A mum-of-two has spoken out about the harsh and judgemental comments she received from strangers regarding the size of her baby bump during her recent pregnancy, including being told she was "gross" to look at.
Eliana Rodriguez, a 29-year-old mum from Las Vegas who welcomed her newborn son, Sebastian, in June, has spoken candidly about the critical, disparaging and somewhat probing comments that were directed at her body while carrying her youngest child.
Speaking to 7Life, Rodriguez said she had a large bump throughout both of her pregnancies, and the size of her stomach during her most recent pregnancy was "exactly the same" as her bump while carrying Sofia, her now three-year-old daughter.
"I wasn't surprised at how big I carried because my first pregnancy was exactly the same," the 29-year-old told 7Life.
Rodriguez said there was a significant amount of amniotic fluid while carrying Sebastian, which contributed to the size of her bump. However, as she documented her pregnancy on Instagram and shared updates with her 50,000 followers, the mum said she was increasingly subjected to vitriolic comments about her appearance, including prying questions about her health and condition.
"The reactions that shocked me the most were women commenting negative or rude comments like 'gross'," she told 7Life.
"Pregnancy can come in all shapes and sizes, it's something we cannot control, and to have someone say I look gross is shocking, especially from another woman.
"As women we should uplift and empower each other, not the opposite."
Among the comments Rodriguez received throughout her pregnancy were, "you must be in so much pain", "you are huge", and "have you checked if there's another baby in there?"
On a clip of her baby bump shared with her followers in late June, a woman wrote: "I have never seen a belly like that."
"Never seen someone's pregnancy belly get this way unless there was twins [sic]," a second wrote, with a third adding: "The baby is going to walk out."
"Oh my God, why so big of only one baby?" another asked.
Speaking to the outlet about the rude feedback she frequently received, Rodriguez said that while she accepts the size of her bump may have prompted curiosity, the experience drove home the importance of "being kind to others", particularly online when comments can come across more critical than perhaps intended.
"Not everyone is able to handle negative comments without affecting them… I am not affected by them, however any woman going through depression or maybe has low self-esteem, this can really put them in a dark place.
"People should have love and compassion towards pregnant women, it's already hard to go through so many physical changes that you literally cannot control - not to mention emotional changes too.
"Regardless if a person is pregnant or not... I've always said if you have nothing nice to say, it's best to not say anything at all."
Rodriguez urged other mums-to-be and pregnant people to enjoy the experience and "beautiful journey" that is pregnancy, noting that as long as mum and bub are healthy, nothing else should really matter.
"Embrace your baby bump, be kind to yourself and do things that bring you joy."
In April, a woman revealed how she broke her tailbone while delivering her 22-inch son, a child she conceived with her far taller husband.
Documenting her experience on the video-sharing app TikTok, the young mum revealed that her son was in the 99th percentile of the paediatric growth chart - indicating he was taller and heavier than 99 percent of other newborns.
And in June, a New Zealand woman became a first-time mum at the age of 47 after mistaking the early signs of pregnancy for menopause.