I heard the term 'bumpie' for the first time last week. I'd seen plenty of them on social media, of course, but I just didn't know that photos of my pregnant friends in different stages of bloom were in a genre of their own. The bumpie: a 'bump selfie'.
Bumpies are so popular that there are now apps designed to capture the image of your growing bump. You can then upload the photos to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, along with a caption, so you can share your pregnancy with friends and family.
There's also the bumpie hashtag: take a look at #bumpie on Instagram and you'll be greeted with an array of delightful bump images, including pyjama-clad comfy bumps, dressed up fancy bumps, and some bikini bumps too. What's not to love?
Well, quite a lot, according to Sally Peek at The Telegraph. She has complained that the trend for bumpies is "exhibitionism of the weirdest kind".
"When you post a photograph of yourself on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, what are you doing? It's essentially the 21st century version of 'do I look fat in this?' You're fishing for compliments," she writes.
Peek goes on to say that bumpies encourage women to become competitive about their bellies. She adds that sharing images of pregnant tummies encourages others to make unsolicited comments that can be unhelpful to the mum-to-be.
"Naturally, any comments (always from people with zero medical expertise) induce anxiety: Is my baby too small? Too fat? If it's as giant as this woman says it is, will it not fit out? Is it kicking too much? Too little?"
While this may be true, surely anyone who is consciously choosing to upload a bumpie to social media is aware that they might have to deal with some bump critique. In the era of social media, the same could be said for any sort of selfie or status update we make.
Rather than fishing for compliments or competitive bump showing, isn't it possible that pregnant women are just sharing their experience of pregnancy because they are enjoying it?
Fashion blogger Deauvanné Athanasakis has been posting bumpies throughout her pregnancy. "I am so proud of my bump and I love showing it off. I just love the whole feeling of being pregnant and watching my tummy grow," she explains.
Far from finding bumpies competitive, Athanasakis notes that she has found a lot of support through Instagram. "I've made a lot of wonderful connections on Instagram. The whole experience has been positive and supportive for me," she says.
And Athanasakis doesn't believe there's a competitive side to sharing bumpie photos "If I was posting pics of a flat stomach straight after giving birth that might be deemed as competitive, but I definitely won't be doing that!" she says.
I didn't take many photos of myself during either of my pregnancies. During the first, I suffered from horrible morning sickness so wasn't inspired to capture the image of my ballooning tummy; during my second pregnancy, I was too busy running around after my energetic toddler to style and photograph my bump. I now only have a couple of photos of that special time.
My children, now pre-schoolers, are fascinated with the stories of their births and the fact that they grew inside my tummy while I got on with other things. They often ask to see pictures and I only have a few to show them. I don't have many regrets about that period of my life, but if I could do it all over again, I would take more bumpies.