diet culture.

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      Christy is THE BEST! I’ve had the pleasure of being a guest on Food Psych, and editing a guest post she wrote for my old column, The Anti-Diet Project. Her work is so important and so helpful. I don’t think it occurred to me to look for episodes about pregnancy and kids though, so thank you for reminding me to do that!

  21. Azure says...

    I actually enjoyed my pregnancy body because it was the only time I was not self-conscious about my stomach! As an apple, I have a big belly when I’m both normal weight and overweight. When I was pregnant, I totally rocked bikinis because, hey, my belly is *supposed* to be big! Alas, I’m back to the large stomach for no particular reason.

    • Amber J says...

      😂😂😂 SAME. HERE.

  22. nadine says...

    Congratulation Kelsey!!!!! You look stunning and your words are so beautifully written. I love reading your thoughts and I’m looking forward to what this journey is going to bring you. Thank you for sharing with us.

  23. Owl says...

    You look wonderful!!! 🌸Wishing you all the best during your pregnancy and beyond! This was a good article – I was surprised by what I learned from those research links: 1) It was interesting that, in the experiment, females judged other females’ likelihood of guilt equally… in other words, overweight or thin didn’t really make a difference. However, Men were more inclined to assume that obese females were guilty. 2) Being thin (at the workplace) was judged as a positive thing for females, but rather a negative thing for males. 3) I was so curious about the nurses, and wondered if attitudes have changed at all since the study was conducted, in 1989. Thanks for sharing!

    • Tina crisas says...

      I recall an incident when i was having a check up at the hospital at 39 weeks. There was a young girl in the next room, she was pregnant and probably a size 18? She needed to be helped up off the bed with a lending hand and the nurse was yelling “well you’re so fat!!! How am i supposed to lift you up! Gosh you’re SO heavy!” i was appalled and felt so bad for the poor girl. I just could not believe my ears. This was in 2017.

  24. Emma says...

    I just had my second child 11 weeks ago and with both my pregnancies I felt bad because I carried all of the weight all around me instead of just sticking straight out like that Hallmark look Kelsey mentioned. Until one day my mom said, “You carry your babies like I did. It’s smart to distribute the weight more evenly and probably easier on your back.” And not to say that there’s a right or a wrong way to be pregnant, but it instantly changed my thought pattern from why don’t I look like the “stereotypical cute pregnant woman” to wow my body is awesome! It was creating my perfect baby after all.

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      Wow, that’s a game-changing perspective!

    • Lee-Ann says...

      What a perfect way to shift thinking. That is brilliant and so are our bodies!!

  25. M says...

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Kelsey.

  26. Agnes says...

    Not pregnant, not plus-size, have nothing to contribute except to say that you are literally the cutest!! Best of luck with your new baby!!

  27. MarlaD says...

    I am past childbearing age and had no idea there was an “ideal” belly shape. It’s heartbreaking to me that women even have to worry that the shape of their belly isn’t “right”.

    I’ve always been chubby, hovering between a 14 and a 16 my whole life. In my mid-20’s my gyn told me casually during a pap that due to my weight, I was likely infertile. I didn’t go back to a gyn, or any doctor for that matter, for almost 10 years. How I wish I had filed a complaint about her.

  28. I’m a non-diet dietitian who specializes in women’s health and to learn about the B vs D body aesthetic was an eye opener for me.

    Pregnancy definitely makes every woman battle with her body in some way or another. It’s wonderful to hear that your OB practice is more focused on your labs and nutrition vs just a number on a scale (personally, I asked not to know my own weight while pregnant but to have the doctor let me know only direct health related information).

    The world needs to break free from diet culture and with people like you, Kelsey, they are becoming more aware of the insipid ways the world has body shape and weight bias. Thank you for sharing all of your stories. I loved your book too!

    PS – During my pregnancy only two people ever gave me their seat on the NYC subway – even the residents and doctors that I worked with in a hospital were inconsiderate when it came to getting a seat at a nurses station to write notes so know self absorption and obliviousness is an epidemic and likely not getting better any time soon.

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      Thanks for this. And hooray for non-diet dietitians! Professionals like you are who enabled me to change my own life. Thank you.

  29. Ansley Clark says...

    “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.”

    This is such a beautiful piece! Thank you for writing it, Kelsey, and thank you for featuring this, Cup of Jo!

  30. Niamh says...

    What a thoughtful, insightful post. Thank you Kelsey and best of luck in your pregnancy!

  31. Janna says...

    Sadly, not offering a seat to someone who needs it has become the norm. My NYC friends complained that nobody offered them seats on crowded subways during rush hour (I was lucky to walk to and from work, so for me it was mostly not an issue). When I went to Boston at 8 months pregnant in the summer and took public transport there, nobody offered me a seat (when it was very clear that I was expecting). Just a warning, it doesn’t stop once you have the baby. I frequently commute with my little one on the public Select bus. We’ve been doing that since she was about 18 months old, and we get offered a seat maybe 5% of the time. My fellow riders pretend to not notice us and instead stare at their phones, books or have their eyes closed/pretend they’re asleep. Thus, I echo the advice of a few others who have commented – just ask for a seat! It’ll come in handy once the little one is here. :)

  32. Emily Thompson says...

    I love this post so much. Thank you for sharing your story, Kelsey. My biggest fear about pregnancy was always that I would gain too much weight during the pregnancy and, like both my mom and sister, I would struggle with trying to get back to a “normal” size the rest of my life. I thought it would ruin my body. I got in the best shape I’ve ever been in in 2017 and we decided to start trying to have our first baby in summer of 2018. We got pregnant quickly and I felt pretty good about my starting weight. Twenty three weeks later we lost our first baby to several fluke fetal anomalies discovered during our anatomy scan. She was a girl we named Georgia. I was already 20 pounds heavier than when we conceived. A few months later we conceived our rainbow baby we are now waiting on. I have so much anxiety about this pregnancy, but as trivial as it seems compared to the concern for the health of the baby, I can’t say I’m not disappointed and frustrated that I’m starting this pregnancy heavier than the first one. I felt so in awe of my body the first time. I felt so sexy and beautiful even though I was slowly gaining weight which felt scary. The changes my body we’re going through felt necessary and worth it. But then I didn’t end up with a living baby. When I look in the mirror now I can’t tell if I look pregnant or postpartum. I’m both. What we lose when a pregnancy ends without a healthy baby extends so far beyond the baby itself. Part of what I’ve lost that I’m searching for again is respect for my body and all it is capable of. But we’re not taught to think that anything but thinness is respectable. I know somewhere inside of me there is a woman who marveled at watching her body grow that first baby, even if that meant some extra pounds. I want to find her again and ask her to hold my hand this go round.

    • Blandine says...

      Emily, I am so sorry for what you went through! It must have been so hard to lose your baby. You are very strong and a terrific mother. I just wanted to share my heartfelt conviction that your body is not responsible for what happened, I am sure you know that. I send you lots of strength and happiness for your pregnancy and I agree with you, the version of you who marvels at what her body is capable of is inside you, right this moment. Lots of love, Blandine

    • Annie says...

      So sorry to hear about your little Georgia and good luck with your pregnancy. You sound like you’re on the way to find that woman who marveled x

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      Emily, I’m so very sorry. I can’t imagine begin to imagine going through what you’ve weathered (though your clarity and self-expression in sharing it is remarkable). You are absolutely right, of course, that the whole world conditions us to believe that only thinness is respectable — and I greatly commend you for seeing through that, and focusing on reclaiming respect for your own body after all it and you have been through. Thank you so much for generously sharing this. Please know I’m thinking of you, and I’m quite sure many others are as well.

  33. Beth says...

    Honestly, I’m surprised that you identify as being plus sized. You look like a lovely healthy mama to be to me. Congratulations!
    I’m not small and also worried about not having a cute bump. However the only time I ever felt comfortable in a bikini was when I was pregnant- what a great way to hide my normally tubby tummy!

  34. Katrina Peine says...

    I’ve hated my body since the moment I started ballet at 9 years old. It wasn’t until I had my daughter that I forgave myself for having a body. She was half me and if I hated any of me it felt the same as hating her and I couldn’t do that. So I accept that she is perfect and so am I.

    • Olivia says...

      Your comment broke my heart. I had the same realization that my daughter is a part of me and that she is beautiful. It has made me kinder to myself and appreciate the features I used to feel less than stellar about.

      Another word…other than the obvious things like being happy to sleep more comfortably, one of the things I was so happy about after having my daughter in June was that I could go through the world “invisibly” again. No matter your shape or size, having a pregnant body is like being on the world’s radar. I could feel the eyes just gaping at me any time I stood and waited anywhere, like for the elevator every morning at work. I felt like such a spectacle. I did appreciate all the well wishes, though.

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      This is so beautiful, and so right on. I’m going to note this down so I don’t forget it. :)

  35. Ellie says...

    I am overweight (still straight size though, for now) and 36 weeks pregnant. The most infuriating piece of this for me is that I have gestational diabetes. When people find out they assume it’s because of my weight and how poorly I take care of myself. It’s so hard to feel like a failure when there are literally a million determining factors in gestational diabetes, one of which, yes, is being overweight. But my thin mother also had it with all of her pregnancies — making me more susceptible. I feel like I have to explain and defend myself every time I mention it (so it’s secret from most people). And the experience with the nurse diabetes educators has been the most frustrating, depressing experience of my life. I hate working with her. She talks to me like I’m dumb, regularly condescending to me. And had the audacity to tell me the medical advice from my OB wasn’t doing me any favors. I haaaaate it. But it’s a requirement with my practice to see her.

    • Cait says...

      I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. If you have brought it up with the provider, may I ask what their reaction has been? And if you haven’ brought it up, you have every right to. Medical professionals are not treating a symptom or a disorder, they are treating an entire person and it’s not ok that she is making you feel this way.

      I wish you so much joy with your baby :)

    • kath says...

