When I was pregnant for the first time, I developed bad morning sickness. Fortunately, being a copywriter, I was able to work from home. But towards the end of my pregnancy I was asked to go in to the office, as they wanted to give me a leaving present before I went on maternity leave. Only, I didn’t go in.
I’ve never told anyone this before, but the reason I didn’t return to the office wasn’t just because of the sickness, but also because I was embarrassed about my bump. My daughter weighed in at a whopping 10lbs 7oz, so towards the end of my pregnancy I was fairly big. And I thought my colleagues would laugh at me.
It wasn’t all in my head. A friend remembers walking down the street with me when I was nearly due to give birth and people stopping to stare at me, whispering to each other. She hadn’t yet had a baby, and couldn’t believe that pregnancy could garner so much attention. When I said I felt paranoid about people looking at me, she was able to confirm it.
Of course, every woman will feel differently in pregnancy. Some will adore and embrace the growing bump, while others will feel self-conscious, as I did. But research suggests that women feel more negative towards their body image in the last trimester than during the conception process, or in the beginning stages.
And so the fact that Khloe Kardashian is being criticised on social media for cradling her baby bump is incredibly disappointing. Following well-documented fertility issues with her first husband, Lamar Odom, Khloe Kardashian conceived a baby with boyfriend Tristan Thompson. She announced the pregnancy to her fans via an Instagram post in December.
Clearly proud of her changing body and growing baby bump, Khloe has since posted multiple photos of herself on social media. But people have taken this as an opportunity to accuse her of smugness, with one woman writing on Twitter: ‘Khloe Kardashian is already annoying me with the hand under her bump on every bloody picture we get it [you’re] PREGNANT .’
Following a barrage of similarly negative tweets, Khloe hit back. ‘People are very opinionated about my bump,’ she wrote. ‘I’ve waited for this VERY short moment for YEARS. I have only months to enjoy this phase in my life, so I will touch my bump and love my bump as often as I choose.’
People are very opinionated about my bump. I choose to cradle my bump because it’s MINE. I’ve waited for this VERY short moment for YEARS. I have only months to enjoy this phase in my life, so I will touch my bump and love my bump as often as I choose. Mommy loves you baby! ❤️— Khloé (@khloekardashian) February 28, 2018
Pregnancy can be a time of high sensitivity, as your body is going through so many physical and hormonal changes. Therefore, to be chastised online for how you present your pregnancy can feel like a huge blow. Women should never be slammed for enjoying and celebrating their bodies; we need more body confidence, not less.
I wish I’d felt as in awe of my growing bump as Khloe Kardashian does. As it is, I spent most of my pregnancy trying to hide it - ashamed of how big it was; scared that people would be shocked or think it looked ugly. I know other women who have felt judged for the opposite: for their bumps being ‘too small’.
As always, we need to follow the pregnant woman’s lead: if she’s comfortable showing off her bump - great. If she wants to experience her pregnancy in private, and keep it off social media, this should also be fine. It’s important to support women on this journey towards becoming mothers - without criticism, and certainly without judgement.
Annie Ridout is founder and editor of digital parenting and lifestyle magazine The Early Hour, and a freelance journalist.