From the National Eating Disorder Association Blog 

How to Talk about a Pregnant Woman's Body: Don't.

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that most people know better than to touch a pregnant woman’s stomach without permission. Right? Can we agree on that? Unless the pregnant woman in question is a close friend or relative, the belly is a hands-free zone.

Why, then, has a pregnant woman’s body become a perfectly acceptable topic of public consumption? Why do friends, coworkers, and even perfect strangers feel the need (and the right, even) to verbally document their opinion on the growth of pregnant bodies?

When I was pregnant with my son last year, I was appalled and often embarrassed by the way that people felt entitled to comment on my body. Even though, if I’m being honest, most of it was intended to be complimentary, I never knew how to respond. 

“Oh, wow, you’re all belly,” co-workers would tell me. “I’m so jealous, you barely even look pregnant!” Um, thanks? Am I not supposed to look pregnant?

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From the York Dispatch "Tales From the Crib" blog:

For the record, I’ve never had a good relationship with my body.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had what you might put mildly, “body image issues.” Unfortunately, when I hit college, those “issues” manifested into a full-blown eating disorder. After about a year and a half of starving myself nearly (literally) to death, clocking in at 5’9” and 82 pounds, with a heart that was failing, I was finally, mercifully, hospitalized.

Since then, quite honestly, I’ve struggled on and off. My eating disorder has always lurked in the background, sneaking up on me when I was most vulnerable. But for the most part, I’ve become a healthy, happy, plucky member of society.

The statistics claim that one in four women will deal with an eating disorder on some level in their life, and I know that I certainly don’t know many women who I would call completely comfortable with her body. Sadly, these are mostly gorgeous, wonderful women who can’t see themselves the way that others see them.

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Facebook makes it really easy to cultivate a life. You get to pick and choose what aspects of your life people find out about, and you get to hide the messier bits. As far as 80 percent of your friends are concerned, you are always happy, going to exciting locations, winning awards and having flattering photos taken of your perfectly made-up face.

I’m not complaining. It’s fun!

But it does make it a little intimidating for a first-time mom who naturally gravitates toward the photos of other moms and babies. I see babies who are always laughing and adorned with monthly stickers alerting me to their age, and moms who somehow have time to do all of that, plus make a month’s worth of Crock-Pot meals, straighten their hair, and go on regular outings with their well-behaved children.

So, in the interest of putting it all out there,  I’ve decided to do the exact opposite and share some of my mom fails, hiccups we’ve had, and the less glamorous side of having an infant.

1. My babies cries. Frequently. He cries every day. My very sensitive little man has no trouble letting me know when he’s upset about something. So even though he’s grinning away in the photos I post – and honestly he’s happy and bubbly and bouncy 90 percent of the time – he cries. I don’t take pictures of these moments because, well, I’m busy being his mama.

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© 2012 by SARA SHAW. No animals were harmed in the making of this site.

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