      Ellie. Ugh. I can totally relate to your experience. The gestational diabetes nurse/dietician that I was required to work with would regularly tell me I was endangering my child. The obgyn would not get into the science as if my brain couldn’t handle it and told me it’s because i drink too much juice. what. i’m an adult, i don’t drink juice. Hang in there! You are doing a good job for yourself and your baby. xoxox

    • AMK says...

      You have rights. In the waiting room, there should be a poster with a patient advocate number. You can call them and they will investigate her. It can be stressful having gestational diabetes (I had it with my 2nd pregnancy). You can also complain to her manager. Do whatever feels comfortable but just know you have rights. What an awful nurse to make you feel this way.

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      Uuuugggh, I’m so, so sorry. What a nightmare to have to deal with shitty providers WHILE dealing with managing GD. I know you’re pretty far along at this point, but if you like, I’m happy to recommend some excellent anti-diet dietitians who might be more helpful (and certainly less condescending!).

  36. Morgan says...

    You are gorgeous as ever and your style makes me smile. I have struggled with accepting my body my whole life – raised by a mom with multiple eating disorders and struggled with bulimia myself in my early 20s – and pregnancy, the fact that I would get bigger and bigger was really difficult and triggering for me. I have had multiple miscarriages and the push and pull between celebrating one more day pregnant and my life-long struggle for body acceptance was jarring at times. It was not something I felt comfortable airing to anyone other than my husband and I feel really happy to read your story here.

  37. Rachel says...

    Thank you for sharing, Kelsey! It feels so comforting to know when I am not alone with my inside thoughts. It stinks that for how miraculous pregnancy is, women are often filled with insecurities about our bodies, health and capabilities as mothers.

    I am so happy to hear that you are feeling great and are enjoying yourself during this special time. Soak it up! Your story was inspiring. :)

  38. Isidora says...

    So, I’m not from US, (not sure if it makes a difference) and people generally did offer me their seat, but if noone did, and I needed to sit down, i’d just ask someone if i could, while resting a hand on my belly. It would allways work. Don’t be afraid to ask, and don’t just wait till you pass out or smthg, you need to stand up for yourself, and not wait for someone else to notice that you need a seat. Just ask! Same goes for waiting in lines

    • Becca says...

      Yes, ask! I asked all the time, starting early in my pregnancy. Mama needs a seat.

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      I appreciate that, and I’d just like to note that it’s not as easy to do so when you’re dealing with the attitudes and biases I describe above in the piece. Obviously, if I were faint or especially rotten I would ask. But as I say, people are often angry or irritated already, just seeing a fat person out in public. So it’s especially challenging asking for a seat when you’re looking at an angry face.

  39. Angela says...

    I have 4 year old twins and I distinctly remember feeling so relieved that people may actually see I was pregnant versus just looking fat. While pregnant, I waited for anyone to comment on my stomach and even walked around Target near the very end, and no one ever said anything. How does no one ask if I’m expecting twins, when I am literally expecting twins? I truly think we are all so busy, distracted, and scared to offend by mistake that people were just frightened. I went to a “unpacking your birthing baggage workshop” because I had a lot to unpack, but it wasn’t until reading this, that I made the connection of seeing my body as a failure and the fat shaming I’d undergone my whole life. Wow! Thanks for the realization and congrats to you on your glowing pregnancy.

    • liz says...

      Just responding to your questions from my own perspective (native ny-er lol) I would NEVER ask a stranger about their pregnancy for the very reason of being respectful/polite, especially if they look like they are expecting twins. 1) not my business 2) what if I’m wrong and they are not pregnant 3) don’t want to bother the person who I’m sure has things to do while pregnant. just my thoughts!

    • Eloise says...

      I was a plus-size pregnant lady carrying twins … and oh wow did people ask! It was disconcerting at best, although it has become funnier in hindsight. One day I stopped at a drive-through for lunch. I paid at the first window, then pulled up to the second. The cashier and, like, three other women were hanging out the window to get a better look at my giant belly!

      This article has made me grateful for my awesome OB, whose only comment about my size was, “I find my larger moms are nice and strong, and they tend to have an easier time carrying multiples than the little skinny moms.”

      Kelsey, you look beautiful. Congratulations and all the best to you!

  40. Colleen says...

    I’m a plus size gal too and had a very healthy daughter twelve years ago when I was age 41. My OB was SO MEAN to me because of my size and I’m sure the combo with my age which she determined as high risk. I hated going to her but didn’t think anyone else would take me on because she made me feel like I was a ticking time bomb. She told me I would have gestational diabetes, would have an oversized baby at 13+ pounds and that I would have to do a C-section. I’m perfectly healthy in every way other than my weight and always have been. I had no complications, no diabetes, delivered vaginally and my baby weighed 7 lbs, 10 oz. I was so happy she was not on duty the night I gave birth, I never want to see her again. I was extraordinarily ambivalent about becoming a mother and her horribleness made that an event more challenging time.

    • Sasha L says...

      This story makes me so angry. You deserved so much better Colleen.

  41. Jen says...

    Thank you for sharing, Kelsey! Unfortunately, prejudice from doctors is all too real. My OB insisted that I had gestational diabetes even after I passed all 4 levels of the test with flying colors, simply because of my size. So happy for you that you’re reaching such a great body acceptance; I’m working on that too xo

  42. Elizabeth says...

    I’m still vibrating from how much this resonates with me. I think, though, that the pleasant ending distracts from an important reality, which is that the stigma, the taboo, the judgement, and the pain that comes from living in a body that is considered “wrong” doesn’t end just because you’ve learned to ignore or accept it. It will continue to crop up, in doctors appointments, in conversations with other parents, at your kid’s school, within your own family. Yes, you can toughen up and try not to care, but being dehumanized in this way is damaging. It’s damaging to our mental and physical health, it’s damaging to relationships and financial well being, and it is perpetuating.

    I love Kelsey’s writing, and I’m so happy to see body positivity here on COJ. I also want to remind all of us that we can push back a little harder on the dehumanization of fat people. We can speak up for each other. Let’s do this. It would be so great if social problems could be solved with a simple internal change of perspective, but I don’t think they can be.

    • Yes!

  43. Cherie says...

    I admire how thoughtful and articulate Kelsey is. Thank you for this insightful read.

  44. Ana D says...

    Should people offer you a seat? Absolutely.

    Can you ASK for a seat? YES, YES YOU CAN.

    Here in the Bay Area, I’ve seen some fearless pregnant people asking for a seat, and the person who was seated and previously engrossed with their phone jumps up and apologizes.

    It’s a win-win! “I’m pregnant and I’m feeling a bit faint. Can I have your seat until X stop please?” If they hesitate, “Hey, you’ve all been on BART during a medical emergency, right? Nobody wants to wait for the paramedics – I’m just trying to make sure I don’t stop our train for an hour. Thanks for your help.”

    • Alexandra says...

      I love it, thank you. That’s how it’s done. But not everyone is brave enough to do it.

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      I hear you both. And I hear Alice’s comment below too — a very important point about invisible disabilities or illness. I also want to add that it’s not necessarily a question of simply not being brave enough when you’re also dealing with the biases and angry attitudes I describe above. Fat people aren’t being chicken; often they’re trying to avoid confrontation or overt public shaming.

    • Alice says...

      I love this, and think it’s important and totally valid to ask if you really need a seat- but I do think you need to be mindful of shaming people who hesitate to stand up- non-visible disabilities are a thing! Imagine someone who has CFS- they might hesitate because they’re wondering if they have the energy to stand until that stop themselves. I think it’s totally worth asking, but I think you need to be careful not to shame people who do not, or cannot, stand for someone else :) (though let’s be honest- in most of those scenarios, someone else would offer to stand if the person asked couldn’t/ wouldn’t!)

  45. Rachel says...

    So grateful for this post, and COJ’s continued commitment to honest and varied storytelling. Kelsey you look fabulous! This baby is lucky to have such a great mom.

  46. What a beautifully written article. So glad she called out the Instagram doctors and people pretending to care about plus-size people’s health. Also, totally enraged about people not giving up their seat on the metro! I see all the time in DC and it. Drives. Me. CRAZY! This woman is a goddess who made life and that child is going to be blessed with a very smart and wonderful mother.

  47. Nathalie says...

    When I was pregnant but not yet showing, I ALWAYS rested my hand on my belly to try to make it more obvious . . . Even though I found it a bit weird myself, I couldn’t help it.
    I love your style, Kelsey! Inspiration even though I’m no longer pregnant! (Off to find a non-stained white T-shirt)

  48. Alanna says...

    Love this so much.

  49. Alix says...

    I was going to write something thoughtful and blahblah expectations of a neat bump, blahblahblah, but I just deleted it. I just want to say, thank you for writing this. Thank you for putting into words what all of us who have had such struggles with our weight feel, think, experience, dread, and obstruct our joy. This came at exactly the right time for me. x

  50. Madeleine says...

    Kelsey, first of all you look absolutely stunning!! Secondly I just want to say, I’m a very petite woman and my OB was super strict about weight gain and exercise while I was pregnant. So much so that I was scared to step on her scale at the monthly visits and monitored my weight weekly in an obsessive way for 9 months. I so regret this. Sure, I only put on 10kgs during my pregnancy but my baby was small in utero and at birth (still is at 18 months old ) and I ended up having a c section, which I really did not want. My point is that body shape means absolutely nothing and smaller is not always better! You are doing amazingly and you look perfect to me! All the best!

    • Sadie says...

      I wanted to say something similar. I feel like I had the reverse of Kelsey’s experience. I’m very slender and healthy-“looking”, but I had a terrible time getting pregnant at age 32 and discovered all sorts of health problems I’d never known about before in the process. When I finally got pregnant I felt horrible for most of it and had to have frequent doctors visits to monitor my condition, but I gained just the recommended amount of weight in a cute bump and looked good, so people always assumed pregnancy was treating me well. I delivered via emergency c-section 9 weeks early with preeclampsia and severe risk of stroke. I lost my baby weight quickly and got lots of compliments on how I looked—while my baby was in the NICU for 9 weeks. Even my OB GYN joked that at least I looked great going through this horrible process. I would have so much preferred to be a healthy mom with healthy baby. Skinny and pretty doesn’t equal healthy or happy.

