Jan 202013

“I love the jiggly belly! ” –  Birth assistant commenting to mother who was shaking immediately after birth.  The mother was very uncomfortable with her weight.

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 January 20, 2013  birth, Fatness, Midwife, postpartum  Add comments

  22 Responses to ““I Love The Jiggly Belly!””

  1. Unless my name is Santa, you can totally STOP commenting on my belly.

  2. I always wonder about people who say things like that: are they socially clueless, or are they closeted bullies who have no one else in their lives they can feel powerful over?

    (I say closeted because this is phrased as a positive thing, which if you objected to, you’d be “too sensitive,” but it’s clearly not a compliment.)

    • Bully or not, a birth attendant should damned well know that labor shakes require, not a “cute” or “funny” or “humorous” comment, but warmth and somebody the client trusts close by to offer an embrace or handclasp if needed.

    • I can’t speak for THIS birth attendant, but I truly was this clueless at one point. A mother came to a midwife I was working with on a referral for an ultrasound for suspected twins. I was told in advance that the reason they suspected twins was because she was quite large for gestational age. She showed up and looked so beautiful and pregnant and awesome that I blurted “You are big as a house! You look so beautiful!”

      I had NO idea that pregnant women didn’t like comments on their size. The other midwife (whose client this was) told my midwife that I was insensitive and would never make a good midwife since I obviously lacked the social intelligence to know mom didn’t want it pointed out that she was huge.

      I have come a long way and learned a lot and have never been accused of being insensitive with my language again… but sometimes birth attendants need to be guided in learning about how to speak to women who are sensitive about things THEY are not sensitive about.

      • In your defense, many women do like having a pregnant belly and it’s certainly culturally the norm to talk about it. I don’t see that as hopeless or over-the-top insensitive.

        A mom who’s shaking after birth is feeling vulnerable. She’s physically spent and her body is having an uncontrolled reaction; her body has just ejected another human being and hasn’t returned yet to its previous shape. For someone to comment on her jiggly belly when the mom is helpless and quite possibly unclothed and physically spent — that’s a whole different class of comment than “You’re as big as a house! So beautiful!”

        A woman going in for an ultrasound for suspected twins is powerful and is in command of herself. A woman shaking after birth is cold and feels out of control. That’s so different.

        And it sounds like you have plenty of social intelligence. :-)

      • If it makes you feel any better, I would have hugged you for saying something like that :) In both my pregnancies I was grumpy that I didn’t have the big round belly – or, I thought I didn’t. Only in retrospect looking at photos did I realise I actually was quite round lol

      • Before I was a mom I said some very stupid things to pregnant women and mothers whose children were already born. Sometimes we don’t know better until we transgress, then we can learn and do better. :-)

      • You know what makes you different than some other attendants who sometimes say the wrong thing? You were willing to learn and change.
        Thank you for understanding that we’re not all the same.

      • I’m not saying anything negative about your comment specifically, because it sounds like you really are a sweet person who would definitely have meant no offense (not to mention that the followup of “you’re so beautiful” definitely helps), but it always amazes me that when a woman is pregnant it’s somehow acceptable in the minds of a giant segment of the population to comment on her weight or size. It’s not okay the rest of the time, so why is it suddenly okay because I’m pregnant? Comments like “look at your adorable pregnant belly!” or “you look so fantastic!” are more than welcome, of course, but “look how gigantic you are” is one that should be just as unthinkable when a woman is pregnant as when she isn’t.

        • I wonder if it’s not a carryover from long, long ago, maybe an idea that if you were huge you must be carrying a healthy baby, as opposed to a scrawny and sick baby? Maybe in a time where food was scarce and malnourishment common, a huge baby belly was a hopeful sign that the baby would do okay?

          Not an excuse, just some mental meanderings.

          • This is the case in China today. Even when saying hi to someone, it’s common to say, “Ni chi le ma” = “Have you eaten yet today?”

        • I actually had the opposite problem– people kept telling me how small I was. I think this was an attempt at a compliment in our weight-obsessed world that I wasn’t gaining much despite being pregnant. The problem was my first and second babies were born IUGR, so these “compliments” would send me into a tailspin of worry. And, by the way, I wasn’t all that small when I was pregnant with my twins. People thought I was due any day at 5 months.

          • I think the moral of the story is, no weight comments whether it’s “wow, you’re tiny!” or “wow, you’re so small!” Any mentions of beauty and glowing are welcome. ;)

  3. I’m glad you love the jiggly belly, but probably not nearly as much as I’m going to love your bloody nose!

  4. Wtf? The woman just had a BABY, noone should be commenting on her appearance.

  5. This was mine. She grabbed my flabby belly and said this a few minutes after the baby was born. I don’t think she meant it to be mean, she was a big girl too but…. anyway this stuck with me most about the birth. Naked, can’t talk because my teeth are chattering and can’t hold my almost 10 pound baby because I’m shaking so hard. Lots of commotion but I remember her grabbing me and jiggling it a little more. Would have had a witty commment but like I said I couldn’t stop shaking. Otherwise the hbac was perfect.

    • I’m disgusted by the fact that she grabbed your belly and shook it even more. What a horrible birth attendant. If it wasn’t too long ago, please complain up her chain of command. That’s so disrespectful of your body.

    • I agree with Jane. As in my example of my ignorance above, sometimes even well-meaning people say or do upsetting things. She will never know that this was inappropriate (and no mistake, it was TOTALLY inappropriate) unless someone tells her so. A good birth attendant won’t even get her feelings hurt by being told what she said or did was wrong, so don’t worry about hurting her feelings. When I was told what I had said was wrong I was glad someone said something so I wouldn’t make any other moms feel uncomfortable.

      So glad that you got your HBAC, though! Congratulations!

    • For some odd reason, this reminds me of something completely non birth related. I used to do a lot of acting in my younger days. I was very thin then – too thin, really. I ate normally, just had a high metabolism. Anyway, I remember a particular wardrobe mistress who would never miss an opportunity to say something nasty about my figure. Her favourite was to mock my small breasts. Now, of course, I wish I did have smaller breasts rather than my post-baby melons…

      When I did have my baby, I remember a midwife suddenly putting her hands on my breasts, without any warning, whilst she was discussing feeding the baby. It reminded me of how vulnerable a woman feels when she is post-birth.

  6. I think it is always a bad idea for people to make comments to pregnant women to the effect of, “Wow, look how big you are!” Even comments that are ancillary remarks on size such as “Are you having twins?” or “No, you can’t be just 4 months along” are terrible. I remember having a co-worker who put on a lot of weight early in pregnancy, and people just would not stop asking her if it was twins or telling her the doctors must be wrong about how far along she was. Idiots.

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