From Our Readers

Pregnancy May Be Beautiful, But It’s Not Glamorous

I am pregnant and I work in fashion. I know what you’re thinking: “But having babies is so fashionable. Look at Beyoncé and Gisele and all those Victoria’s Secret models.” Yes, the rising popularity of the name Maddox and the movie What To Expect When You’re Expecting prove that procreating is trendy. But here’s the thing I’ve learned as a first time mom-to-be: while starting a family may be en vogue, pregnancy is not glamorous.

This is especially true when you consider that the definition of a glamorous woman today is basically one of those Victoria’s Secret models: impossibly thin and tall with unproportionately large breasts, thick glossy hair and perfect skin.

To be honest, I did luck out in the hair and skin department. My normally thick hair has only gotten thicker and shinier and my complexion (when not dulled by dark circles from lack of sleep) hardly needs any makeup, which is good because I’m often too tired and lazy to apply it. But despite my increasing bra size, the weight gain and belly, of course, disqualify me. And the current definition of glamour continues to include four-inch heels (I now wear sneakers to counteract swelling ankles and back pain) and a fabulous wardrobe (have you seen maternity clothes?). Plus, the glamour girl never breaks a sweat or worries that she may lose control of her bladder.

Don’t get me wrong. Pregnancy is beautiful, magical and even empowering – but it isn’t always pretty. You become slave to your bodily functions; peeing every ten minutes, being tortured by gas pains and kept up at night by back aches. And here’s the kicker: no matter who you are (Victoria’s Secret models most likely included), you are told all along that your body is not normal. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a doctor or midwife who discounts these messages but the media, pregnancy guides, acquaintances and strangers alike will continue to tell you that something is wrong.

For instance, I have gained 33 pounds and still have two months to go. The BMI calculator on both my pregnancy app and a Canadian government website tell me that for my height and pre-pregnancy weight, I will gain between 25 and 35 pounds. At this point, I’m thinking it may be more like 50.

Ironically, my belly is actually measuring just a little small for my stage of pregnancy. Baby is healthy, I am healthy, but being that this is my first and that I had reasonably strong abs prior to getting knocked up, my belly, as my doctor says, is compact.

So basically, I’ve gained too much weight but don’t have that much to show for it. And the worst part is that every time I attend the launch of a new moisturizer or fashion line, someone compliments my small belly as if a small baby somehow equates to beauty—like I may never be a size four, but at least I’ve managed to keep my fetus from making me look too fat. It really is a terrible mindset. People like Jessica Simpson are chastised for gaining 60 pounds and looking “huge.” The woman is 5’3”. Whether she gains 10 pounds or the average 25 pounds you’re “supposed to gain” while pregnant, her small stature means that she will look bigger.

Babies, generally speaking, develop at about the same rate. Whether you’re 5’3” like Jessica or 5’8” like me, you have to carry around an infant who will come out weighing about 7.5—or in Jessica’s case—almost 10 pounds. And it’s not just baby that adds extra weight – there’s more blood circulating through your body, amniotic fluid, a placenta that weighs a couple pounds and a whole lot of water retention.

The amazing part of all of this, of course, is that you are growing a human being. It’s easy to forget unless you’ve actually been through it, that pregnancy is—as corny as this may sound—a miracle. And as strange as it feels and looks sometimes, when you see that baby move beneath your skin, you’re reminded of the life inside of you. That belly no matter how big or small is a very special thing.

So please, next time you see a pregnant woman who’s ready to pop or doesn’t even look close, don’t comment on how big or small she is, don’t judge the size of her belly. Think about how beautiful she looks and if you can’t do that, consider how tortured and tired she must feel and at least wish her a fast delivery—and soon!

Vanessa Grant is a writer and editor in Toronto, Canada. She is the online editor of

  • Joanne Summers Bero

    Beautifully put and may you have a speedy and safe delivery and SOON!! :)

  • Brooke Sherman Dougherty

    I have gained 35 pounds and I have 10 weeks left. I’m right there with you. The impossibly skinny checkout girl at the grocery store comments how big I am every time, I want to punch her but I am too exhausted! Good luck to you!!

  • Beth Hannah

    I am pregnant too, but I have a different mind set. I love my belly! And yes, hollywood does glamorize it, but we all know at the end of the day, Gisele is probably ecstatic she can eat a hamburger or an extra piece of cake. I know that i am thrilled to be able to stop counting calories, and feed my body when it wants food, and to some degree, what it wants. If you gain a few extra pounds, why does it matter? Pregnancy is for your baby to grow healthy and strong- not for you.

  • Christina Martinez

    I’m pregnant with my second, 14 1/2 weeks along and have lost weight. Yeah it’s normal, especially for me being overweight and I eat a lot better when I am pregnant ( I guess I should think I’m pregnant all the time). It’s not glamorous but it is beautiful, especially during late stages when your boobs leak all over a nice silk shirt.

  • Katie Igler

    I like it! But I’m at the stage where I wish strangers wouldn’t talk to me at all!

  • Melissa Osorio

    I agree, it is not easy by any means but oddly enough I felt the most comfortable and confident about my body while I was pregnant. I loved my belly :)

  • Courtney Shafer

    I love this post! I am pregnant with my second and this time I had to let go of the idea of “normal pregnancy weight gain”. I don’t want to over eat, but I also don’t want to starve myself and the baby. It’s hard being pregnant in such a skinny and fat obsessed world. Once you let go of those nasty ideas, it makes things a lot easier (at least it did for me).
    I hope you get to savor all the glamorous pregnancy moments from here until delivery, and move quickly through the non glamorous ones.

  • Caishnah Nevans

    I want to print this out and hand out to the commuters on my train to work each morning. My bump and I salute you for this great piece! x

  • Kris Garvey

    I’m with Beth and Melissa – my maternity jeans were nicer and looked more expensive then my regular jeans! I gained the 30-35 pounds I was supposed to so I guess I was lucky, but I never felt as beautiful as I did when I was pregnant. I don’t wear makeup anyway unless I’m going out, so this didn’t change. Plus I got away with wearing moccassins to work and no one complained. I wore most of my non-maternity shirts throughout my pregnanct as well – the tank top I wore into the hospital was a tank top I have had for years. Sure, my feet and ankles were swollen, I was constantly tired and peeing, but whenever I got a comment or compliment on my baby or how I looked, I never felt better!

  • Bonnie Vitale

    I just recently started trying to conceive with my husband. I dread the whole weight part. If anyone comments on how big I’m getting then I might have to respond in kind, if applicable, “my how big you are getting too!” Might earn some stunned silence. :)

  • Ofelia Eugenia Margain Silva

    I’m 20 weeks pregnant, it’s my first baby, and it’s a really amazing experience, it’s not glamorous but it is beautiful. I have gain a 10 ponds until now and hope to not gain a lot because I’m too small. I love my belly because it’s getting a cute round shape. But also what makes it a beautiful experience is my husband, my family that is there for me and my baby. =)

  • Lauren Bell

    Yes. my friend (who just had a baby) and I were talking about this very thing. I’m almost 3 months in, and already I wonder why people always refer to pregnancy as beautiful and i’ll never look better. Because, frankly, the amount of acne I have, I’m sure I could pass for a 14 year old boy staring puberty in the face. Or the fact that none of my clothes fit because my boobs are the size of watermelons. And I am not a big girl by any means. But the nausea has kept me from the gym – and I don’t even want to think what my weight will be like in 6 months. So thank you for reminding those out there in the beautiful world that though it is an incredible, life-giving, miraculous thing, that pregnancy can be a bitch. :)

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