Ask anyone: being pregnant is probably my favorite stage, so far, in the circle of life. How exciting to observe my physical changes, thoughts, and emotions as things slowly but surely progressed! How magical to feel a person growing bigger inside of me and eventually progress out into the world!
On top of this, it is such a beautifully intense process to go through. There are new meanings to be found, new views from which to see things. You can share all of these new perspectives and thoughts and feelings with your partner, bringing you closer as you form new connections based on new experiences. You can share the incredible excitement of creating a new life and inevitably creating a new picture of what life will look like for the two of you.
Because of all this, I really, truly would never complain about being pregnant. I do, however, have a few common opinions to share, based on my experiences being pregnant twice in the last three years, and based on the convos I’ve had of late with other preggos and new mothers.
Some general takeaways: we need help and support, but don’t need to be treated like we’re fragile. We need help and advice, but to be treated like adults who can make our own (great and just perfect for us) decisions. We want our pregnancy to be celebrated and discussed, but of course we also want to talk about something else, at least sometimes. We are, in the end, still just humans. So here are 15 ways that pregnant women get treated in incessantly annoying ways.
15 Like A Delicate Flower
To some extent, it is very nice, indeed, to be watched out for, to be cared for. Pregnancy is, in some ways, a somewhat delicate state. How nice of you to let me go ahead of you in the checkout line as I dance around needing to pee while holding my two-year-old! How considerate to ask how I am feeling today! And I really do appreciate you offering to put together a healthy snack for me and refill my water. All of that sounds just great.
What can get old, you see, is being constantly told we need to rest — maybe we don’t feel like resting. Maybe we feel like dancing our hearts out to Mariah Carey’s greatest hits while eating a candy bar. What can get old is being told to “be careful!” and “watch your step there!” Being pregnant may change your center of gravity, but it doesn’t make you a total klutz. Thank you, really, for watching out for us, but please remember, being preggers is a natural, common state, and we are not necessarily sickly, fragile, or in need of constant care. In fact, we’re stronger than ever!
14 Like If It’s Not The First Time, It’s No Big Deal
The first time around includes such perks as baby showers, strangers beaming with excitement when they hear you are not yet but soon to be a mom, family members giving you gifts and financial assistance, perhaps, and frequent check-ins from hubby, friends, family, and coworkers to see how you are feeling, if you need anything, and — most importantly — what fruit or vegetable your unborn baby currently resembles in size.
The second time around includes, most likely, no party. I had another girl, so I guess everyone assumed we would just reuse all the clothes we already had. We did, but still… Who doesn’t like new (tiny, cute as a button, soft, sweet, little) outfits for baby? Looks from strangers at the market are more often of concern than of excitement, as they watch you tossing a bag of crackers at your toddler while you try to bend down to grab the keys you dropped, which no one, by the way, is offering to grab for you.
13 Like An Idiot
I guess because they’ve been dealing with this whole pregnancy topic longer than we have, they think they know better than we do what is best for our bodies: nurses and doctors probably don’t mean to come across as condescending, but it sure can feel degrading to be instructed in something like a toddler in preschool on a topic we’re well-read in and know about pretty darn well from firsthand experience.
Tips and guidance in how to stay healthy are great. Opinions in labor pain management and birthing techniques? Sure. But can we please remember that they are just that — opinions? In the end, it’s nice to feel like the people caring for you trust you to listen to your body and do what you understand to be best for yourself. True, we value care, and true, we need information, but please talk to us like intelligent adults, not helpless children. I will never forget, mid urge to push at the hospital — after telling the nurse no, I did not want to change positions on the exam table — her looking down at me impatiently and saying very slowly, as if talking to a little kid, “You don’t want me to help you??”
12 Like An Emotional Time Bomb
Now this one’s tricky. It’s true that I had days where I would burst into tears without knowing why when I was pregnant. All I knew was that I needed to let it out. But still, it’s no fun to feel like someone is tiptoeing around with everything they say and do around you because they fear the wrath of the pregnant-lady hormones. The last thing you want is less communication at a time when things can feel scary and uncertain and talking with someone and hearing their reassurances and opinions can make you feel sooo much better.
Just because I previously claimed to abhor all Barbara Streisand movies, and then when I was preg sat happily weeping as I watched her and Seth Rogen in The Guilt Trip (Don’t judge! It’s about parent-child relationships!), just because I’m furious about being out of nonfat milk one minute and laughing gleefully as I nibble a brownie the next, just because one minute I’m jumping your bones and the next minute I’d prefer not to be anywhere near your beer breath … well, it doesn’t mean you always have to treat me like I’m potentially one word away from a meltdown.