    • Another Kelsey says...

      Sadie and Madeiline, I can relate to this. I am naturally on the smaller side (not super thin, but short and petite). With my second baby, I had to be admitted to the hospital 5 weeks before my due date because he stopped moving in the womb and they discovered cardiac abnormalities. It was terrifying. While I was there, this OB nurse––who was otherwise very lovely!––who was pregnant herself, told me my bump was so small and cute and that she knew a lot of women who would have been so happy to look like me at 35 weeks. I was too distraught to tell her I would have gladly gained a hundred pounds if it meant the baby would be ok and we didn’t have to go through what we were going through. (He was fine in the end, but the experience remains difficult to think about.)

  51. Julianne says...

    I’ve been pregnant 3 times in 3 different big cities relying on daily public transit (London, Paris, Washington DC), and I have to say I’m disappointed roundly by how rarely people give up their seats for pregnant women :/ But! The London tube has these lovely “Baby on Board” pins they give out for free to eliminate any doubts and prompt people to offer a seat. I’m very sick the first months of pregnancy and need a seat these months more than when I’m “showing,” so the buttons were such a boon for that!

    • S says...

      That is so amazing! They need to offer those pins everywhere, I think :)

    • I’ve heard Japan has a similar system. It’s not a pregnancy-specific thing, but perhaps a red pin of some sort? (Anyone from Japan, please chime in!) Anyway, the idea is you wear this red pin on your shirt/bag if you need a seat. So it’s accessible to anyone (pregnant women, or anyone who might really need a seat for any reason though maybe you can’t “tell” by looking at them), and it is a signal to other people to offer you a seat without your asking. Would love to see NYC start something like this! I wonder how to get a program like this started?

  52. Mags says...

    Hi Kelsey, such an inspriring, well-written piece. Just so you know, in my experience hardly anyone gets up on the NYC subway for anyone. I’ve taken the subway with crutches, a huge leg brace, and a neck brace and still wasn’t offered a seat. When I was pregnant and very uncomfortable I would have to ask for someone to get up.

  53. allie says...

    First of all, Kelsey looks like a beautiful mama QUEEN in all of these pictures and I’m living for the black and red striped dress she’s working in that last image – just perfectly pregnant and fly as fuck.

    I am constantly amazed at what I don’t know/the things that would never cross my mind to even consider…like these statistics about employment, salary discrepancies, conviction rates, nurse feedback polls…I had NO idea, and wow. Just wow. Thank you for opening my eyes, and I’m sure the eyes of many others, to just how deep this issue cuts – I’m grateful to be aware, but man, my blood is boiling. May we all continue to keep doing what we can, every day, to chip away at discrimination one tiny piece at a time. I believe in a better world to come because of women like Kelsey.

    • Brooke says...

      Allie I love your comment so much!! I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact the anger on the behalf of others is really empathy in action. That we are all interconnected and our speaking up makes it a better more hospitable world for all of us. Yasss!!

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      Love love LOVE both these comments! Thank you Brooke & Allie!

  54. Meg says...

    This was a wonderful read. Thanks for sharing your journey, Kelsey!

  55. Batya says...

    For those commenting on the NYC subway etiquette stuff (or just public transport etiquette): actually, New York DOES have baby on board buttons like they have in London (I had my first in London and my second in NYC) but for whatever reason they’ve never caught on. Probably because it takes a critical mass of people to start using them without embarrassment, which hasn’t happened yet. Also, if you’re worried about giving up your seat for someone because you don’t want to make assumptions about them (that they’re pregnant, or that they’re old and weak) you should do what my husband does: get up like you are getting off soon, and make subtle and brief eye contact with the person you think might want your seat.

    • pink says...

      love what your husband does.

      When I stand a certain way on the subway, people offer me seats (thinking I’m pregnant)… which is awkward, but I always thank them so they don’t stop offering to women who might be pregnant.

    • Karyn says...

      Yes! Batya, that’s awesome transit etiquette; I try to do similar myself. And, as Pink says, yes! I always thank people for offering up a seat to me because my belly looks pregnant (even when I’m not and it makes me cringe) because I do think the kindness is something to encourage! You all are my kind of subway riders :)

  56. Christy says...

    Gah. I can totally relate to B belly. You are beautiful and look amazing in those striped dresses. Best of luck to you and baby!

  57. Sirena says...

    So I actually meant role MODEL, not role mother, but I kind of like the sound of that too. What a great role model. Best wishes Kelsey and baby. I love the outfits and my fave is the white tee with stripey dress.

  58. Sirena says...

    I LOVE this piece and wish the BEST for the author. Way to show up for yourself and your child. What a great role mother and great preparation for what parenthood often requires – advocating for yourself and your child in the face of a lot of people (some of them experts) who think they know better than you do. Truly inspiring.

  59. LT says...

    I have never been pregnant, but I have a dear friend who recently gave birth to a little girl. She has had major body issues while pregnant and with her recovering body and I’m not sure how to talk to her about those things. I want to support her, but she doesn’t like talking about her body. Any advice?

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      This is tough, because we all struggle to talk about sensitive issues, and it’s especially hard when you’re in a vulnerable state. I would say to follow her lead, and when she expresses that she’s struggling (directly or indirectly) talk about the feelings she’s feeling — not the body she’s having feelings about. We’re all conditioned to provide reassurances, like, “You look great!” but that doesn’t provide the meaningful support we need. Really listen to what she’s saying, take it in, and respond with empathy, letting her know that you hear she’s in pain and you’re sorry she’s struggling. And remind her that if and when she ever DOES want to talk more about it, you’re ready to listen with compassion. She may never take you up on that, but trust me, she will really appreciate knowing that you’re there.

  60. M says...

    Thank you for writing this. You look beautiful!

    I am a plus size woman who was fortunate to have a child. I want to try again but have not lost all of my pregnancy weight yet and also wanted to loose a bit of weight I tried to get off before I was pregnant with my first child. When I went to my OB and felt nervous and quite frankly embarrassed she told me not to worry and that I was healthy and to try for my next child if we wanted.

    After our first child my husband was deployed for a few months and we did not live near family. It took everything in me just to survive! But that meant not much exercise (my son hated the stroller he would scream the entire time and I couldn’t carry him in the Bjorn for awhile because of medical issues) and I didn’t loose much weight. When he slept I slept! I have friends who worked out when their baby slept and I slept because I was the only one here for awhile. I felt embarrassed especially because everyone thought I was pregnant again (including a close friend who knew my struggles!). But now I am more accepting of myself and my body! Thank you so much for writing this, I really needed to read it today of all days. Thank you!

  61. Erin says...

    As a thin person who sported a “swallowed basketball” belly while pregnant, I can tell you that I was rarely offered a seat on public transit.
    People! Offer the pregnant (or elderly, or tired, or kid-strapped, or crutches-bearing, etc) person a seat!
    If you are in a line-up at a store, let the lady with the baby behind you go ahead of you, even if that baby is peacefully sleeping… I can tell you that the lady is gambling on minutes before that sleeping baby erupts and needs to be fed in public, which mom may or may not have mastered yet, and would probably prefer to do at home so she can place said baby in the crib and have a proper rest.
    If you see a mom of 3 unloading a cart in a grocery store parking lot, offer to return the cart to the corral for her.
    Look out for each other, and smooth the way. Also, speak up about your needs. When I was pregnant, I wondered why there wasn’t a chair by a grocery store checkout to let tired, pregnant, or wobbly people sit while they waited. It would be an easy way to make grocery stores more accessible, but it was something I would never have considered before I was wracked with pregnancy varicose vein discomfort and longing to get off my feet. Oftentimes, people just don’t realize the little things they can do to make things easier…tell them!

    • june says...

      I would add: take advantage of delivery – most grocery stores deliver and usually free for a minimum shop. But even the $10 fee if you’re under is a worthy expense for at least the first five years. Or from now on! lol You are worth it. Your time and sanity are worth it. Your kids are worth it. If you “can’t” afford it – just leave off the chips/soda/etc…and suddenly it’s affordable and you have like, two hours of new time!

  62. Alix Oreck says...

    Yall, as a new mama at age 35, a plus size woman, AND a doctor, this story was at the same time sad and inspiring and courageous. Kelsey, you are truly glowing. I think the most important part of the pregnancy journey is trying to take care of yourself, no matter what form that takes. YOU ARE MAKING BONES girl. MAKING BONES. That is just bananas. I encourage deep breaths. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that the world in which our little ones grow up is a whole lot sweeter and kinder.

    • Jessica says...

      Lol. This reminded me of my daily pregnancy mantra when I was tired at the end of the day and needed an excuse to ignore the daily chores and just put my feet up. I’d say “oh yeah, I grew eye balls today. Freakin’ eye balls.”

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      I love this. I should write that reminder on the back of my hand. :)

  63. Sasha L says...

    I know this is just one unique experience, but the process of growing babies and birthing them and feeding them helped me see my body in a much more positive light. The whole path to motherhood was tremendously healing for me. I don’t think you have to get pregnant a certain way, or give birth a particular way, or feed a baby a certain way either to get this. It’s just the wonder and amazement and power and bravery of bringing life. (I think you can get a positive self and body image a lot of other ways too – climbing mountains has also brought me a similar sense of confidence in my body).

  64. Jolee says...

    Congratulations, Kelsey. I enjoyed your article very much. Your baby is lucky to have someone like you as their mom.

  65. Amles says...

    You look fabulous! Congratulations! :)

  66. Kara says...

    Love this post. As the immortal Toni Morrison wrote, I’ve found motherhood to be liberating in so many ways, but especially from toxic beauty standards. Hope you find it liberating too!

