I was plus size and pregnant and it's transformed how I feel about my bigger body post pregnancy

Being plus size and pregnant means that now when I have negative thoughts I remember this one thing...

Plus size and pregnant woman in garden smiling at camera
(Image credit: Rose Stokes)

If you're plus size and pregnant know that you're not alone and it doesn't make you any less of a woman or a mother.

Pregnancy really puts your body through its paces right from the early signs of pregnancy to the morning sickness and pregnancy cravings to fielding questions on pregnancy weight gain. And writer, Rose Stokes was no stranger to all of this when she fell pregnant with her son. Here she talks about how being plus size and pregnant made her see her body in a whole new - and surprisingly - positive light, considering she grew up in the 'nothing tastes as good as skinny feels' era. 

Plus size and pregnant

I can’t remember a time before being pregnant when I felt completely comfortable in my skin. Like most other women I know, there were periods — albeit fleeting ones — when I felt more at ease in my body. And then there were times when I felt deep despair in the face of a body that, no matter what I tried, really wanted — or so it seemed — to be curvy. I think most of this will sound familiar to any woman who, like me, grew up in the 90s and 00s, when the pressure put on women in the public eye and elsewhere to be thin was peaking.  

Plus size and pregnant woman

(Image credit: Rose Stokes)

When my partner and I decided we wanted to try for a baby, I mentioned it to the doctor in passing during a check-up for something else. Quite sternly, they told me that the best thing I could do would be to lose weight before trying, telling me that my weight would almost certainly impede my ability to conceive. And despite the fact we were locked down as a nation, struggling to get out and exercise, I tried all my might to lose weight. But for whatever reason, it didn’t happen, and in the end, we decided to just try anyway and see what happened.

"I knew that this was the only context in which my bulging tummy would and could be celebrated socially"

Regardless of my low expectations around conceiving, it happened pretty quickly for us. In those first few days and weeks, in between bouts of intense sickness, tiredness, and emotional ups and downs, I felt completely awed by what my body was doing. For the first time in my life, instead of looking at my body and listing its perceived deficiencies (chiefly, that it wasn’t naturally able to maintain an “acceptable” figure), I was reading about how it was growing a whole new organ to support my baby, how it would accommodate that new person during its gestation and actually bring them to life. Incredible! Ten out of ten! No notes!

I embraced clingier clothes for once, and began dressing in a way to emphasise my tummy, which was an idea that totally contradicted how I’d approached this part of my body for all of the preceding years, when it had been a source of deep shame.

Alongside this, as my belly grew and grew, I was able to appreciate the changes to my figure, because I knew that this was the only context in which my bulging tummy would and could be celebrated socially. I would marvel at its growth, and thank my body all the time for doing such an amazing thing.

Nothing could have prepared me for how the process of giving birth would change the way I looked at myself, and my body. And how grateful I would be for everything of which it was capable. I have never, ever felt more proud of myself than I did that day, and I am not sure I ever will.

A year and a half into motherhood, I wish I could say that I’d managed to cling on to this newfound acceptance of the size and shape of my body. I wish I could say I was completely at peace with it. But the pull of diet culture and social media is too strong, I’m afraid.

Nonetheless, when comparing the way I view my body now to before I had become pregnant, I can still see a real softening. I am gentler than I was, kinder and more patient with myself. And also, to be quite honest, I have much less time for self deprecation than I did before I had my son. And whenever I find myself falling into the familiar spiral of despair, I remind myself that this body grew my favourite person from scratch, so how could I not at least try to love it?

If you're pregnant and wondering what that darker line on your belly means? Take a look at out Linea nigra explainer, and if you're further along and have heard about membrane sweeps, then take a look at our piece to find out what are the positive signs after a membrane sweep.

Rose Stokes
Freelance writer

Rose Stokes is a freelance writer based in the south west. She has a regular column in the Metro and writes features and op-eds for various titles. She writes mostly on women, women's rights, sex and relationships and women's health, but — since having her first child in 2022 — has become increasingly interested in parenting-related issues, and particularly matrescence and new motherhood.