Any woman who has experienced pregnancy has likely received the same infuriating comments from friends and strangers alike. These remarks range from well-intentioned ignorance to outright rudeness. Whether it’s from the clerk at the grocery store or Karen in HR, everyone feels entitled to an opinion when it comes to the bodies and actions of pregnant ladies.
In the past, like most pregnant women, I’ve smiled and nodded at the observations of others, no matter how insulting. But now, on my third pregnancy in four years, I simply feel done with meek acceptance of other people’s impoliteness. Pregnant women have to deal with a myriad of indignities from our own bodies. The last thing we need is to put up with the nonsense of a societal peanut gallery convinced it has the right to weigh in on every moment from conception to college graduation.
So, this pregnancy, I’m putting my (swollen) foot down. The following six comments are hereby banned from existence. And anyone who utters them will have to deal with the wrath of a hungry, hormonal, fed up pregnant lady.
1. Unsolicited opinions on belly shape or size.
You know what no pregnant lady in the history of the world has ever enjoyed hearing? Any comment about the shape and size of her stomach. Whether it’s the classic “wow, you’ve really popped” or the “I can barely tell you’re pregnant!”, no woman wants to hear what Gary from Accounting thinks about her stomach. Also, unless you are an OBGYN or directly asked, it’s creepy and weird to remark about how high or low a woman is carrying or use her belly shape to guess the gender of her unborn child. And I think we can all agree that it should be a criminal offense to ask any pregnant lady, “are you sure it’s not twins in there?”
2. Should you be doing/eating/drinking that?
You know what I have (safely) enjoyed throughout all of my pregnancies? Caffeine. And fish. Tuna fish, especially. And deli meat. I also exercise. And occasionally have a piece of safely prepared sushi. And even more rarely, a few sips of wine. You know who is entitled to opinions on these behaviors? Me and my OB. That is literally the end of the list. Even if you are just itching to share that study you read about the dangers of processed food in Pseudoscience Weekly, hold it in. Live your life. Trust that pregnant women have the intelligence and agency to make their own choices under the guidance of their doctors.
3. You have such a cute waddle.
This one might be an especially personal trigger. But I have a special hatred for the word “waddle”, even though when I’m pregnant I hear it frequently. The truth is I do “waddle”, as do many pregnant ladies. However, it’s because, like many pregnant ladies, I have hip and back issues. What you may see as a silly gait brought on by my huge belly is in reality the result of my pelvis literally being pulled apart during pregnancy. It hurts as much as it sounds, and the last thing I want to hear when I’m limping my way through Target is the “w” word.
4. Was this planned?
I am still slightly incredulous that this is even on the list, just because it’s amazing to me that people will routinely ask whether or not someone’s unborn child was or was not an accident. But something about pregnancy destroys other people’s filters. Questions that would be considered widely intrusive or inappropriate are suddenly fair game. For the record, on behalf of all pregnant women, let me just say, there is only one answer to this question, and it applies in every situation. NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
5. Shock stories about labor.
There’s a strange phenomenon when you gather a group of women together and one is pregnant. What was once a pleasant dinner or family party suddenly turns into a ghoulish campfire exchange of horror stories. Aunt Sally just has to go into detail about her thirty-nine hour labor, and cousin Peg wants you to know exactly how many stitches she received in her you-know-where. Much of this comes from a well-intentioned desire to share experiences and help prepare a new mother for what’s to come, but trust me, no pregnant woman wants to hear in advance all of the gory details of the labor experience. Even if she’s been through it before, let her at least try to live in ignorance for a little while.
6. You’ve got your hands full.
I know I’m a little bit of a walking sideshow right now. There’s something about the sight of an obviously pregnant woman out in public with a three-year-old and one-year-old that seems to really draws the eye. People are either amused or horrified. I hear a lot of “so how close will they be?” or “this was really intentional?” I get it. It’s a lot. But please, unless you want to offer to help me haul my double stroller in and out of my trunk, or watch my son while I take my daughter to the bathroom, or simply offer an understanding smile, I don’t need to hear about how overwhelming you find my life. Trust me, I’m overwhelmed enough for both of us.
I get why people have a lot to say to pregnant women. There’s the whole miracle of life, promise of the future thing. And nine times out of ten, the comments are completely well-intended. However, when you hear them for nine months straight, they start to get a little old. So, unless you have something particularly kind or lovely to say to a pregnant woman, maybe just smile and hold the door for her.
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