    “There was something so valuable about what happened when one became a mother. For me it was the most liberating thing that ever happened to me. Liberating because the demands that children make are not the demands of a normal ‘other.’ The children’s demands on me were things that nobody ever asked me to do. To be a good manager. To have a sense of humor. To deliver something that somebody could use. And they were not interested in all the things that other people were interested in, like what I was wearing or if I were sensual. Somehow all of the baggage that I had accumulated as a person about what was valuable just fell away. I could not only be me—whatever that was—but somebody actually needed me to be that. If you listen to [your children], somehow you are able to free yourself from baggage and vanity and all sorts of things, and deliver a better self, one that you like. The person that was in me that I liked best was the one my children seemed to want.”
    – From “Toni Morrison and Motherhood: A Politics of the Heart”

    • RobberSoup says...

      Thank you for sharing this! So beautiful.

  67. Sasha L says...

    Can we talk terminology? I see commenters use the words obese, overweight, fat, large, plus sized…….. What are the preferred words for the women to whom these words refer? I want to use the words that these ladies feel most comfortable with, but I’m just not sure.

    • Ana D says...

      Depends on the person. Like most subjective and sensitive topics, little consensus exists. Gotta check with each person, and be ready to pivot from what you decide on as acceptable wording based on your audience’s response.

      Something that may make you more comfortable with finding a term that feels non-pejorative to YOU is researching the origin and current popular usage of each term. You got this.

    • L says...

      There isn’t one preferred word and someone’s preferred word is going to make someone else cringe. I listen for how people refer to themselves and try to use the same terminology.

    • Melissa says...

      I would say plus sized is the best catch all. Lots of plus sized people are reclaiming ‘fat’, but it still makes some people uncomfortable.

  68. Alexandra says...

    This was a great piece to read and a topic I can really relate to. I have always been a “bigger” girl and have been through the constant cycle of diets and wanting to make my body more acceptable to others and myself. It’s hard. I too want to have a baby in the next year or or so and constantly worry if it’s going to happen as I also think my body is ‘not right’. It’s given me a bit of hope there that perhaps I should not worry problems to be there. But it also highlighted a deep worry for me that if I do get pregnant that I too will also face these obstacles and feelings.
    I am so grateful though for Cup of Jo for giving voice to ALL kinds of woman and making us feel seen and valued.

    • Alexandra says...

      As an Alexandra to another Alexandra, thank you for stating this so well and so eloquently. I’ve spent the last year thinking my body isn’t right for a baby, telling myself to lose x lbs before we try, and sign-up for Slimming World again… I just had a miscarriage in June and that was a mess, but I recovered. Let me tell you: call your OB-GYN, get yourself a midwife, start the journey with your labs and prenatal visits, and if you have a good doctor/midwife, you will be on your way. You will be buoyed by women (and men) who care deeply for your health and success. I still have those reservations and fears, but I look forward to the end of those nine months and how it will all be worth it! It’s a journey and I know you will get there. x

  69. Jordan says...

    This is EXACTLY what I needed to read right now. I am currently 25 weeks pregnant and am experiences these same feelings. I am not plus size but am technically obese according to my BMI/height and weight. I have a b-belly and i’m hiding it because it just looks like i’m a fatter version of myself, praying for the day when my b-belly turns into a d-belly. I too embraced intuitive eating and body acceptance a while ago and thought I had overcome my distaste for my body. Pregnancy has changed all that and it’s like I’m having to relearn it all over again. My Health at Every Size thinking went out the window the moment I got my positive test and I was so sure I would have complications like gestational diabetes and other things. But as it turns out, i’m as healthy as I have ever been. I’m starting to trust my body again although it’s taking longer than i’d like. Pieces like this truly help more than you know. Thank you so much!!!!!!

    • Ana D says...

      Ditto ditto ditto!!!

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      Thank YOU so much for sharing this! And bravo to you for doing the hard work of relearning all this and reclaiming body trust while you’re going through pregnancy (which is challenging enough!). I totally get where you’re coming from.

  70. liz says...

    this article is everything. it makes me so sad to read but so happy at the same time to know these conversations (essentially that women deserve better) are becoming more frequent and more public.

  71. Sarah Moore says...

    Thank you so much for sharing, Kelsey! How beautiful. What a gift it is every day that this little place on the internet exists.

  72. Jen says...

    Congrats on your pregnancy! Throughout all three of my pregnancies I often had to stand on crowded buses—and I was very obviously pregnant. On the rare occasions that I was offered a seat, it was ALWAYS by a woman. So this may be a change in society in general. People stay glued to their phones and seem to have no trouble ignoring the hugely pregnant woman hovering over them.

  73. Anna says...

    I have a dear friend who is plus sized that gave birth at the same hospital did. Her nurse team spoke rudely about her weight during the labor and once it came time to deliver she was mortified to be asked to get on all fours on the bed so that they could more easily deliver her baby due to her size. She struggled with some depression afterward. One of the most liberating choices she made postpartum was to write a letter of complaint to the hospital detailing the commentary. Just writing the letter was freeing to her but I hope sending the letter will be helpful to other mamas going forward.

  74. Lora says...

    I am currently in my second pregnancy and one of my favorite things has been the utter delight my toddler daughter has in my changing body. Every day, she’ll lift my shirt and pat my belly. She’ll then lift her shirt and bump her belly into my pregnant belly. She’ll then make the rounds with anyone in the room, gesturing toward all the bellies. I love witnessing family members and friends of all shapes/sizes happily lift their shirts to connect with her in this playful, belly-tastic way. The self-consciousness brought on by arbitrary cultural expectations seems to melt in the face of a toddler’s obvious joy in seeing all the bellies!

  75. Michelle says...

    I never appreciated what a great body I had when I was about 22 years old but I can tell you this, my 42 year-old body has been pregnant 6 times, has given birth to four babies, nursed all four of them and is strong enough to carry the oldest up the stairs to bed after a long car ride. Motherhood has a wonderful way of allowing us to love our bodies for what they can do instead of hate them for how we look! Also Kelsey, you are beautiful and totally look pregnant to me (I live in the midwest where people are usually well-mannered and chivalrous and NO ONE gets up for pregnant people on the subway, so that was probably it). Congratulations!

  76. Linda says...

    Congratulations!
    when i was pregnant with my son, i never got a seat on a crowded train. Near the end, when things got physically uncomfortable for me, i ended up uber-ing. i chalked up the expense as a necessary medical expense.

  77. Congratulations Kelsey and thank you so much for this well-written and thoughtful piece. I was an overweight pregnant lady and so I know this journey. After my son was born, my boss (president of the college where I taught) rolled up to me at a faculty meeting and allowed that she never could tell that I was pregnant. She wasn’t being kind as the whole circle of faculty with me recognized at the time. Now I can laugh about it but that 20 years and several jobs later.

  78. Sarah says...

    You look radiant and beautiful! Love your maternity style.

  79. Maywyn says...

    You look Gorgeous!

  80. Jules says...

    You’re positively blooming! Congratulations 👍

  81. Sasha L says...

    Kelsey, I love every single post you make ♥️♥️♥️ This one is especially brilliant.

    As a birth doula I saw first hand how large women were treated differently by medical staff. So many assumptions, and rarely helpful. I’ve seen women who look traditionally thin and fit (like marathoners) have many complications and very difficult births and large women have easy uncomplicated births. A good friend is a large woman (and doula) who’s birthed all of her babies at home with no fuss at all. Pregnancy and birth are just way too complex to make assumptions. I’ve also seen very kind nurses and doctors, sometimes large women themselves, treat large women with so much compassion and kindness and confidence. And boy did that have a giant effect on how birth went! It makes my heart hurt to read some of the words in this piece, that some people find fat people repulsive. Ugh. We can do so much better.

    Kelsey, thank you for sharing something so deeply personal. I hope it helps other women feel ok too. Congratulations your sweet precious baby. You are going to be such a good mom.

  82. Claire says...

    Congratulations and you look absolutely amazing! I’m 3 months preggo right now and struggling with the body changes and it is so helpful to read your essay and see the beauty and positivity in your photos. I already looked pregnant prior to becoming and with this being my second pregnancy, I really popped out fast. My first pregnancy was plus sized as well but I was also a fit athlete and I’ve gained more weight and while somewhat active, I’m nowhere near as fit and strong as before my first child. Now, with these giants boobs and expanding middle it’s a struggle to look in the mirror and except that this is me and to be at peace with the amazing things my body is doing. Mostly I struggle with how others suddenly feel the right to look at and comment on a pregnant body. I’ve had nothing but positivity and love so far and my care team has been wonderful with lots of comments about how healthy I am but I’m struggling to find acceptance with just how HUGE I feel already and trying to control the anxiety of knowing what the next 5.5 months will bring. Thank you for your post as it is helpful seeing someone get to the other side and I’m hoping I’ll get there too.

  83. Andrea says...

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m dragging my feet about even going to a fertility clinic for a consultation because I’m afraid they’ll turn me away if I don’t meet their BMI requirements, ugh! (Using a donor so would need some type of treatment for sure) Glad to see folks talking about these issues.

  84. Sarah says...

    This is a wonderful piece. The bit of research about nurses made me quite sad! The study Kelsey references was of 107 nurses in 1989! I’d be curious what a larger sample today would reflect, although I fear not much has changed.

  85. Isabelle says...

    Dear Kelsey,
    You look absolutely stunning, what a beautiful mama-to-be!

  86. J says...

    Great essay, thank you for writing and thanks COJ for publishing.

  87. Joy says...

    I love this! Thank you for sharing a perspective we don’t often get to hear. Also, my sister-in-law is very obese and she’s had TWO incredibly healthy pregnancies and easy deliveries!

    And, you look absolutely beautiful! Can’t wait to read whatever you have to write about your journey into motherhood.

  88. Kate says...

    Completely in tears reading this. Thanks for sharing your story.