11 Like A Petting Zoo With Free Admission
What really bothers me is when strangers touch my babies, especially their faces and hands, without so much as an introduction, and certainly without asking permission from me first. Having your pregnant belly touched by a stranger can for sure be weird, too, though. Awkward!
Would you approach a woman, a man, or anyone, for that matter, in Costco and put your hand on their abdomen out of the blue? So strange!
When the bump becomes obvious though, people do it. I usually really enjoy my personal space, especially in crowded places full of strangers, so perhaps surprisingly, getting a pat-pat on the stomach from a random grandma or two actually didn’t trouble me much at all. I loved being pregnant so much that I was pretty much extremely stoked and excited to think about it, talk about it, and celebrate it with anyone and everyone. For some women, though, this is strange to the point of rude or even unacceptable. Boundaries: they’re a good thing. Asking permission: probably a good idea before you go in for the grab.
10 Like A Spectacle To Be Stared At
Sometimes it’s great to be the center of attention, like when you’re all dressed up and posing for pictures with close family and friends at your baby shower, wearing a carefully curated outfit.
For some people, though, pregnancy makes them feel differently about their appearance and body image. To have random strangers speculate as to what week of pregnancy they are in based on how large they look can be uncomfortable, even emotional or hurtful.
It’s nice to appreciate pregnancy and want to share in the joy many women experience at the sight and thought of their gloriously growing bump. In some cases, though, just like with regular old non-pregnant people, it can be rude — don’t you think? — to stare. Just like the gamble of asking a woman when she’s due or how far along she is — based on the assumption that she is pregnant because of her stomach’s appearance — this one, I think, is sort of a gamble, too. Though a woman may smile and answer politely, I think I’ll keep in mind that not everyone is happy to be stared down and interrogated about their changing shape.
9 Like A Science Fair Project
I kind of thought it was cute when women at my office or in my social circles, usually younger or not quite in baby-making mode in their lives, would ask detailed questions, wide-eyed and eager to know about the changes your body goes through during pregnancy. They just wanted to know! What was my plan for childbirth? What exactly was going on with those ever-growing boobs? And how much more or little did I have to or was I capable of eating as my baby grew and my pregnancy progressed? I thought it was sort of fun, and was glad to discuss almost everything, especially, of course, with those I knew somewhat well. And with those I didn’t know as well, I saw it as a good opportunity to talk about something other than TV or the weather.
I wouldn’t, however, approach a pregnant woman and ask her any personal details about her breasts or reproductive organs or most personal thoughts, hopes, and fears about childbirth unless I would feel comfortable getting to that level of discussion with her if she was not currently with child.
8 Irrelevant At The Office
You know that picture in Back to the Future where the images of Michael J.’s siblings keep fading further and further away? Unfortunately, women can feel like they are the ones fading away — in professional importance — as they prepare to go on maternity leave.
Especially living in a city where many women choose to stop working because childcare is so fricking expensive that it often just doesn’t make sense to keep working out of the home just to be able to pay someone else to watch your kids - managers, coworkers, and HR professionals can be quick to just assume that once the maternity leave ends, that’ll be the last of you. Maybe they just start consulting you less on those big decisions, or maybe they seem to already be picking out your replacement. Is it fair? No way. Does it happen? Alllll the time.
Please, people, treat us like the important part of the team we are, and assume that if we say we will return to work, we probably will — stronger and more relevant than ever.
7 Immune To Remarks About Size
When, oh when, would it ever be kosher to approach an unfamiliar person in a public setting and comment on how large or small you found them to be, in your expert opinion? When a woman is pregnant — according to some, apparently!
I guess I get that if you’ve been pregnant or known pregnant women before, it’s sort of a fun guessing game to try to look at the size of the bump and estimate how far along a woman is. And maybe the older we get, the less stringent our filters. (“If I think it, why shouldn’t I say it?!”)
Clearly, though, if you pause a moment, you might realize that it could be anywhere from somewhat to rather offensive to approach a woman, pregnant or not, and make a remark about her size. Whatever size she is, well, that’s the right size for her. That’s the size she currently is. She probably doesn’t want to feel like she’s being judged for it, or like she’s bigger or smaller than she’s “supposed” to be based on how far along she is.
6 As If Our Noses Don’t Work
I looooved bell peppers, of all colors, my whole life. Once I was pregnant for the first time, I would ask you politely not to cut them while I was in the house. Okay, actually, not while I was in the neighborhood. Alright, in fact, please don’t even get them out of the fridge. Ya know what? Just don’t have them in the house at all.
