Brisbane fashion designer Yiota Kouzoukas is preparing to give birth. Her first baby is due at the end of January.
The thing is… She doesn’t look like it. Posting a picture of her nine-month tummy to Instagram, the co-owner of Sabo Skirt hardly appears to be carrying at all.
Before the wrath of the internet descends in the tumble of questions and accusations that so often occurs with anything pregnancy related, there is a very real, very difficult reason behind the size of her baby belly.
“For the first four months of my pregnancy, my uterus was retroverted which means that I was growing backwards into my body rather than outwards,” Yiota, 29, told Femail.
This phenomenon occurs in women who have a ‘tipped uterus’, according to AmericanPregnancy.org, where instead of being in a straight vertical position the uterus is tipped backwards towards the back of the pelvis.
In some cases, women are born with the the anatomical anomaly, AmericanPregnancy.org explains. In others, previous childbirths can affect the ligaments anchoring the uterus and cause it to tilt. Finally, it can be a result of scarring caused by endometriosis – a painful disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus, grows outside of it, also.
“Most people with this type of uterus tilt forward at around 12 weeks and continue growing outwards like you normally would,” Yiota told Femail.
LISTEN: Mia Freedman speaks to her cousin Syl, about an endometriosis diagnosis that turned her into a warrior for other women. Post continues after audio.
“My uterus didn’t ‘flip forward’ until well into being four months pregnant because of the backwards tilted position paired with decade old endometriosis scarring that I have on my uterosacral ligaments.”
“Basically, these ligaments are acting like anchors keeping my uterus ‘inside’ rather than ‘outside’, which is why I appeared smaller than most people for the first four or five months.”
The symptoms of endometriosis, according to Dr Marcin Stankiewicz, who wrote for Mamamia in April last year:
- Period pain before and during a period
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse
- Abdominal, back and/or pelvic pain outside of menstruation
- Painful bowel movements or urination
- Abdominal pain at the time of ovulation
- Heavy or irregular bleeding with or without clots
- Premenstrual spotting
- Extreme tiredness
- Difficulty falling pregnant
Kouzoukas is sharing her story to help raise awareness. The condition affects one-in-ten Australian women, Dr Stankiewicz says, but takes an average of seven years to be diagnosed, HuffPost reports.
“We wanted to raise awareness about the condition. It’s important to get support. Endometriosis does leave people feeling isolated,” Kouzoukas said.
“Be proactive, speaking to your doctor will make a big difference. I wish I’d seen one earlier. I was in denial for so long but it’s better to know earlier than later.”