Body image and pregnancy

I was recently involved in a very friendly and supportive debate on Twitter, after posting a question about supportive/ shaping underwear in pregnancy. I had NO idea that so many would be so against it. I was genuinely surprised that out of everyone on my timeline, only one lady had worn them in a previous pregnancy, and one expressed an interest in trying them. The whole conversation boiled down to one thing for me: body image.

body image and pregnancy~ghostwritermummy.co.uk

 

I have spent years of being ‘The Fat One’. I was bullied at school. I was put on diets as a child, and told that I couldn’t eat the same things as my sisters. I was teased and I was ridiculed on a daily basis. Imagine my delight when I discovered the power that could be had by with-holding food from my body! Of course, its not that simple, but in a nutshell I have spent years of my life being on a diet. Worrying about my weight. Wanting to be different. Wanting a different shell to carry myself around in. One that fitted in with this society’s view of an acceptable looking person. One that did not fill me with shame and disgust. I have reached some low points in this battle, but pregnancy has to have been the absolute tipping point for me, in so many ways.

During my first pregnancy, I took the ‘eating for two’ sentiment straight to heart and indulged in the lack of morning sickness (Oh! How I envy that pregnant girl now!). I gained weight, but was happy. Until the remarks began again. This time at work, and not at school. Even still, I knew that the baby I was growing was important enough to brush my feelings aside, and luckily the weight fell off after she was born. Subsequent pregnancies have not been as calorie laden and my weight gain has not really bothered me. Having children has meant that my own issues surrounding weight have been pushed to one side and as a result of not thinking about them much I’ve managed to maintain a weight I am generally happy with.

I usually have a body that I can dress fairly well to hide the bits I don’t like. Little touches like a cardigan to cover the bit at the back that I’d like to change but know by now never will.

 

body image and pregnancy a cardi to hide little bits~ ghostwritermummy.co.ukA belt to pull in the dress to change it’s shape so that certain little bumps are hidden for the night. Yes, supportive underwear to hoist me up a little, just for the evening. You learn to dress your shape, feel happy in what you wear and confident in yourself a little more. So that if you catch sight of yourself in a mirror, or someone takes a photograph of you the result is not as horrifying as you might have imagined. We all like to feel nice and good about ourselves, right?

And then along comes pregnancy. Your body is no longer your own. Your lumps and bumps expand. Quite rightly so. Often what you eat and how much you exercise will only delay the inevitable. In the end, you will waddle and you will feel enormous. So what does that do to body image?

You buy maternity clothes that are designed to support your growing bump. To hold it close. To protect it. To allow for it to grow even more. To show it off. To hide it. Whatever you feel like doing with your bump. But what about everywhere else? Women put on weight all over their bodies, not just on their bellies. We can’t all wear skinny jeans with a bump band. We expand. We puff up. We are human. We may not like it, either. What then? Is there where support underwear for pregnancy comes in?

I would say yes. I wear such garments in ‘real life’, so why not in pregnancy? I know that my view is not shared widely amongst pregnant ladies, and that there is a view we should let it all hang out, embrace our new curves and delight in the changes our bodies are presenting us with. But I can’t. I don’t want to. And I don’t have to.

So this week, I received some Mama Spanx. The focus of our debate over on Twitter. And I have to admit that I really only bought them (partially) to prove that there is nothing wrong with support underwear in pregnancy. Ladies, they are not as scary as you might think! They are in NO WAY as supportive as normal everyday Spanx. They are a lot softer and stretchier. The belly panel is as thin as a normal pair of tights (with less support than a pair of maternity tights from H&M that I own). The sides are slightly thicker but, again, nowhere near as thick as normal Spanx. They do hold you in a little, but only like a pair of tights would. The legs do NOT cut off circulation. They are the same thickness as the sides and there is no hem at the ends so they fit smoothly on the leg and they do not dig in.

Mama Spanx are a little like wearing granny knickers. They offer a little more support than cotton briefs but they are no wonder pants when you are used to normal Spanx. But guess what? They smooth you down a little. They do that job I like, which is hiding bumps and lumps. With the right dress, I can wear these Mama Spanx and I can feel a little more in control of my uncontrollable body. My growing bump is in no way effected. They are less restrictive than my maternity jeggings. My verdict?

I will wear what is comfortable, yes. But I will also wear what makes me feel good about myself too. At a time where my body is not my own, and the changes are so rapid and so visible, I want to feel nice sometimes. Yes, I will slob out in pyjamas too, but sometimes I want to step outside feeling like a million dollars too.

Mother's Always Right
47 Comments

47 Comments on Body image and pregnancy

  1. Michelle Toward
    June 6, 2014 at 7:02 am (2 years ago)

    Whole heartedly agree! Thank you for having the bravery to embrace what is right for you. Feeling good about yourself is a huge deal, more so In pregnancy.