    I too am fat, age 35, and starting to think about getting pregnant. Most days I’m pretty happy with my body but even my closest friends have made comments like, “you’ll want to be in better shape for pregnancy.” I listened at first, completely hurt – these were people who had already been pregnant so they must be right.

    I have an appointment with the OBGYN in a couple weeks to check in to see if I’m okay to start trying – this will be a new doc for me. I’m terrified that I’ll be shamed for my weight and discouraged from becoming a mother. Any guidance from anyone out there on how to handle this?

    • If it’s an option, maybe see a Nurse Practitioner/Midwife? I was an overweight mom-to-be and the midwifery practice I used was really positive, very female and body-friendly.

      And no matter what, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. No one has the right to shame you. Walk out if you need to.

    • Shira Talmon says...

      Just here to say – you don’t need anyone’s approval to start trying!
      I can understand the desire to check that everything’s ok, but honestly, fertility is a really mysterious thing and doctors know a lot less than they think.
      The only thing you need to know going on is to take folic acid. And maybe you want to do genetic testing.
      Good luck!!!

    • Sasha L says...

      I second what Stacy said. As a birth doula, I see a much greater level of respect from midwives than from other medical practitioners (respect in general for women, the birth process, just everything, but especially body positivity).

    • EH says...

      Do you know about Health at Every Size yet? You can search their registry to find healthcare practitioners of all sorts who’ve done their inner work and research to be able to offer a more cutting-edge approach that’s holistic, respectful, and inclusive for all: https://haescommunity.com/search/. Having open-minded, compassionate, and informed doctors has been life-changing for me (a plus size person)! I now consider it an essential mental health and safety issue, no longer visiting unconsciously biased doctors. The negative impacts and even trauma of those encounters are simply not helpful or worth it at all. Wishing you so much peace, support, and joy in your process, Kate :)

    • Jessica says...

      If it’s available to you, find a midwife. They tend to be by nature very nurturing and supportive. I was very sensitive about my “geriatric pregnancy ” (I hate that this term exists), I felt like the worst mom in the world for waiting so long to start and my midwife was amazing at quieting that negative voice and assuring me everything was fine.

    • Jessica says...

      Also, read the book Expecting Better by Emily Oster. It’s a really good pregnancy health resource. She really validates that a lot of commonly held beliefs regarding pregnancy are not supported by good science.

    • Sarah says...

      Having literally done this exact same thing two years ago, at the same age, my biggest piece of advice is to advocate for yourself. So if the doctor does shame you, for any reason, walk out, and resolve to find a doctor/health professional who will support you.

      I don’t want to tell you it won’t happen, because it DID happen to me. I was told I had no business getting pregnant at my weight, and should really look into swimming whilst I was recovering from hip surgery to lose weight. Side note – hip surgery was from serious injury while marathon training, weight gain was from brutal 1.5 years of recovery. I only mention this because this OB was giving me advice about a recovery she knew nothing about because of her pre-conceived bias about weight.

      I walked out and never went back.

      I then found midwives who were so supportive they even handled my request to not know my weight during pregnancy with grace. I was never once shamed for my weight.

      Helpful professionals are out there. If the one you see isn’t helpful, find a new one.

      Cheering you on Kate. You are NOT alone in this.

    • Claire says...

      It can be so hard and I’m wishing you the best for a body positive OBGYN! In case it is helpful to hear, I expressed my concerns about my weight before getting pregnant and my OBGYN really tried to discourage me from having it hold me back from starting to try. She emphasized that I was very healthy, she see’s lots of overweight patients deliver healthy babies with no complications, and that frankly, waiting until I was older (after magically loosing the weight) would just put me at higher risk for other issues.

    • dm says...

      I am 6 wks post partum and overweight/obese. I found the BEST care for me was at a birth center. I had an amazing experience and the midwives there were so knowledgeable, caring, and resourceful. If your new OB doesn’t seem like a good match for you, keep looking for one! There are so many more options out there now for pregnant mamas. All the best to you, dearest Kate. You are going to be a great mama.

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      You’ve gotten a lot of great advice here, I see! I would second all this, and I would also highly recommend checking out resources like the one EH recommended. Here are a couple others to search for size-inclusive, body positive and fat friendly providers in your area:

      https://www.isitample.com/
      http://fatfriendlydocs.com/

  89. CC says...

    Kelsey, you look soooo beautiful! Congratulations on your pregnancy!! I hope we hear more baby updates from you on CoJ :) I’m so happy you have a doctor you like who respects you and makes you feel at ease.

    I am now pregnant with my second. It has changed my thinking about my body completely. I was just so happy to have a healthy baby and amazed at what my body did/has been able to do. So many of my insecurities and negative thinking have faded away. The irony is, my body has never looked WORSE! But I honestly don’t care. I have a STRONG body. I feel confident, needed, powerful. You touched on this, but it’s seriously so amazing to be able to get pregnant in the first place. Giving yourself the freedom to just be in awe of it and tune everyone out is pretty beautiful.

    It’s rare someone gives me a seat on public transit, but I’ve become more comfortable just asking for it if I truly need to sit down. A friend pointed out how mortifying it would be to incorrectly assume a woman is pregnant – in any setting. That was good perspective for me to hear. Sometimes the situation is not really as negative as my mind tricks me into believing.

  90. AGY says...

    Congratulations Kelsey! You look so gorgeous, and what a great Mom you will be!

    I too was a size 18 while pregnant with my first and went through all of these feelings. I constantly thought about the fact that people wouldn’t move for me on the subway, and probably assumed a similar thought – “why move for this women who is winded from carrying her own weight”. I went home and cried to my partner, that I just looked like an even fatter version of myself. But I too moved forward, loving my body for carrying a baby, a miracle in itself! We are so amazing! Our bodies are amazing! And because I knew that I was taking care of my baby in every way I could, I choose to ignore what I thought others might be thinking.

    Wising you all of the best!

    xx A

  91. Heather says...

    I love this so much. I’ve been chubby my whole life and grew into a plus size woman with major body issues. When my husband and I started trying to get pregnant, it took me three tries before I found an OB/GYN who would even “allow” me to try to conceive. The one I did find was wonderful and never once mentioned my weight as an obstacle to getting pregnant. We couldn’t end up getting pregnant after many years, so we adopted an amazing little boy, but I’ll still hold the hopes that one day I can be in her shoes!

  92. All the love to you and your little one. Being pregnant is hard; being pregnant in NYC is the worst. The people who take public transport in this city are awful in general. I used to just stand rather risk disturbing people, then there was one day when someone lost their balance and elbowed me in the stomach hard, and it scared the crap out of me. After that I just straight-up asked people to get up, not even apologetically anymore. Now post-baby, if I’m sitting down, I make sure to do regular scans of the people around me to see if there is anyone who needs the seat more than me. Anyone who gives you a dirty look for asking for a seat is not worth a second thought!

  93. Marieke says...

    Kelsey, congratulations on your pregnancy! I love your writing and what you write about and am working my way through your book at the moment. Have you heard of the “Baby on Board” badge /pin? I live in London and almost all pregnant women wear the badges on public transport. If you’d like the badge, I’d be happy to send you the one I used during my two pregnancies – just let me know! Wishing you all the best x

    • Alix Oreck says...

      what a great idea that badge is! no more curiousity, no more rude questions.

  94. Anna says...

    This was an amazing article; thank you for sharing!

  95. Jamie says...

    Congratulations! Loved the tied front white shirt–genius.

  96. Jacque says...

    I was not plus size and almost comically pregnant looking and my experience in new york city was that no one cared and I basically never got a seat on the subway. Congratulations mama, your little child is so lucky to have a fierce and smart woman to guide them.

    • Priya says...

      Me too, exactly. In fact it used to make me emotional that no one seemed to care.

      I think you look great, beautiful and healthy mama.

    • Jess says...

      I was once on a subway when a LABORING woman came onto the other end of the car! No one got up to give her their seat, instead half the car basically RAN AWAY in fear 😂😂
      Good ol’ NYC for ya

    • D says...

      Boston T rider here and was offered a seat once (although I got a lot of evaluating glances. Maybe people were afraid to assume?) over the span of 2 pregnancies.

      Pregnancy and the postnatal healing process definitely complicated the way I felt about my body, but I’ve found the way my babies look at me is so redeeming. Not that you need to seek validation from anyone other than yourself, but it is gratifying when your little ones looks at you with such kind eyes.

    • Callie says...

      I’m currently 36 weeks pregnant with my 3rd (and definitely look pregnant) and this is my experience too. I actually feel like people will deliberate avoid making eye contact so to avoid giving up their seats. Everyone once in a while someone else standing up will get irritated on my behalf and say something (either to me or outloud to whomever hears it) and somehow that embarrasses me too–even as I’m also kinda grateful. I find myself making excuses though for the seated people in that situation and have said several times–even in the last week–“oh it’s okay, I’m only going to Grand Central.” I’m not sure why I do that though, I’d so so achy and tired and pregnant that I’d honestly like the seat, I’m just embarrassed to take someone’s seat for only one or two more stops.

  97. Jess says...

    Wow, what an eye opening read…thank you for sharing Kelsey! And congratulations on what is going to be the most beautiful chapter of your life yet. You’ve got this! x

  98. Hilary says...

    Congratulations, Kelsey! Becoming a mama is the most wonderful and exciting thing.

    I had a different experience: looking not at all pregnant for a weirdly long time. I was in the best conventional* shape of my life when I got pregnant: strong core, muscular legs, actual biceps. And then I had terrible morning sickness and started dropping weight like crazy. I was pale, sunken, nauseated and dizzy for months. My doctors told me a scoop of ice-cream was an acceptable dinner because I simply needed calories. Nobody gave up their seats for me because I looked hungover or ill, and who wants to sit next to a sad bundle of germs on the bus? Nobody, it turns out.

    I wish all American cities would do like London and give out sweet little “Baby on Board” buttons to expecting mothers to wear on public transit. It’s a great way to level set and show everyone that pregnancy comes in all shapes and sizes, and all of those sizes are worthy of a dang seat on the bus.

