People often jokingly warn each other about not mentioning the size of a pregnant woman's belly or the amount of weight they have put on while carrying a child.
However, what many fail to understand is that some women really do have a hard time accepting the weight gain and dealing with the changes to the body, so it's always best to avoid bringing up such a sensitive topic.
Karene Eggleton from Australia recently opened up about being fat-shamed while 21 weeks pregnant with her fourth child, and the toll it had on her as an expecting mother.
What's worse is that Eggleton was left feeling "greatly ashamed and embarrassed" by none other than a midwife.
The 44-year-old accountant revealed that was recently told that she needed to "lose weight and go on a diet," after a routine checkup at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital's antenatal clinic.
The midwife informed Eggleton that her BMI was high and then "referred me to a 'get healthy program,'" which is supposed to teach expecting moms "how to diet and exercise properly in order to lose weight while pregnant."
"I was really shocked. It wasn’t handled sensitively, I felt great shame and quite confused as I feel fantastic. I’ve never been one to get wrapped up in body issues and things like that, but at that moment I felt so embarrassed and self-conscious. I’ve been doing everything I can to ensure my baby is healthy. I eat clean, I exercise daily and do yoga once a week to prepare for the birth."
The mom admitted that even though she was sure she was doing everything right, and isn't obese, she still began to question herself.
"I’ve never been told that I’m overweight throughout any of my pregnancies. It’s only this one midwife that had ever mentioned my weight. I didn’t even think it was safe to diet while pregnant. I’ve gained 9lbs and I’m halfway through my pregnancy, so I think that’s pretty normal."
Eggleton added that for someone who has battled anxiety and depression in the past, being told to lose weight while pregnant could be a trigger. She credited her strength for helping her get past the midwife's comments.
"It’s really damaging. I’ve battled anxiety and depression in the past, but throughout this pregnancy I’ve been feeling great both physically and mentally. If I wasn’t so strong right now, it could be easy for someone like me with mental health issues to let that consume them."
She is now sharing her experience to encourage other mothers who may have gone through something similar during or after pregnancy.
"Unless absolutely necessary, there is no reason to add this kind of fear and shame to pregnant women who are already stressed about everything. I feel gorgeous, glowing and healthy. I’m just going to relax and enjoy the rest of this incredible journey."
While Eggleton mentioned that the program the midwife wanted to enroll her in was for weight loss during pregnancy, Jill Ludford, Chief Executive of Murrumbidgee Local Health District, said that the initiative is "not a weight loss program but aims to assist women to get healthy during pregnancy."
She added, "Get Healthy in Pregnancy offers a free, confidential coaching service to assist women to eat healthily during pregnancy, get active, gain or maintain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy, not drink alcohol during pregnancy and return to their pre-pregnancy weight."