    Many first timers would have shied away after the debate so fingers crossed they can see that it’s a personal preference to wear underwear that makes them feel good x
    Michelle Toward recently posted..Sewing for babiesMy Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 6, 2014 at 9:58 am (2 years ago)

      I agree. And yes, if this were my first pregnancy I think that I too would’ve felt there was something wrong with supportive underwear full stop. I’m glad I’m OLD and wise now!! 😀
      x x

      Reply
  2. Nancy
    June 6, 2014 at 7:59 am (2 years ago)

    Only you own your body. I hate that people feel they can inflict their opinions on you. Wear what you want, do want you want, look how you want! Own it, baby!
    Nancy recently posted..The Curry Leaf Cafe, Brighton – a reviewMy Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 6, 2014 at 9:57 am (2 years ago)

      Love this comment! To be fair nobody was downright telling me what not to wear, but I was genuinely surprised at the reaction. I am old enough now not to be swayed by opinion most of the time though and I love my Mama Spanx! 😀
      x

      Reply
  3. Molly
    June 6, 2014 at 9:08 am (2 years ago)

    I think you have to do what makes you comfortable and happy. And if that means wearing special underwear then go for it. Of course it’s not to say that all pregnant women would want to do the same thing. And for many, body image doesn’t factor into pregnancy at all. I’ve struggled a bit with my own body image this time around – mainly in the first trimester when I felt big and clumsy but didn’t have a proper to show for it. Ironically, now that the bump is getting bigger and more noticeable I’m relaxing into my body again and starting to love it. I think the fact your body changes so quickly can be quite disconcerting. And they do say the whole “eat for two” thing is a myth. I’m eating what I want, but this time the things I want are mainly healthy things. I have a huge soft spot for tomatoes this time! Thanks for linking up to the #BlogBumpClub again – really interesting post. x
    Molly recently posted..The Blogger Bump Club Week 4 #BlogBumpClubMy Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 6, 2014 at 9:56 am (2 years ago)

      Yes, as my bump is growing I too am starting to feel more comfortable. I always forget how hormones play a part in all this too. But as for the tomatoes… they make me SO sick!! 😀
      x x x

      Reply
  4. SAHMlovingit
    June 6, 2014 at 10:20 am (2 years ago)

    What’s that song? “My body’s nobody’s body but mine”? Perhaps we should add “You dress your own body, let me dress mine”. You are, and always will be, beautiful inside and out xx
    SAHMlovingit recently posted..#MeAndMine – A Family Portrait (May 2014)My Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 6, 2014 at 10:28 am (2 years ago)

      Bless you. Thank you so much. Ditto.
      x x x

      Reply
  5. Lauren
    June 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm (2 years ago)

    With my boys I didn’t have a problem with my body. When I was pregnant with Dot, I full on hated my body. As shitty as it sounds, it made me resent being pregnant. I stopped blogging about being pregnant because I hated thinking about what it was doing to my body. Stretch marks weren’t an issue at all, it was the shape, the weight gain and the pure size of my arse!! Had I known about Mama Spanx I probably would have been first in line to buy them! I didn’t research anything like that though because I knew the fallout that I would get from being unhappy with a body that was growing a gorgeous baby. Well done for posting this.

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 6, 2014 at 2:35 pm (2 years ago)

      Now I thought you looked amazing throughout your pregnancy! I know exactly how you felt though, and I think a lot more women than you realise probably do too. I was so worried when I wrote this that people would think I was so shallow. I am just not one of those people that is comfortable letting it all hang out and in ‘real life’ I like to make an effort to feel good about myself. I don’t see why that has to change in pregnancy
      x x x

      Reply
  6. anita
    June 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm (2 years ago)

    thoroughly agree with you here, it’s your body – wear what you want & how you want! Plus if you didn’t point it out I wouldn’t have realised that you were wearing anything, just brush off the mean comments, they’re just jealous of you :)
    anita recently posted..MyChelle|Apple Brightening Peel*My Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 7, 2014 at 9:15 am (2 years ago)

      Thanks so much for your comment! I was so worried about posting this actually but at the end of the day like you say it is my body. And Mama Spanx is perfectly safe!
      x x

      Reply
  7. anita
    June 6, 2014 at 6:32 pm (2 years ago)

    thoroughly agree with you here, it’s your body – wear what you want & how you want! Plus if you didn’t point it out I wouldn’t have realised that you were wearing anything, just brush off the mean comments, they’re just jealous of you :).
    anita recently posted..MyChelle|Apple Brightening Peel*My Profile

