It might sound obvious, but pregnancy is no easy feat. Women's bodies go through many, often difficult changes - they are growing a human inside them, after all.
For mums-to-be, particularly new mums, these physical changes can often be tough to come to terms with - and while some have supportive partners as a source of reassurance, others unfortunately do not.
For one expecting mum, her self-confidence was torn to tatters after her partner repeatedly spurned her changing body.
Sharing her story anonymously via social media, the woman revealed that she has been struggling with her self-esteem throughout her pregnancy - and her husband has only exacerbated her insecurities.
The woman, who is currently 34 weeks pregnant, said her partner has "always been polite and overall a great husband", but a different side of him has come to light throughout her pregnancy.
"Over the last months he's been making some comments that have really hurt my feelings and self-esteem. Frankly he finds my pregnant body unattractive. I know some are jokes, but others he fully means," she shared.
The woman then listed a number of the insults her spouse has openly directed at her body, including that he finds her baby bump "disgusting", among other insensitive and hurtful comments.
"He hates my belly. He calls it disgusting. He doesn't want to see it, ever. I no longer feel comfortable changing in front of him," she confessed in the candid post.
"I really didn't mind my pregnant body up until now. Now I just feel awful and gross and terrified of how grossed out he'll be with my [post-pregnancy] body.
"I don't know what I hope to accomplish by writing this. I guess I just needed to get it off my chest and share with someone because I can't tell my friends or family. Does anyone have any advice on how to approach my husband after the fact? I feel so defeated and don't know where to start."
The woman's heartbreaking story prompted a number of fellow Reddit users to offer their support. Several noted her spouse's comments were signs of emotional abuse, with many urging her to reconsider the relationship.
"The worst part is I would probably never get over it. Most bodies will keep at least some signs/changes after going through a pregnancy, be it weight that is hard to shed, tummies that aren't as tight anymore, changed breasts. If he can't love you regardless, then how are you expected to ever feel sexy and confident around him again? His comments are just unforgiveable," one user said.
"Even with a supportive husband some of these changes are hard to get used to, let alone with a man like that."
"'Polite and overall great' husbands don't say things like this to their wives or anyone! I am completely disgusted on your behalf. I would feel awful if I were hearing things like that from the father of my child," another user seconded.
"That's someone you should trust, who shows you respect and kindness no matter what. If you can, be honest with him and tell him he absolutely cannot speak to you that way. Is he going to speak to your child like this?"
"He's not 'joking'. Mine would be packing his bags if he ever said anything remotely hurtful like that," a third added.
Another advised: "If your friend had made just ONE of these 'jokes' in passing while grabbing a coffee together, you'd probably block them and never [speak] to them ever again.
"Even when you're emotionally invested in your husband and potential family, you can't let blatant disrespect slide. Your husband is clearly out of line. I'm talking about bang out of order. No one is expecting him to find a pregnant body attractive. But disgusting? That's cruel and pathetic especially when she's only like this because she's carrying your child."
"His disrespect is appalling, frankly. You don't deserve that. I'm so very sorry you're dealing with this," another agreed.
"Your pregnant body is inherently beautiful because of the miracle of life it is creating! Your body is working so hard and comments like this are absolutely unnecessary and flat out cruel.
"You deserve better, so much better. Your belly isn't disgusting, it is currently nourishing and protecting your unborn child."
In an update to her original post, the woman thanked the community for their support and clarified that while she was unhappy, she didn't feel unsafe in her relationship.
"I know some of you are concerned about my safety so I wanted to say I am safe. My husband is not aggressive/volatile. An asshole, shallow jerk, etc? Definitely. I also recognise this behaviour isn't acceptable which is what prompted me to write this post and ask for advice on how to circle back and approach these hurtful comments," she said.
"He most likely has no idea these comments have hurt me and done (what feels like) irreparable damage to my self-esteem."
In 2019, an Australian mum spoke candidly about the bullying she had been subjected to on social media regarding the size of her baby bump while pregnant with her second child.
Elisha Bakes said she received numerous comments about the size of her bump after she shared a picture of her growing body to mark 14 weeks.
"From when I was 14 weeks pregnant the comments started. As this was my second pregnancy, I popped a lot sooner than the first time," Bakes said.
"I posted a picture 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."
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- Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
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- Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584.