A mum-of-two has told of how she was brutally bullied over the size of her bump during her pregnancy.
Elisha Bakes, 30, from Melbourne, Australia was told her bump was "gross" and that she "must be expecting a horse" while pregnant with her son Kaelen.
The mum, who works as a personal assistant, gave birth last month but struggled to cope with the deluge of negative comments while expecting.
Elisha, who already has a son, Kyson, 21 months, with her partner Tane, says the negative comments started when she shared a picture on Instagram of her at 14 weeks.
Immediately, people started telling her she must have got her date wrong as she looked much further along.
Elisha would explain that she is only five-foot-three-inches tall, while her partner is six-foot-three-inches tall.
Naturally, this would likely cause a bump which looked large in proportion to Elisha’s small frame.
People continued to criticise the size of Elisha’s bump, even telling her that she was eating too much and assuming her diet was unhealthy as they thought her bump was far too large.
As her pregnancy progressed the comments only became worse as people told Elisha she looked as if she was "expecting 78 babies".
Elisha said: "I found out I was pregnant when I was six weeks along, I had just stopped breastfeeding my son and we fell pregnant straight away.
"I had such a good pregnancy though in terms of health. I didn’t experience any sickness, but I was always hungry. The last couple of months were the hardest because I experienced a lot of pelvic pains and the last month or so it was very hard to walk and be out and about.
"When I was fourteen weeks pregnant the comments started. As this was my second pregnancy, I popped a lot sooner than the first time.
"I posted a picture when I was fourteen weeks and people were saying I must have the date wrong and be much further along, or I was eating too much and not being healthy.
"When my third trimester started, I started to receive more and more comments about my growing baby bump. They would always be very repetitive, including that I was having 78 kids, people saying I was giving birth to a horse or it must have been triplets.
"People would also say hurtful things like ‘why is her bump so big? I better not get like this’ and that it was the biggest bump they’d ever seen.
"People would even comment on my Instagram pictures saying the size of my bump was gross and say, ‘I hope I never get that big’.
"Even during my first pregnancy, I would receive negative comments. By the last month of my pregnancy, I was very big and would receive comment after comment, similar to the ones I received during my second pregnancy.
"A lot of people would question my height. I’m five-foot-three-inches and my partner is six-foot-three-inches. I have a small torso and carry it all outwardly.
"I would have to try and explain this to people when they asked about the size of my bump. I also tend to carry a lot of fluid."
Elisha said being open about how the negativity she experiences has helped her to connect with other mums.
"When people tell you that you look gross or suggest you’re not leading a healthy lifestyle during your pregnancy, it can be hurtful," said Elisha.
"I think people have an idea in their head about how a pregnant woman should look, sometimes based off their own experiences, so when they see a woman who is carrying larger or smaller, they feel the need to comment and give their two cents.
"I had hundreds of messages from women who had experienced the same thing. They told me how they would get very anxious about people commenting on their bump and would make them feel very insecure and not be able to enjoy their pregnancy.
"This would range from women who carried small and they would have people ask if they were even pregnant or telling them that they had looked bigger after eating a pizza. Some women were told they needed to eat more, whereas I was told to lay off the food.
"I ignored them 98 per cent of the time. I have thick skin so I just continued to embrace my pregnancy and baby bump while I could.
"The comments were always worse online. I would receive many nice compliments from women when I was out shopping or something.
"When I was six months along, I would often get asked if I was due to pop any day. I would get a very surprised reaction letting them know I was only 24 weeks along.
"In a way, the comments don’t stop when the pregnancy stops because after I gave birth, people would say ‘oh he only weighed eight pounds’. I think a lot of people were eager to see how big he would be, expecting him to be huge.
"I love sharing my journey online because I express my feelings in my posts. I like sending reminders that everyone carries differently and there are many factors that determine how you carry, such as weight, height, your partner’s genetics, fluid, pregnancy conditions.
"I get so many messages from women who would tell me how I have given them more confidence and make them feel better about their bumps.
"Comments regarding a woman’s size can really impact how they feel about themselves. Hormones are already running wild and adjusting to your changing body isn’t easy, so hearing hurtful remarks about your body can only have a negative impact.
"No matter what size you are, pregnancy isn’t easy."
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