Being plus size and pregnant means that most people won’t know you’re pregnant. You will live and breathe as a pregnant woman, but to the outside world, you are simply plus size – only larger – and will be treated as such.
During pregnancy, most women can expect a reasonable amount of accommodation once they start showing. As a plus size woman, and a larger version of yourself, accommodation won’t occur. In some cases, you may feel mistreated or discriminated against as a larger person.
Some people will think you’ve been “letting yourself go”. Those who don’t know you will not recognize that you are growing a new life inside you. You’ll almost never get offered a seat on the train or some extra room to pass by in a crowded walkway. No one will think twice about bumping into you or squeezing past you. Waiters will ask you if you’d like wine with your dinner or to hear about their new cocktails. You may try to put your hand on your belly in public, to touching it softly, maternally, in hopes of finally communicating to society that there is something special.
This is a belly that, for once, you love. This is a belly you are proud to have – a belly that should be regarded with care, not contempt, as larger bellies often are.
You may get so frustrated that you announce your pregnancy to everyone you meet. Or you will continue on quietly and privately, trying not to feel hurt. Your partner and friends may advocate on your behalf to get a seat at a crowded restaurant or bar. “My friend is 7 months pregnant, can we take that seat?” In most cases, the treatment will change, making you realize that – though it’s obvious to you – your pregnancy is still a secret artfully hidden by your plus size body.
You’ll spend weeks wondering if you’ll ever develop a bump – a bump that announces itself and is greeted with happiness and excitement. In the mirror you’ll practice poses; arching your back, placing a hand just so on your hip. After years of training yourself to suck in your stomach and hide your rolls, you’ll practice relaxing and letting that bump stick out.
Will it get round?
When will it be round?
Please let it get round!
Maternity clothes won’t fit you. You will have to look for plus size maternity clothes, which can be found almost exclusively online. They are generally unflattering, overpriced, and unattractive. This shouldn’t surprise you because when you reflect on this you will realize that plus size pregnancy isn’t portrayed anywhere in the media. You rarely encounter any ads with plus size pregnant women in them. The average size for a woman in the US is 12-14. Even these women are not the moms-to-be we see represented in the media.
Care providers and others may assume there’s cause for concern when it comes to the health of your pregnancy, based solely on your size. In most cases, their assumptions won’t carry any scientific merit. Nevertheless, you’ll feel constant pressure to defend your healthy body, with your wholesome diet.
Most pregnant women are faced with dodging unwelcome touching, but you can expect no one to reach out for your childbearing belly. They may not be certain enough to be so bold.
Later in your pregnancy, you’ll notice staring. People will try to discern what your large belly means. Then, they’ll stare a bit too long, too busy to notice you staring back because their gaze fixed on your midsection. You’ll be tempted to say, “Yes! It’s a pregnant belly. Just not one that you are used to seeing.”
I want to tell you that I know what you are going through and that you are not alone. You are not invisible to me. While all of this is going on around you, pay attention to the magic going on inside of you and let it give you strength.
(Gold Dress: Maya Plus Long Sleeve Sequin Dress)
It is a struggle to be plus size and pregnant but pregnancy can be incredibly transformative for plus size woman’s relationship with her body. I have spent years struggling to love and appreciate my body.
Pregnancy has helped me develop a body positivity I have never experienced. You have to be good to your body in order to be good to the life you are growing within it. The love that you have for your baby flows through your body and softens how you look at yourself.
You will develop a love and pride for your belly and body that society taught you not to feel.
(Red Dress: KOH KOH)
As a plus size woman, over the years I’ve battled a slight detachment and resentment for my body. Especially when you’re often encouraged to “fix” or “improve” yourself. As a pregnant woman, my body is not letting me down. My body is not something I’m trying to fix. In fact, my body is incredible. I can say that with certainty now – “My body is incredible.” It’s creating and sustaining life!
Instead of detaching myself from my perceived imperfections or going to battle with my body at the gym, every day I am more and more connected to my body and its marvels. When I eat healthy, it’s to serve my body and my baby. It’s not a restriction so I can lose ten pounds.
When I exercise it’s not penance for eating ice cream. I exercise to make myself strong and to make a healthy environment for my baby. Improving your diet and exercise should always be in the name of self-love. Yet, when you’re taught from a young age that your body is somehow “wrong” it’s nearly impossible to make changes in a self-nurturing way. Pregnancy provided such healing in this area. I want to nurture my body and care for it because it’s serving me so well.
Taking maternity photos and documenting this journey was not only an expression of love for my baby and my husband. It was also an act of self-love for my body. While I may not look pregnant on the train or in a restaurant, I am a proud pregnant woman and I want people to see what my body looks like pregnant. I want people to see a body that I am not ashamed of or trying to fix.
I want women who are plus size pregnant to see themselves represented and celebrated during pregnancy.
It’s important that, while we might miss out on the special treatment that comes other pregnant women’s way, we cannot miss out on the power and beauty that pregnancy gives us.
As a pregnant plus size woman, you may feel invisible but then, instead, you must take every advantage and opportunity to celebrate your pregnancy.
Dress up your bump and put it on display. Don’t cover it in misshapen plus size maternity clothing. Find a photographer, partner or friend and take maternity photos that celebrate what your body looks like during this special and fleeting time. Photograph yourself. Share those photos and speak your truth.
Eventually, we will be recognized. Eventually, we will be seen.
Thank you Mia O’Malley, for writing My Invisible Plus Size Pregnancy, and saying what many of us experience but can’t quite put into words. Breathtaking photos by Rachel Lindsay. Mia shared, “With the help of some good underwear, the right dresses, and my talented friend and photographer, Rachel, I was able to put my bump (my unique and beautiful bump) on display.”
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- 4 Ways To Normalize Plus Size Pregnancy
- What My Obese Pregnancy Taught Me About My Body
- Lady In Red: My Dream Fitted Plus Size Maternity Dress
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