It does. It really really does. It’s hard enough to be a woman and judged on all the things women are ‘supposed’ to be, but then you get pregnant and the wave of unasked for judgement and advice increases exponentially. It’s insane what complete strangers feel obligated to tell you or admonish you about. Complete. Strangers. And it’s just because you’re pregnant, I can’t find any other connection. And let’s not forget about well-meaning family members and friends. They all have advice, too.
I know several women who are pregnant right now and are going through all the same shit I had to go through when I was pregnant with each of my daughters. What is that you ask?
1. Invading personal space. Yes, that’s right. People you have never met want to touch you. Not on the shoulder or back or arm. On your damned stomach. They don’t ask they just come reaching for you and your pregnant brain starts playing the theme from ‘Psycho’ as you stare at that hand coming closer and closer. You have a split second to decide how to react. Do you bite it? Scream? Politely decline? However you react, the toucher is ALWAYS offended, as if THEY were the ones who were touched inappropriately and without permission. Get the hell away from me, lady. You touch me and you’ll lose that arm.
2. The belly. OMG, all the weight issues women have about themselves are infinitely worse when they are pregnant. Now, everyone has an opinion. I don’t care WHO you are, do not ever, ever, ever, ever tell a woman she looks huge when she’s pregnant. She knows this. She is the pregnant one. She knows exactly what she looks like. During my second pregnancy, I was living with my mother-in-law and then her parents who came to visit for Christmas AND THEN STAYED TO SEE THE NEW BABY. That was two moths worth of in-laws. Every damn morning when I went into the kitchen for breakfast, my husband’s grandfather would look at me up and down and tell me that I got bigger overnight. Every. Damn. Day. Thank you, loving grandfather. THANK YOU. In addition to this, women gain weight during pregnancy. Some gain a lot even though they’re extremely healthy in their eating habits. Some don’t gain any. Don’t assume that if a woman is already up 40 pounds by her second trimester that she’s eating nothing but chocolate. She may be living on salads and quinoa, for all you know.
I found this on that newfangled ‘internet.’
3. Food. “Should you be eating/drinking that? I heard that [insert food/beverage here] was bad for the baby.” IS IT?! I DIDN’T KNOW THAT. I HAVE NEVER READ ANYTHING ON THE INTERNET EVER. Added to this advice is the fact that you are always starving when you’re pregnant. Always. I don’t care if you ate an entire quart of ice cream ten minutes ago, now you are hungry again and you want …pizza, yeah. Pizza. So you try to curb the pizza craving by eating a nice salad because of vitamins and shit, but then you throw it up as soon as you eat it. So you try some fruit. Nope, that’s rejected too. Ok, pizza it is. Sometimes all you can do is eat what you physically CAN eat without barfing. Don’t judge the pregnant woman for drinking that coffee or eating that muffin. I was on a vacation with my husbands family during the later part of my first trimester and suffering from morning sickness. Every time I puked, I got to hear “it was all that FAT you ate for breakfast!” or “you shouldn’t eat such sugary food.” What sugary food? I had one Twinkie three hours ago. That did not make me puke, thank you. Stop judging me.
4. Birth plans. “Are you getting an epidural? You shouldn’t and here’s why.” Thank you stranger on the bus. Yes, I LOVE discussing my personal medical choices with you. I would absolutely LOVE hearing your gruesome birth story. I’m so not terrified enough already. You are helping me so much.
No more! Please!
5. Breastfeeding. Breast is best! Yes, it might be, but it’s also totally fine to use formula. I breastfed each baby for a full year. A whole damn year! Let me tell you something: breastfeeding is not something that happens naturally, it tends to hurt a lot in the beginning, and it keeps you tethered to your baby as long as you are doing it. And pumping. Pumping is the worst. So, while I managed to do it for a full year, I can completely and totally understand why someone would just say “fuck this shit” and use formula. Parenting is hard enough, thank you, without having to dick around with just basic feeding. Not to mention mothers who need medication that isn’t safe for the baby or have poor supply issues or whatever. Never ever judge a woman for not breastfeeding. And yes, this conversation happens before the baby is born. A lot.
Our culture wants to help pregnant women, I think. Most of the advice comes from a good place, but it just comes across as judgey. And pregnant women can’t help the puking. Or the hormonal rage that happens when you try to touch her without permission. Please do everyone a favor and commiserate with her but only offer advice when asked. Most women are intelligent and have doctors and books and the internet to turn to for things and are more than capable of making decisions that are best for them.