    *I now believe that I’m in great shape again. I weigh 20 pounds more and have all kinds of tiger stripes and squish, but I’m really proud of what we did together, my body and I. I can also still run 10Ks and lug around a 30 pound toddler! Strength looks like so many things on this journey.

  99. Ellen says...

    I’m nearly in my third trimester and have gained 50 pounds, more than what articles and blogs say a woman “should” gain in her pregnancy. I think grappling with my body image and self-esteem has been far more difficult than the pregnancy itself. I’ve been desperate for more representation of diverse pregnant bodies on social media and the internet, and I could not be more thankful to you for writing this, Kelsey.

    Never in my life have I felt more like my body has taken over, and so much of what I normally try to control has been wrested from me. It’s hard to accept that after being told for the past 30-odd years that my body is something I have to regulate and maintain. I’m trying now to embrace letting go and surrendering to my body as it undergoes this incredible process called pregnancy.

    • Becca says...

      Ignore those articles. My OB as a rule doesn’t weigh his patients unless they ask to be weighed because he doesn’t think it’s important. (He’s the best.) With my first, I gained at least 42 pounds and then I stopped weighing myself and with my second I never weighed myself at all!

    • Kelsey Miller says...

      Thank you, Ellen. I’m sorry, and I know it can be tremendously challenging. Often those numbers seem soooo arbitrary (and the internet is full of them!). I’m glad this has offered a tiny bit of comfort. And I totally hear you: There’s nothing like SEEING more diverse body representation to make you feel less alone.

  100. Sara says...

    I love this story. I am also a plus sized mama with a 5 month old. The B belly!!! I obsessed about it for far too long. Thank you for sharing such a relatable journey.

  101. Congratulations to you!! The first time someone offered me a seat on a subway, I almost cried in gratitude. I am about 6 months now, and have been offered a seat 3 times. All from males, interestingly!

    (Of course, I felt I most needed a seat in my first 12 weeks—when no one was going to offer as no one could tell.)

    I went to London in May and there were tons of signs in trains telling people to offer seats to pregnant women. We don’t see those in NYC, but they made me feel more seen. :) Maybe one day, NYC!

    Good luck with your pregnancy!! Your body is amazing and powerful! xoxo

  102. Becka says...

    So happy for you, Kelsey! Thank you for sharing your experience of struggling to hold on to body positivity during your pregnancy. I hope it becomes a beautifully transforming time for you. You’re beautiful and brilliant inside and out, and what a wonderful role model you’ll be for your kids. Also, I’m reading your book right now and I love it!

  103. Jessica says...

    I would encourage all pregnant women to read the book Expecting Better by Emily Oster. This was my bible during my pregnancies. She lays down what the scientific evidence actually says or doesn’t say on a lot of issues. And as a result, you come to see that a lot of “advice” and opinions (even from doctors) is not backed up by sound evidence. It made me feel a lot more empowered in many of my decisions and allowed me to trust myself despite commentary from the peanut gallery.

    • Carolyn says...

      Yes!!! This book got me through a LOT of concerns—both my own and others. I always recommend it to me prego friends.

    • callie says...

      I also loved this book. I found it so calming that she’d really looked at all the research.

  104. Karla says...

    Thank you so very much for sharing this.

  105. Kelly says...

    Thank you so much for writing this.

  106. Sarah says...

    Hurray Kelsey! I My weight got out of control postpartum. Breastfeeding and sleepless nights wrecked havoc on my hormones. I lost the weight at one point by counting calories and jogging with my stroller, rain or shine. But I gained it back in a matter of weeks when I got stressed and went off track. One day I was so exhausted I had thoughts of running my car off a cliff. And that’s when I stopped trying to be perfect. I gave up trying to keep on top of the housework and forcing myself to host visitors. Oddly, that’s when all the anxiety and a lot of depression started to melt away. I always appreciated feminism, but motherhood made me a feminist. At the 20 month mark, when I stopped breastfeeding and got enough sleep, the weight fell off as easily as it came. Perhaps I needed the same things as my baby: patience, grace and lots of nourishment.

  107. p.s. says...

    congratulations, Kelsey…. your child is so unbelievably lucky to have a mama like you. <3

  108. Stanislava says...

    Kelsey, reading your story was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. I am both inspired by you as a person and also now a huge fan of you as a writer. The amount of work and courage that would have gone into earning your happiness sounds amazing. Also, huge congratulations to you and your family on the new and exciting addition =) Also, all your outfits are so beautiful (the striped dress/skirt combo has my heart forever). Also, isn’t it incredible that something was both the hardest thing ever (the pregnancy journey) and also reaffirming – your body knows what it’s doing and your doctor sounds like she gets it too.
    Sending you lots of love.

  109. Katherine says...

    Congrats Kelsey! What an exciting time. I appreciate your openness so much. How lucky your baby is to have such a thoughtful, compassionate mama. Thank you for sharing your experience with us; it makes me feel so seen and understood, as someone who just went through her first pregnancy last year. I now have a 9 month old baby girl and am struggling to love and accept my postpartum body. I thought I’d overcome my body issues before I got pregnant, but once I was growing my girl, I gained 70lbs and I have not been able to lose much at all since she’s been born. It’s crazy that giving birth is the strongest most badass thing my body has ever done, and yet here I am afterwards having trouble honoring it with the love it deserves. I am trying hard to reach a positive relationship with my body again, especially because I want to set a good example for my daughter. Reading this helps give me the reminder and perspective I desperately need that my body is not a problem.

  110. Sarah White says...

    My goodness. Thank you for this. I recently both became plus sized and had a plus sized pregnancy. I can relate to SO MUCH of what you said. Except the part about your body working well (I’m so happy yours did!) My plus sized body didn’t cooperate. And was shamed by more healthcare professionals than I’d like to admit for both my weight and my mental health struggles. In fact I had one doctor, at my 20 week ultrasound tell me my son had heart problems and it was my fault because I was fat and took medication (that was cleared by about 5 different doctors.) Turns out my son didn’t have heart problems. But he did have other problems and was born unexpectedly at 31 weeks last December. NONE of his problems are related to my weight or any medication I took. Turns out it’s just a random chance of fate and a very rare genetic condition that has thrust me front and center to the life of a special needs parent. And yet, even knowing this, I still wonder, more frequently than one might think, if it is indeed my fault. Would my son have been born healthy if I’d started out as a size 8 instead of a 16? Did I fail him in some monumental way? I hope not. And rationally I don’t think I did. But I’d be lying if I said that the doubt isn’t there. Because it absolutely is. Wishing you nothing but the best, motherhood is such an adventure!

    • Whitney says...

      Congratulations on your baby boy and also f*ck that doctor!

    • caroline says...

      As a geneticist, please let me try to calm your doubts. Genetic disorders are indeed the fate of chance and our complex and sometimes imperfect development. It is not your fault. Any doctor is cruel to imply otherwise.

    • Sarah says...

      Whitney – thank you so much! My son is such a joy. Such a joy. And goodness yes screw that doctor. Ugh. She was horrid!

      Caroline – it was so kind of you to take the time to say that. Your reply soothed my sometimes doubting heart. I appreciate you!

  111. Betsy says...

    Congratulations, Kelsey! I loved reading about your beauty routine awhile back and would be very curious to know how it has changed with pregnancy!

  112. Sara says...

    Kelsey, My youngest is 9 so I was pregnant a million years ago, but this is the first time I’ve read about a B-belly! I have one of those!! Seeing it described and reading about others who have it, had it, whatever (through the link in the article), made me feel so seen and this wave of tingly stuff washed over me when I read your whole post. I so appreciate you.

  113. Cece says...

    What a great piece – you look amazing and your body is doing something incredible!

    I found during my recent pregnancy that whatever your size, there’s something about pregnancy that seems to convince people your body is public property. I’m a UK size 14 (so a 10 US) but I had a huge baby bump and *everyone* decided they had the right to an opinion on it. It was exhausting and demoralising and it made me anxious that I wasn’t making healthy enough choices or doing a good enough job of growing my baby.

    It turns out… I was just growing a giant son! 9lb 6 and super long rather than chubby. He’s perfect and beautiful and I really regret letting other people’s insensitive comments overshadow my final pregnancy.

  114. Rebecca says...

    6 years ago I remember when I was pregnant with my first baby and was crying inside of a motherhood maternity dressing room at the mall. It never even dawned on me that even when pregnant store sizing would be discriminatory. It was so depressing and really affected my mental state throughout the next 8m! Years later there are more choices for maternity clothes as all sizes- TG. But, a plus size pregnancy is a whole other bag of mental gymnastics to add to your already full bag from just being pregnant. Gorgeous pics!

  115. Amanda says...

    This is a great essay. As someone who has struggled with many similar body and eating issues as you I actually HAD to get your book on mindful and intuitive eating because your story resonates so much. Getting pregnant last year, there was pressure and vulnerability coming from those old voices in my head. My BMI is within normal range but I OBSSESED over every single lb gained while pregnant and how my bump looked. Anyways, get THIS: At my 35 week dr appointment, knowing my history with an eating disorder, my dr had the nerve to negativley point out a weight jump(even though I was still under the recommended 20-35lb gain and overall very healthy). What’s even more dumb is the nurse weighed me with my jacket on and purse in my hands. I really lost it. Not only was it their failure to notice how inaccurate the weight measurement was, as a medical professional she should have taken the conversation with a different approach! Needless to say I’m 9 mo post partum, and looking back I just shake my head at how terrible the whole experience was with my dr and the neglect she had towards my mental health about weight gain and to make an issue out of a non issue 😤.

  116. SB says...

    Oh my goodness Kelsey you look gorgeous! That third photo! The smize! And then you go and rock pigtails! I can’t even handle it.

