Most of the time, being a petite woman is a blessing. We have more opportunities to date guys of all heights. We can shop in the juniors’ department and wear super high heels without towering over others. We’re usually perceived as cute and spunky. We also tend to look younger than our age.
But sometimes being petite can be a pain. It’s hard to find mature clothes that fit properly (not all of us want to dress like a teenager!) It’s difficult to reach high things and see over people. It’s easy to get picked on and treated like a child.
Another time when being on the short, small side can be problematic is during pregnancy. Petite women face unique challenges that other pregnant women may or may not experience. Here are just a few of those challenges.
8Being Mistaken for a Teen Mom
A petite woman is more likely to be mistaken to be younger than she really is, especially from the back when her face isn’t visible. She even may be thought to be as young as a teenager. If people assume she is a teen mom, they may not treat her with the same respect as they would a pregnant woman who they think is old enough to be a mom.
With that said, true teen moms shouldn’t be treated that way either. Being pregnant is hard enough without extra judgment and negativity from complete strangers!
7Looking Like a Beach Ball
Because petite women are short and small, there isn’t much room for the changes their bodies go through. The baby belly, larger breasts, and overall weight gain can make a petite mama look as round as a beach ball.
If she manages to stay relatively thin, then her growing belly can seem to stick out further and attract even more unwanted touches from strangers than usual. If her belly doesn’t grow very large, she may receive insensitive comments about not really feeling uncomfortable or even being pregnant.
No matter a woman’s size before or during pregnancy, growing a baby is full of real physical discomforts that shouldn’t be dismissed or minimized.
6Feeling Like Baby Is Squashed Inside
The lack of ample space for the baby to stretch may cause a petite woman to feel like her little one is cramped inside. Baby feet can get pushed into the mother’s ribs, and she may carry her baby very high. This positioning makes it hard for her to breathe in fully.
The good news is that this can easily be solved with a trip to the chiropractor. After being properly aligned, you should feel roomier inside and be able to breathe in more deeply. Don’t just head to any practice, though. Make sure the chiropractor is trained in the Webster technique, a type of adjustment specifically designed for pregnant mamas. It can even help turn breech babies.
5Finding Maternity Clothes
Finding clothes as a petite woman is hard enough without being pregnant. Adding on a round belly can make it even more challenging. Many maternity styles are designed with average-sized women in mind and can be too long or baggy on short women.
Some petite styles don’t work for women who grow rounder than other petite moms do. However, I think it’s safe to say that clothes shopping is a frustrating endeavor for almost all women—pregnant or not, big or small.
The only positive is that petite women may be able to wear their regular clothes for longer and buy normal clothes in bigger sizes instead of having to shop in the maternity section. It’s worth a try!
4Being Monitored for Weight Gain
Petite women are usually advised to gain more pregnancy weight (28–40 lbs./13–18 kg) than their average-weight peers (25–35 lbs./11–16 kg). Providers may watch these women’s weight more carefully to ensure they are gaining enough in order to prevent premature birth or underweight babies.
It’s important to take into account pre-pregnancy weight, BMI, genetics, and health conditions, among other things. Make sure your provider knows all the facts about you so you are given accurate, custom guidance on how much weight to put on.
3Having Shorter Pregnancies
A recent study found that height is a factor in pregnancy length and that shorter women tend to have shorter pregnancies. This can result in preterm babies and other complications. Before you freak out, remember that height is only one factor in dozens that affect how long your pregnancy will be and what size your baby will be.
You can’t change your height, so worry about the factors you do have control over to ensure as healthy a pregnancy and labor as possible.
2Being Labeled Too Small for Vaginal Birth
Providers often tell petite women they are too small to give birth vaginally, especially if the baby is measuring big or labor has stalled, and should opt for a C-section because it’s safer. In truth, the number of women who truly have too narrow pelvises is low and has nothing to do with body size. The condition is called cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD).
Ultrasounds are inaccurate at determining baby size and may lead providers to tell women, petite and not, that their babies are bigger than they really are. A mom always puts her baby’s safety first and may decide to choose a surgery that ends up being unnecessary. It’s important to remember that C-sections come with risks as well, and the risks of all birth options need to be properly known and weighed in order to come to the best decision for your situation.
Even if petite women do have big babies, that doesn’t mean they can’t push them out vaginally, and even without interventions. The Big Baby Project documented evidence of women of all sizes who gave birth to very large babies.
For women in stalled labors, there are numerous ways to make labor progress, such as trying new birthing positions to open the pelvis and angle it better.
1Being Treated Like a Child
The youthful look common to petite women can work against them in labor. Providers, nurses, and other medical personnel may not take them seriously or treat them as adults. They may be talked to condescendingly, bossed around, or completely ignored. Granted, this happens to other women as well and is unacceptable.
A woman in labor should be empowered and in control of her experience, no matter what it—or she—looks like. It’s smart to have a plan of what to do if you are treated disrespectfully. Make sure someone on your birth team, such as your partner or doula, is designated as your advocate so you can focus on birthing your baby.
Watch for signs throughout your pregnancy of a rude or demanding provider. Do your homework when choosing where you will birth as well. It won’t guarantee you won’t have any issues, but it will decrease the likelihood of it happening.
What are some other problems you petite women have faced during pregnancy?
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