Woe betide the pregnant female human. The second her jeans start stretching over that growing abdomen, her entire being apparently becomes public property. Strangers will pass comment on her size and shape; make predictions about the baby’s due date, gender, political leanings and sexual orientation; give unsolicited advice by the bucket-load (“I hope you’re not going to buy soft cheese?!”) and will fairly often ask to fondle said bump (just for the record: it’s a no from me). All while bearing down on the poor mother and encroaching in her personal space. Because you’re not your own person any more: you’re a mother. Public property. Get used to it.
Meanwhile, the bump-oblivious section of the population (hello men! #notallmen obvs) continue on with their normal lives, fairly often disregarding the specific needs of a pregnant mother for slightly more room than your average human. Busy places, like train carriages at rush hour or busy high streets, can feel quite intimidating when you are literally carrying a tiny, fragile human life in the space between your hipbones.
Particularly as this ovaried* person will have only had a matter of months to get used to being this size, so sometimes needs reminding of her new dimensions in order to get through a turnstile or navigate a doorway. For those that like analogies, it’s a bit like getting a new car that’s got a big front bumper but (horror of horrors) no bloody parking assist. And the car gets bigger every day. You’re constantly on high alert, watching for those really annoying low bollards or surprisingly high kerbs.
And then there’s the issue of the bump not being made of pixie dust, but encasing an actual living, wriggling miniature human – complete with super sharp elbows, knees that could rival Michael Owen for keepie-ups, fists that could go 10 rounds with Mike Tyson and feet that kick and kick and kick and kick. Pregnancy leaves your innards feeling like one massive punchbag. Then there’s the nausea, the aches and pains, the constant toilet trips… a 3kg lump having a party in your pelvis is no picnic.
So it is literally The Most Logical Thing ever to hold your bump. To protect it, to assess it’s changing size, to soothe those fractious limbs back into submission and to ease the discomforts of pregnancy. AND THOSE ARE JUST THE BORING REASONS.
It’s also bloody lovely, and magical, and fills your heart with joy when you feel your baby wriggle around inside of you. It’s so utterly surreal and wondrous that we can just make a human life and grow it inside a person.
Holding your bump also provides a moment for connection, to think about the impending arrival, and maybe have a chat with it about how life will be on the outside (“pleeeeeeeeease sleep!” I wish I’d said more…).
So to say that a woman is holding her bump for “pride, vanity, [or] acting” (I don’t really want to link to this but here’s the article) is just negating the experience of being pregnant. These people are treating her as if she has a prosthetic strapped on, not as if she is a human person carrying a human baby (conspiracy theorists, I have no truck with you).
Yes, she’s married to a prince; yes, she’s an actress; yes, she’s super in the public eye. But she’s still a mum-to-be, complete with all the exciting, nerve-wracking changes that evolution involves. And you can bet every photographer is begging her to touch the bump, because they know that image will definitely sell. Because if a pregnant body is public property, then a pregnant sort-of princess is apparently global property.
Give the girl a break for goodness sake. Her bump holding is normal, natural and probably quite sensible, considering the media melee that greets her every movement.
And the mums on The Motherload® Facebook community have come out in solidarity with Meghan, sharing their bump-holding selfies and the reasons why they held their bump:
Beth – Even before I was showing I was constantly holding my tummy because I was so happy and proud to be having a baby!
Laura – I held my bump so people knew I was pregnant not just fat!
Sarah – I worked in a coffee shop and the baby would jump when the milk frother went so I used to hold it in anticipation!
Leanne – My hand was constantly on the bump. I mean your body has suddenly sprouted a huge egg shaped dome in front of you, where else are you going to lay your hands? And that thing needs some winding in from time to time, those feet trying to puncture the outside world via the thin layer of skin keeping it in, sometimes needs tamed. I don’t think you can fight that sort of impulse.
Jade – I sometimes held my bump to help stop fanny daggers… cos OOUCH! Or because I felt sick, or needed to pee, was hungry, my child was incredibly heavy and I was lifting it off my cervix so I didn’t pee myself… Or simply because he was kicking the absolute shit out of me and holding onto my bump felt like I was keeping my innards in place
Lydia – I remember sitting watching tv and I’d look down to see I’d built a wall of pillows around my bump without thinking, husband pointed out I was protecting him. If I had to get out of a car with dozens of strangers waiting to meet me and cameras on me I’d be holding it like her too.
Tina – With my eldest I had no choice but to hold my bump – ended up as huge as a house! I’m tall and I literally looked like I was pregnant with triplets…
Viki – [my bump] generally just became a comfy place to rest my hands – especially if I felt a little awkward… I never know what to do with my hands!
Emma – I had to hold mine cos I felt like my fanny was falling out from about 26 weeks….
Zoe – Honestly felt like my belly was just going to split in half! I loved touching my bump, made me feel as if I was bonding with him before he arrived. Miss the little movements and kicks, they kill now he’s here…
Anucyia – I always held my bump because I had a miscarriage before and I wanted to feel my baby and give her a cuddle. Also, I cradled my bump a lot whenever I felt nervous or stressed and maybe that’s what she’s doing because she’s always in the public eye. People should just mind their own business.
Laura – I remember the whole way through the pregnancy holding my bump but also feeling like I was going to fail as a mum… Then a colleague at work said to me “do you know how I know you’re going to be an amazing mum” I asked why and she said “because right now you are holding you’re bump. You’re already protecting your baby and she’s not even here yet” her saying this made me so emotional and almost happy…. so hold your bumps ladies and don’t care who’s watching
And we’ll let this top MOLO have the last word…
Hayley – What sort of world do we live in where people feel it’s necessary/appropriate to comment on a woman holding her bump. Cradling, protecting, the most precious thing in her life. Honestly I am lost for words. Maybe we need to make Meghan an honorary member of The Motherload® so we can stand in solidarity with her. Go Meghan, it’s your body – do as you will.
*definitely should be a word!
Image credit: The Motherload®