  117. Lacy says...

    This is the line that is still sticking with me: “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.”
    You are embodying this journey and I am so thankful for your storytelling. It illuminates for me that the body “ideal” will exist no matter what age or stage we may inhabit. While the “perfect” may always be present, I can always choose my response to the impossible ideal. Today, I choose to celebrate the strength in my bones and softness of my stomach.
    Best wishes to you and your family!

    • Poppy says...

      second this! i feel like whatever It is, it might not even be about weight or shape or whatever, it might just be a free-floating thought about not enough that takes whatever form is available–e.g., i’m not body-positive enough! not today, satan. maybe tomorrow, we’ll see

  118. Angie McDermid says...

    I was big before pregnancy but plus sized after. I hear you. As a plus sized nurse I have lived the judging of other nurses. But many of them are big too. The difference is they feel their fat is situational. Others’ is just from being lazy. In my 50’s I’m just trying to be fit and keep the shaming out of my life and my daughter’s

  119. Beth says...

    Congratulations! I’ll be so curious to hear about your experience with intuitive eating during pregnancy and post-partum. These are two periods in my life that I ate very intuitively. During pregnancy, I either needed fat and carbs to ease nausea or tons of greens, because nausea subsided and I desperately craved nutrients and fiber. And post-partum, with nursing and literally feeling my organs moving (uterus retracting and post C-sections, it felt like everything was moving), I craved food that fueled my body. I drank so much water and ate so much fiber–I could feel my system cleansing itself and getting stronger. For me, it was a special time where I was hyper aware of how my body was working and what it needed. It’s hard to recreate that now in my every day life, years after kids. But I wish I could. (Also, I recognize that many women have a hard time feeling good about how their body works in pregnancy and post-partum, especially if they experienced medical complications–but my experience was highly positive with both of my children.)

  120. Kate says...

    This is so beautiful! Congratulations, Kelsey! And, at the same time, it is so maddening. How is it that weight stigma is, somehow still, such a socially acceptable form of discrimination? You address it with such grace and wisdom, and I’m grateful to have read your words. It would also be really understandable, though, if you occasionally flew into fits of rage about it all. You could blame it on the hormones. Sending good vibes for loads of people who get their act together and offer you a seat to cross your path in the coming weeks.

  121. Marnie says...

    Beautifully written, beautiful Mama-to-be and one incredibly lucky baby inside that beautiful bump! Congrats to you and your family!

  122. Mary says...

    Kelsey, to echo the other comments: your vulnerability is so beautiful and made even so by your honest writing. Thank you for adding your voice to CoJ.

    Also sounds like you have an amazing doctor, who has not pre-labelled you.

  123. Lynn says...

    I’m a short wide heavy person, and when I got pregnant I was excited to have some front-to-back heft to offset my usual side-to-side heft. That did happen, and I felt pretty cute as a clumsy pregnant person! Now I’m a short wide heavy oldish person. It’s amazing how many stereotypes exist for a short wide heavy person of any age or stage. I wonder if I were not short, wide, or heavy… would I feel any less encumbered by visions of all the similarly endowed people in movies, tv, or old family photos? I doubt it. I think anyone outside of the tall svelte white beauty norm suffers the constant slings and arrows of judgement. Pregnancy, aging, and other life changes just alter the focus. The basic struggle goes on.

  124. MB says...

    Congratulations on your pregnancy!
    My comment is about the idea of your body “failing” you. I’ve thought about that a lot lately. My body for all outward appearances is fine–I’m at a decent weight and I am able-bodied. Yet I’ve been grappling with my body’s failures more often this year–and I have struggled to accept them as limitations rather than failures.
    There are things related to just having a 35-year old body. But I also have a series of ailments both mental–generalized anxiety and depression– and physical–I have fibrocystic breasts and for two weeks of every month my breasts are so sore that I can’t walk up or down the stairs without cradling them (much less exercise), my tilted uterus makes it so that sexual intercourse is painful and as a result my anxiety is exacerbated. I consider these to be especially intimate “failures” since they are not easily brought up and sometimes even taboo. I suppose it may be that most people feel that way about their own body issues.
    I recognize that I am so fortunate to be able to go out for walks, or open my eyes and see the world. It is just difficult some days to objectively balance your appreciation for the bodily vessel that allows for you to take part in the world and deal with how it disappoints you. This is probably why you don’t even notice it when it is doing its job properly (e.g. you aren’t aware of your teeth until you get a toothache!). I’m trying to be more aware of when my body is NOT disappointing me. After all, I’m so lucky it allows me to do so many things.
    I guess what I’m saying is thank you for sharing. I didn’t know how much I needed to read this.

  125. Tracy says...

    You look beautiful! Thank you for such openness.

  126. KQ says...

    It might be also that folks are afraid of assuming you are pregnant so they just say nothing. As someone who has had many people ask when I am due (when I am not pregnant), I appreciate that folks are now cautious before opening their mouths. Perhaps if you asked for the seat and say you are pregnant? I am sure lots of folks would give you a big smile and wish you well.
    Congrats and enjoy!

    • Jessica says...

      I can also vouch for this experience. For my second pregnancy, I looked very visibly pregnant pretty early on. But a lot of casual acquaintance at work from other departments said nothing. I remember being 7 months pregnant and making a pregnancy comment around a male colleague. At that point, he said “oh you’re pregnant, congratulations”. I pointed out that it should have been pretty obvious but he maintained that he never assumed until the person openly stated it. I had this experience with quite a few people.

    • Natasha says...

      True! I was about 5 1/2 months pregnant during a trip to NYC and no one gave up their seat for me. I definitely had a bump, but it also could have been a “too-many-breakfast-burritos” bump. Some people eyed it, but everyone kept quiet–likely as an over-abundance of caution. Nothing worse than being congratulated when you’re not actually pregnant! (I got that post-partum).

    • Alison says...

      Yep, I had to take my husband to the hospital last week and at least THREE nurses made comments about me being pregnant (asking me when I’m due, asking if it’s my first, calling me Mom!). I am not pregnant, just fat, thank you very much!

    • Heather says...

      When I rode the subway/bus during my two pregnancies, I found that a hand-on-the-lower-belly gesture sometimes helped. Still, I was only offered a seat maybe a quarter of the time once I was in the final months, and then always by sweet older women.

      You know what REALLY gets people to give you space, though? Having contractions on a bus. When people noticed me cringing every three minutes on the night I went into labor with my daughter, I quickly had an entire row to myself.

  127. Kendra says...

    Kelsey, thank you for sharing your feelings so openly and eloquently. I’ve never thought of what pregnant plus-sized woman go through and the societal judgement that would come along with their pregnancy, but because of you I now know better.

  128. Kat says...

    Thank you for writing this, Kelsey. It almost made me cry in the middle. It saddens me that so many people decide that other people’s bodies (or lives) are their business. And don’t people love to tell you what you *should* do! I have a very different medical issue going on currently (endometriosis) and as someone who “looks” healthy, I get looks for getting the bus a few stops or not giving up my seat. But I am in pain and I can’t walk very far! We never know what someone else has going on and I think assuming the best in everyone instead of the worst would make the world a nicer place!
    Sending you good vibes and I agree with the other commenters, you look fantastic!

  129. J says...

    Beautiful, Kelsey! Can you share where your dresses are from? You look so cute and comfortable!

  130. R says...

    I really really needed this today. I’m 23 weeks, a size 14, and basically not showing. Seeing representation of pregnant people at all sizes is so important and this post means so much. Thanks for sharing.

  131. Michelle says...

    I absolutely love your honesty. I was plus size when I had my second baby and constantly played the “fat or pregnant” game. I was so much more comfortable once I felt like strangers could tell I was pregnant. It was hard. But also worth it. Good luck with your little one!

  132. Beautiful Mama and beautiful post! After two NYC pregnancies and countless miserable standing subway rides, I’ve made it my personal mission to help pregnant women find a seat. If I don’t have one to offer, I ask the row of people sitting if they will offer theirs. It’s hard to ask for a seat yourself, but nice to have a little help. These pics look like Greenpoint. If you live in the neighborhood Kelsey, I highly recommend the “Brooklyn Baby Hui” Facebook group. It’s a wonderful resource to meet new families and get local recommendations.

  133. Kim says...

    Beautiful post. It’s a great reminder to spend less time thinking about how our bodies look and more time focusing on what we are accomplishing because of our bodies. Even though I’m autoimmune and constantly sick, I try to remember that my body still does a lot of good: everything from getting my master’s degree to enjoying a walk with my dog in the park. I am can still be grateful for my imperfect body.

  134. Emma says...

    great post. I am recently married and my husband and I often discuss the question of children (we agreed we both weren’t sure when we married but that we’d figure it out together and prioritize e/o in the decision). Hating my body and fearing its changes is a big consideration for me. It’s so scary to cede some bodily autonomy, especially in a society that finds every way to tear women apart.

    Also, this makes me think. My husband and I often talk about the ethics of bringing a child into a broken world, with the threat of climate change looming. I’d love to see a post that highlights women’s decision about whether or not to have children. Would love to hear from mothers how they reconciled their fears/doubts if those existed. And from women who decided against children, how did you land there and how has the decision changed your life?

    • Hilary says...

      Hey Emma!

      The NYT just did a piece about more and more millenials being unsure if they want children- it might be interesting to check out! Re. climate change and our messed up world. We very much wanted a child, but are stopping at 1 for a number of reasons. I absolutely worry about our future as a country, human race, a planet, etc. However, I never feel more hope as when I look at my daughter (and my students- I’m a teacher). I have such faith that they will know better and do better. On a practical standpoint, I’ve tried to make a lot of personal changes knowing my daughter will look to us for what “normal” people do. We ditched paper napkins, disposable cotton pads, etc. so she grows up thinking this is just what people have to do. Is this single handedly solving climate change? Of course not. However, the optimist in me has to believe that we will do better.

  135. CaraM says...

    Random aside, but I almost wish this was a Week of Outfits post, because I’d love to know what route Kelsey went with regarding her maternity outfits. Are these bigger plus size pieces or from a certain maternity site that features plus sizes?