    Reply
  8. Mel
    June 6, 2014 at 6:42 pm (2 years ago)

    I really enjoyed reading your post, Hun! Really honest. You look absolutely gorgeous in that first photo! I love really supportive vests in pregnancy, the kind that feel so tight you know your baby is warm and comfy! I guess it is down to personal choice, but I can’t see why you couldn’t wear supportive underwear in pregnancy. It is so nice to feel supported. I would definitely try that Mama Spanks! Xxx Mel
    Mel recently posted..Panic!My Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 7, 2014 at 9:14 am (2 years ago)

      It is personal choice. It was the thoughts that such underwear was dangerous to the baby that bothered me. I read an article that berated pregnant women for wearing Mama Spanx and one commenter even remarked that women who wore it did not deserve to have children! Unbelievable! Thanks for your support
      xx x

      Reply
      • Mel
        June 12, 2014 at 4:03 pm (2 years ago)

        Oh dear, that’s a tad over the top!
        Mel recently posted..Due dateMy Profile

        Reply
  9. mel @mydaysni
    June 6, 2014 at 8:46 pm (2 years ago)

    I totally agree you should be allowed to wear whatever you choose. During my pregnancies my choice would have been p.j.’s 24 hours a day, however I guess I cared at little bit about what people thought because I didn’t actually do that – I couldn’t have worn spanx either though! Do what’s right for you!
    mel @mydaysni recently posted..That Woman in the Mirror!My Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 7, 2014 at 9:12 am (2 years ago)

      Thanks, I intend to. Pregnancy can be so hard and it doesn’t make it any easier when you feel like an elephant. If I can delay that I wilL!
      x x

      Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 7, 2014 at 9:12 am (2 years ago)

      Ah thanks, that dress is one of my favourites- a bargain buy at Zara a few years ago!
      x x

      Reply
  10. Carie
    June 7, 2014 at 8:34 am (2 years ago)

    I think there’s a balance between dressing to feel wonderful in yourself and dressing because there is a societal or media pressure to look a certain way, even when pregnant (ie normal with a neat netball sized bump!) and perhaps we all shy away from getting too close to that line. I’m properly huge when pregnant, especially this time when my tummy muscles have long ago given up, and I add weight a little all over as well as the bump but I mostly love it, I can embrace the curves now, it’s in six months I won’t be too impressed with them! Good for you for dressing the way that makes you feel fabulous!

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 7, 2014 at 9:11 am (2 years ago)

      I think its a thin line too. For me, I know that I will never look like the media inflated women that much of society deems acceptable. But I do want to feel good about myself.
      x x

      Reply
  11. Tarana
    June 7, 2014 at 12:37 pm (2 years ago)

    I think it’s wonderful and brave of you to be so honest about how you feel about your body! Why should we have two standards for pregnant and non-pregnant women? You have a right to dress up the way you want to, and that’s it.
    Tarana recently posted..14 (more) things that drive your readers awayMy Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 8, 2014 at 7:33 am (2 years ago)

      You’re right! Why is there too standards for women? And why aren’t we allowed to take measures to feel good about ourselves at a time when we are likely to feel more vulnerable? Thanks so much for your comment
      x x

      Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 8, 2014 at 7:32 am (2 years ago)

      So so true. Thank you. I’m overwhelemed with the support, after feeling in the minority on Twitter!
      x x x

      Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm (2 years ago)

      I cannot wait for my bump to properly appear for that very reason!!
      x x

      Reply
  12. Steph Oakes
    June 9, 2014 at 12:32 pm (2 years ago)

    You definately have to do whatever makes you happy, especially when pregnant. For me, being pregnant is the only time that I don’t worry about what I look like, but I know when this little one emerges (in the next few weeks, eeek!) I’ll be back to the good old spanx and my worrying ways! Ps. you look totally gorgeous in those photos, I can’t believe you spent years as ‘the fat one!’ xx
    Steph Oakes recently posted..Father’s Day // Gift guideMy Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm (2 years ago)

      Haha thank you! eeek not long for you at all! Can’t wait to read your birth announcement!
      x x

      Reply
  13. katrina
    June 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm (2 years ago)

    A lovely post, & i totally support what ever individual choices may be-without any judgement. As long as you feel comfortable, happy & confident (well, as much as could be expected during a pregnancy) Then it really don’t matter what anyone else thinks. So pleased to have found a strong & confident woman like you, who isn’t afraid to say it as it is!! :) xx
    katrina recently posted..A Mother’s TouchMy Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 9, 2014 at 4:57 pm (2 years ago)

      Ah, thank you so much! I’ve had some really really lovely comments in support of this post, and I was so worried about publishing it!
      xx x

      Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 11, 2014 at 9:43 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you so much! Now that I’ve had the Mama Spanx a week, I can genuinely say that they are fab. Get some! And wow- I need to catch up with your blog. Baby 7! Amazing :)
      x x x

      Reply
  14. Honest Mum
    June 11, 2014 at 9:38 am (2 years ago)

    Totally agree with the all the comments honey and having met you in person too I can vouch you are utterly beautiful and a very slim woman. I am sorry what you ensured growing up, it takes years to relearn feeling good about yourself and I too have struggled with body image, it never quite leaves you and pregnancy is totally out of your control, hormones, sickness means weight gain happens as it should but it doesn’t make it easier. I have PCOS and it takes me a long time to lose baby weight and although yes all that is important is the baby, it doesn’t make it more comfortable as you go through the ‘losing’ part afterwards. Do what makes you feel comfortable. There is nothing wrong with support underwear, in fact my midwife encouraged bands to support my huge bump so what’s the difference? Ignore the back seat parenting, do what you want with your pregnancy, body and keep being amazing. Loved this. #sharewithme
    Honest Mum recently posted..Britax Car Seats ReviewMy Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 11, 2014 at 9:42 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you so much. It really does take a long time to relearn, especially when it is something as personal as body image. I have had so much support on this post, and I was so worried about posting it. Thank you lovely lady, you really are a lovely friend
      x x x

      Reply
      • Honest Mum
        June 11, 2014 at 9:44 am (2 years ago)

        Absolute pleasure darling, mean every word. Anytime you need anything or just to talk, I’m here and I totally understand. You are doing amazing and look beautiful as ever, hugs x
        Honest Mum recently posted..Britax Car Seats ReviewMy Profile

        Reply
        • ghostwritermummy
          June 11, 2014 at 5:57 pm (2 years ago)

          Thank you x x

          Reply
  15. Sam @ And then the fun began...
    June 11, 2014 at 9:58 pm (2 years ago)

    I agree – I can’t understand why anyone would be so negative about such a thing (although I understand there is a whole ’embrace your curves’ brigade!). You wear what feels right for you and particularly a brand which is designed specifically with pregnant women in mind. I think you’ve probably just sold Mama Spanx to a lot of expectant mums – ask for a commission! :-) #Sharewithme (PS I think this is the first time I have read your blog and I have to say I absolutely LOVE your header and background – Helen is a genius and your theme on her website made me want to choose her to design mine!) X
    Sam @ And then the fun began… recently posted..E is for…Eyes #alphabetphotoMy Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 12, 2014 at 8:34 pm (2 years ago)

      Oh, if you are looking to re-design I can’t recommend Helen highly enoug. She is fantastic!
      x x

      Reply
  16. Jenny
    June 12, 2014 at 1:02 pm (2 years ago)

    Ahhh bless you. I hate that you ever had to feel that way and were put through so much growing up about it. I did the same when I was first pregnant I ate for two and everyone commented on the house I became! I gained three stone and didn’t blink but the second time around I made sure to be cautious, and I only gained a stone. But in all seriousness it shouldn’t matter. As long as we are healthier, happy and confident it shouldn’t matter. A fat momma is a healthy baby is what we say in my small town. So true. I hope that you are happy and comfortable and never let anyone tell you to diet. Its your body and it’s your choice. So glad you shared your feeling though it’s hard to decide to do in a post. But glad you have gotten amazing feedback and I hope it has helped you!!! Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted..Missy Moo’s Milestones: 11 monthsMy Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      June 12, 2014 at 8:35 pm (2 years ago)

      It really shouldn’t matter and I know that. Part of my sensitivity comes from my desire to have a vba3c- I want to be as fit and healthy as possible I guess, to give myself every chance of success. I also want to feel nice!!
      x x

      Reply
  17. Jenny
    January 3, 2015 at 11:58 am (2 years ago)

    I think it’s a personal preference but I am shocked that you didn’t come across more pregnant woman wearing them. They are not anything like normal spanx so I think women get comfused that you are trying to actually wear really spanx. If I had known about mama spanx I would have worn them. lol For sure! I like dressing the bump but only when it’s nicely round and nowhere else is in agony but that wasn’t the case with me I was huge! Everywhere! lol Great post. Always good to have a friendly debate. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme
    Jenny recently posted..Me & Mine {December}My Profile

    Reply
    • ghostwritermummy
      January 9, 2015 at 9:47 am (2 years ago)

      Me too! I love spanx anyway and was thrilled to see they did a maternity versioN! x x

      Reply

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  1. […] much gone and I’m actually enjoying being pregnant (although I do miss the wine). I loved this post from Susanne over at Ghostwriter Mummy linked up to last week’s #BlogBumpClub. I could really […]

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