Aversions are real, and that beer on your breath, fish in your microwave, or dressing on your salad might just be the thing your pregnant compadre absolutely cannot deal with being around at the time. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t respect your own cravings and desires. It just means, plain and simple, that if you don’t get that smell away from her right now, she’s probably going to vomit, probably on you.
Act accordingly, and if you can’t remember what sets her off lately, write it down, because if it’s bothering her now, it might be quite some time before she’s ready to see, smell, or think about the offensive item again.
5 Undeserving Of Cuts In Line For The Bathroom
Especially at the very start of pregnancy and very especially at the very end, life can revolve around one thing for pregnant ladies: needing, so very often and so very badly, to pee.
On top of this, we also must always be hydrating. It helps us to be and feel less swollen and stay healthy in general. So that makes us have to pee even more and even more urgently than we did already.
Toward the end, the baby actually head-butts — or kicks, or knees, or otherwise jabs — the expectant mother’s bladder pretty much every time the little guy or gal is awake in there. You think you don’t have to pee — you just went, in fact! — and then… bam! Before you’ve even left the bathroom, before you’ve even gotten up from the porcelain throne sometimes, there’s that same old urge again.
Ya know, now that I think about it, I’m going to make a pledge here and now: if I’m ahead of a pregnant lady in line for the restroom, I’m not going to engage her in conversation, and I’m not going to ask her when she’s due. I’m just going to open the door for her and motion for her to please, by all means, go right ahead.
4 Like A Garbage Receptacle For Horror Stories
Oh, this one is the worst. From my own personal experience, some topics a mother-to-be may wish to think about and discuss on the reg may include the following: nursery décor, names, gifts you plan to give her, massages you would like to offer her, chocolate you would like to provide her, how beautiful and healthy her baby will inevitably be, and how magical and wonderful she is for creating and inevitably bearing a child into the world.
And now, from my own personal experience, some things expectant mothers most likely wish not to hear about: the terrible, gross, incredibly frightening thing or things that happened to you, your sister, your mother, your neighbor, or anyone you’ve ever met, talked to, or heard of during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or thereafter. It, like, really freaks us out. But that’s just my take.
Really, though, let’s consider: if you were coming up on, say, running a marathon, would you want to hear everyone’s scary stories about injury, mishap, and mayhem while training for and competing in marathons? Please, don’t kill my happy, confident vibe. Don’t bring me down!
3 Like A Giant Beach Ball
When the baby comes out, the body does not immediately shrink right back up to appear exactly as it did before, and that is A-OK. I guess maybe it’s just more of a cultural vibe, one that I dread even discussing here for fear that I perpetuate it in any way.
But I have been around and spoken to many women who seem to think one of the most important things, due to their expectations or the expectations of others, is to fit ASAP back into the jeans they wore before they got pregnant.
This is very silly indeed, for sooo many reasons, if you ask me. How about celebrating the different body a new mother has? How about glorifying the amazing form and function of a body that has just produced a human being? We don’t expect bodies to return right back to their previous strength or shape after going through other major changes in life — think training for a sport, recovering from an injury, and so on — so I don’t think it’s quite practical or productive for anyone, including the pregnant woman/new mom herself, to expect the body to go quickly back to how it was before pregnancy and birth.
2 Like Pregnant Is ALL We Are
Sometimes it’s fun to talk about how you’re feeling, the kicks you’re feeling, the foods you crave, and those you can’t stand. It’s nice to look forward eagerly to what life will be like with a baby of your very own around. It shows that people care when they ask you about these things.
Like any topic, though, sometimes, for some women, it might be nice to have a break. It can be easy to think of little else but being pregnant, from the day you know you are to the week or weeks you are waiting anxiously for baby to arrive. Accordingly, it can be oh so nice to talk about something else for a bit.
It’s the same, I think, when the baby comes. New moms will often say how relieved/excited/grateful they are just to talk to other adult humans after focusing on nothing but a newborn for days and days and days.
A change of topics, sometimes, can be very, very refreshing.
1 Like We’re Not A Queen
Shower me with gifts — bonus points if they are sparkly or made of dark chocolate. Rub my feet — at least once, but probably twice a day. Sing my praises, not only how lovely I look, but more generally how lovely I simply am.
It is such a treat, if not an absolute necessity, to make a woman feel beautiful, confident, and deserving of love and attention (and did I mention chocolate?) during this time of incredible transition, uncertainty, change, and — quite literally — growth.
The thing is, those foot rubs, gifts both silly and serious, kind words, and praises all add up to send an important message: “You are wonderful, and I am here to support you.” What a wonderful and wonderfully necessary message to receive as you approach and enter a new life called parenthood. And what a great habit to establish now so that the pregnant woman in your life can feel supported and loved not only while she’s pregnant but also all the time?