    • Emily says...

      Pregnancy is whack. Some moments are wonderful (and you look beautiful in all the photos in this post! Hope you’ve been feeling good physically too) and some moments /aspects seem totally weird and unpredictable. I can commiserate with feeling like your body let you down- after a fairly easy pregnancy and birth I was diagnosed (in a long drawn out process that included my baby losing too much weight in the first few weeks) with igt- insufficient glandular tissue, meaning I couldn’t make enough milk for my baby. It was devastating, the fact that my body wasn’t doing what it was supposed to. I am pregnant with my 2nd now, and hoping for the best. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your pregnancy. Ps, in London this summer I saw women on the tube with little pins that said baby on board, I’m not sure if it made people give up their seat or not. But people over there were nicer than Americans have been in terms of having a stroller/toddler.

  136. I really needed this. I’m at the point where in the next year or so my partner and I will probably try and get pregnant. As someone who is also size 18 I worry about this more than I like to admit.

  137. CaraM says...

    Kelsey, your writing is so beautiful and vulnerable. This essay in particular definitely hit home for me. My only regret is that this article didn’t exist two years ago when I was pregnant and dealing with so many of the same issues (I googled “B belly” so many times). I eventually embraced pencil skirts and cute fitted shirts, but only after I popped and it became very evident that I was pregnant. The words of an OB who filled in for a midwife at my practice still make me angry, “You need to ensure you only gain a maximum of 10 lbs with this pregnancy, even if your baby ends up being small.” Which was crazy to me as I was a healthy eater, an active weight lifter, and did not have issues with blood sugar or gestational diabetes. As someone just now going through intuitive eating, those words still make me tear up… why didn’t I just leave that practice and advocate for myself? Anyhow, the bright side of my pregnancy was prenatal yoga. I had never done yoga before, but it really made me appreciate my pregnant body. The words of the yoga instructor, “Be the pregnant goddess you are” still make me smile on my hardest day trying to accept my body. My goddess body did give life to an incredible 2 year old daughter who brings me joy every day. Kelsey, you look amazingly beautiful and I wish you a continued healthy pregnancy.

    • Lucy says...

      Caram, this comment from your OB made me really angry. When I was pregnant with my twins, a doctor told me I should gain only ten more pounds than what was recommended for women with singleton pregnancies. I had lost three pregnancies on the way to becoming pregnant with twins and research on multiple pregnancies was telling me more weight gain was safer for the babies. So why was I being shamed into only gaining ten more pounds? I was having TWO babies! I didn’t listen, gained 75 pounds despite the dismay of many people, and I had two seven pound babies after an induction. To pregnant moms out there — do not take your doctor’s, or society’s, word as gospel about how much weight you should gain. Listen to your body and prioritize eating the nutritious food you need for you and your baby(s).

      And to Kelsey, thank you for sharing your perspective with us. This is not the first time you will question yourself as a new parent, but keep listening to your inner voice and have confidence in yourself and your decisions!

  138. Erin G. says...

    I could have written this seven years ago, Kelsey. I loved relating to your beautifully written experience.

    I’d like to share that, now, as the mother of a six and half year old little boy, I’m more accepting of my body than I ever thought I could be. Experiencing it birth a child, feed a hungry infant, cradle a sleepy baby, comfort an upset toddler, chase a wild pre-schooler, and show an almost first grader what a woman’s body might really look like, has been the best body acceptance boot camp I could have asked for. I still have my issues to work through, but my mom-body is the best version of my body I’ve known.

    • Abbie says...

      Same. With all the challenges pregnancy and child birth bring, there is serious credibility I finally couldn’t deny myself after three, big, strong, healthy babies came from my plus sized body. All bodies are amazing.

    • Sara says...

      This is the key, isn’t it? I never knew how to be kind to my body until I had two babies, and then it was a lot easier. I want them to be kind to theirs, don’t I? I want to lead by example, don’t I? This body brought their perfection into this world, so it has to be worthy of my love, too. <3 <3 <3

  139. celeste says...

    I think you look incredibly gorgeous and I wish you a great rest of your pregnancy, can’t wait for the birth announcement!

  140. Kim says...

    You’re beautiful, Kelsey. Wishing you a happy, healthy pregnancy and delivery. I love the navy skirt!

  141. Mary says...

    Oh sweet gorgeous mama to be, you are glowing and you are rocking this pregnancy! I particularly love the picture of you in your striped dress and red glasses. It’s like your body is your wisest friend. Look how much you are learning about life and how much you are teaching us. Not caring about what others think is something I’m working on too. Thank you for inspiring me. Best of luck for the home stretch. 💖

  142. Brooke says...

    Kelsey, congratulations!! Hurrah for tiny person soon to join you for real living and adventures. :) You’re such a wonderful presence and I am so glad you are part of CoJ- and the world in general. You have an incredible way of communicating these things I also hold so dear – intuitive eating, freedom, honesty about the nuances of living in our real selves. I take a deep breath when I read your writing and feel like I’m really living.

    Have you heard Emily Heller’s interview on Good One podcast? Her thoughts around body freedom made me feel the same way and she’s witty and moving like you.

  143. Eleanor Frances says...

    Thank you for sharing your story. It was very thought provoking and I learned a lot. You are very generous to write this for all COJ readers and have the makings of being a wonderful mother.

  144. Melissa says...

    Kelsey if it weren’t for the title and your words (which were beautiful, thank you), I would have thought this was a Beauty Uniform post about how to rock a pregnant body. You look radiant and your baby is lucky both to have such a a thoughtful mama and one with such excellent style. Best wishes!

  145. You’re beautiful and glowing in these photos and to me, obvi preggo. But then again, even if you weren’t pregnant you still would look lovely just as you are. Just exactly as you are.

    Wishing you a lovely birth story and a healthy and happy baby. Sending love and joy!

  146. Mouse says...

    Mazel tov Kelsey! I think you look great. I am a 5’2″ 130 lb menopausal woman who loves wearing tents for the same reason in some ways: My body is none of anyone else’s business, pregnant or otherwise. I wish people would worry about their own problems and stop being so judgmental of bloody everything.

    Thank you for allowing yourself to be open for the rest of us to understand a little of how it is to be another person.

    • Grainne says...

      This! I’m considered fairly slim but I hate getting comments on my body. The older I get, the more I love a tent. It feels like a way to reclaim ownership over something that everyone else tries to take away from you.

  147. MC says...

    What a beautiful way to start the week, thank you for this lovely, and so well written piece.

    • Maïa says...

      Kelsey, your writing and the way you shared your story here make us, readers, more human. <3
      You have a simple and humble way to describe your journey, with lucidity and in a strong and non judgemental manner, its so powerful! Thank you!!

  148. Lauren E. says...

    I freaking LOVE your writing style. Thanks for such an insightful piece.

    100% not making excuses for jerks on the train, but as a subway rider, I would never go so far as to assume someone was pregnant. A close friend has fibroids and when people assume she’s pregnant, it’s super hurtful. So I’m hyper sensitive to it now. I like the idea of asking for a seat on the train if you need it, whether it’s an elderly person, an injured person, or a pregnant person.

    • LMT says...

      I’ve had both experiences, and would still encourage you to offer! I think it’s part of the social contract of the subway to keep an eye out for people who might need your seat more than you. I’ve been mistaken for pregnant and it feels crappy, but it was way more hurtful to feel like no one can be bothered to get up for you. When I was pregnant, people weren’t always leaping to give me a seat on the subway, but someone generally would and I felt so grateful. The one time no one offered (at 38 weeks), it felt profoundly lonely and awful, like I needed help and no one cared. Yes, I could have asked, and would have if I’d had to, but it’s so much easier to extend an offer.

    • Amy says...

      I had this same reaction! I am fairly thin and no one openly assumed I was pregnant until literally the last month (even though I gained 40 pounds and had a prominent belly by 5 months). I guess my waddling gave me away at that point, haha.

    • Maïa says...

      I’ve already offended an old person by offering my seat, as she answered that she was not that old! And I also have been mistaken as pregnant when I wasn’t and felt it was so hurtful!
      So now if I wonder if someone may use my seat, I leave my place and go stand further, and hopefully they can get an opportunity to take mine! :)

  149. KS says...

    Woah I needed this. I also am a size 18 and 4 months pregnant. Not that you can tell. On top of that, this pregnancy has been baby complication after complication. I have an amniocentesis this week to confirm if this baby has a life limiting genetic disorder. Yet I have a coworker who is due the same time as me. She has the perfect belly and so far the perfect pregnancy. It’s so hard not to compare. All I can do at this point is hope that little baby in me is a healthy one and I can continue this pregnancy so its older brother can have that sibling he’s always wanted.

    • H says...

      KS, I will be thinking of you and your little one as you go through testing this week. It can be so hard to not compare with others, and pregnancy seems to make comparisons even more inevitable somehow. Whenever I struggled, I always think of my own pregnancy. I was fortunate to have an amazing pregnancy. However, our journey to pregnancy was so so so hard. No one saw the shots, the appointments (so. many. appointments), the miscarriage, the tears. On the outside, it would have looked really easy. I try to use it as a good reminder that you just never know what people are going through!

    • Patricia says...

      Dear KS,
      I’m sorry that this pregnancy has had so many worries for you. I’m sending you love and good wishes for your amniocentesis. Please take care. ❤️

    • Isabelle says...

      Dear KS,
      Crossing fingers for you and sending love.

  150. Jemma says...

    Holy Moly. This story resonates with me like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve recently had to grapple with asking myself if I wasn’t sure about having kids because I didn’t think it was the right decision for me, or if I don’t believe my body is capable as a plus size woman. Thank you for sharing, Kelsey!

    • What a beautiful mama! I’m currently in my 3rd trimester with my third and I’m dying over that striped skirt/white t-shirt outfit. I’m going to have to go find something similar immediately!