One very common fear I've heard women mention many times over the years is:
How will I look in my pregnancy? Will I just look like a giant blob or will people be able to actually TELL I'm pregnant? Will I have the cute pregnant basketball belly too?
And the answer is......it TOTALLY varies. Some fat folk look TOTALLY pregnant and some never do. Some don't look pregnant until near the end.....and some look pregnant right away.
A lot depends on your particular shape and size. If you are a "pear" you will probably show your pregnancy more quickly and obviously than an "apple."
If you have a rack o' doom, your pregnancy might not be as obvious because the boobs tend to overshadow the belly.
Women who are much larger tend to show less obviously than those who are closer to "average size"-----but I've seen very large women who were obviously pregnant and very petite and small women who didn't show their pregnancy much at all. You never know.
A lot depends on the position the baby is in, too.
If your baby is posterior (head-down, but the baby's face towards your tummy), then the baby's rump doesn't stick out nearly as much and you tend to look less pregnant, even at term.
But if your baby is anterior (head-down, baby's face towards your back, which is a WAY easier way to give birth, believe me!), then you tend to get the "basketball belly" look, because baby's rump is hanging out more forward.
[And actually, knowing the position of your baby is really important because fetal position does influence how easy or hard your labor is, and whether your baby fits easily through your pelvis. Poor fetal position is a cause of many cesareans......but more on that in a future post. Just know that it's good to be aware of your belly shape because it can tell you important things about your baby's position before labor.]
Really, whether or not women of size "look" pregnant and at what point depends on so many factors. And even those are generalities; not everybody follows the "rules." You just have to wait and see how you carry.....but in general most fat women actually DO look pregnant at some point. It's just not always right away.
One strategy to avoid the "Is she pregnant or is she just getting fatter" looks is to get some cute, obviously maternity shirts and start wearing them right away.
Empire waist or babydoll-style tops and dresses make you look more "pregnant" than tent-y shirts, which tend to just make you look elephant-ish.
Later in pregnancy, slinky silky knits tend to cling to the baby belly and accentuate it; these were some of my personal favorite pregnancy outfits.
If you are one of those folks who can't bear the cutesy nature of a lot of maternity clothes (and who could blame you?) yet who still dreads the "Hmmmm, is she pregnant or not" looks, don't worry about maternity clothes.....but put your hand on your belly and mention the pregnancy prominently any chance you get. That will get the message across too.
Certainly you don't need to conform to anyone else's perceptions about what you "should" look like or dress like when pregnant, so don't feel the need to do this kind of thing if you don't care what people think....but I know from my email that many women of size do worry about this kind of thing, a lot.
If it makes you feel better, go ahead and wear a maternity-ish shirt early or subtly remind people through words and gestures that yes, you are pregnant as well as fat.
And enjoy the beauty of your baby belly, whatever it looks like. Baby bellies are amazing and blessed miracles, whatever their shape and size.
*Photo from my friend Lexi at www.birthislife.blogspot.com.