Ah pregnancy. The mystical experience women endure to produce tiny humans. Films make it look like a flawless experience with glowing skin and gorgeous hair and mothers often describe it as “wonderful”.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love my kid and I would go through the whole damn thing again and push him out several times over but being pregnant was not my finest period. I was so frustrated with the food aversions and the lethargy that crept up and viciously bit me on the ass at various points throughout the day. I had a generally stress free pregnancy bar an ear infection at the end that made me feel like a spikey worm was drilling into my inner ear but it was just the rolling around and the nausea and the tiredness and the hormonal shifts that challenged me throughout.
Power to you if pregnancy was awesome. I’m pleased for you I really am. It’s an amazing thing growing a human and I totally appreciate it but it could be a touch more forgiving! There were so many things people said to me when I was pregnant that made me want to cut them (this was a genuine emotion especially when people bumped into me because they’re so caught up in their own little world they missed the whale cruising down the shopping aisle) so I decided to bunch some together so you know who to avoid when pregnant or you don’t get cut by a pregnant person.
1. You look huge! Are you sure there’s only one in there? You’re only X weeks!!
Be aware there are various shades of this comment and they can be snide or actually sound concerned which may make you question the malice but anyone who tells a pregnant woman that she is fat/large/big/whale like/carrying multiples is a dick.
2. You’re not going to sleep for 18 years (followed by manic desperate cackling)
We get it. Babies are hard work and don’t sleep alot. Do you really think telling a pregnant woman about the challenges she has no idea about that are yet to come in a sing song way is helpful? It’s not.
3. Have you read blah blah
Now I truly believed I was going to be one of those overly read mothers to be as that’s how I tackle most of my life but I only had one pregnancy book and it was the classic “What to expect when you’re expecting” pregnancy Bible and between that and my mate Google we got by. When people start telling you to read blah because it will change your life or read blah blah because it saved so and so’s first six months. No no, ramming literature down our throats doesn’t make us anymore prepared but if we want to read we’ll choose thanks.
4. Is this your first pregnancy?
I have been asked this several times and to be honest it didn’t particularly bother me but this was my first pregnancy. Pregnant women are hormonal at the best of times and to be asked this question when you’ve had multiple pregnancies and multiple losses could open Pandora’s box. Just be thoughtful, you don’t know what that woman has been through to now wear that bump.
5. The non-verbal belly touch
Are you insane? You would never just go up to a person and touch them in any other circumstance. It’s creepy and weird and you don’t get to lay your hands up on me. Technically you’re touching my child which is even more inappropriate!!! Hated this so much.
6. You look so tired
Such helpful people out there. I obviously wasn’t present last night when I couldn’t sleep and need you to tell me my state of exhaustion. Thank you kind samiritan (you can’t see me but my eyes literally rolled so hard they nearly didn’t come back).
7. Laughing at my plans
Whilst I took a break from work I did intend to keep on top of emails etc and I did plan to keep going until my son was born. Judgement on this drove me mad. We plan to take little man home to South Africa for his first trip when he was just 3 months old and the response was so unsupportive. Once he was here we decided to wait until he was 5 months old but still poking fun at my plans when pregnant – big no.
8. Any personal questions
Is it a boy or a girl?
Where are you giving birth?
Will you breastfeed?
Coming from complete strangers these are super personal, I mean do you want to weigh me and measure my baby as well?
I had a hairdresser tell me that how I was planning to feed my baby wasn’t going to work and I had a waitress tell me her entire birth story and advise how I should give birth. I get that mothers know stuff but let’s not forget that we are complete strangers and you are trying to discuss quite intimate information!
9. This is going to be the most amazing experience of your life
I understand that having a baby is a very special moment in your life. I know that when I gave birth to my son it was up there but when you’re pregnant and you don’t know how it’s going to play out, this sets an expectation for the birth that may not be realised. You could have a really traumatic birth or your baby may need immediately care or you may be out cold and miss most of it.
While this may be said with the best intentions, it sets a precedent and the last thing a new mother needs is to feel she was cheated out of her amazing experience.
10. As soon as your baby is born you will experience overwhelming love
You will love your baby but it may not be immediate and it may not be overwhelming but gradual. This is ok.
Telling someone who is expecting that when they hold their baby they will have this flood of love sets them up to potentially be disappointed when they are at a very vulnerable and hormonally challenging place.
As soon as I held my son I felt relief and I knew I would love him but I did not get a rush of overwhelming love. Our love has been gradual as our bond gets stronger.
Everyone’s journey is different and it’s not about being politically correct, it’s about being supportive of how unique each pregnancy and birth is.
Growing a human is a huge feat whether we carry big or small, whether we have had several or one pregnancy, whether we had a c-section or natural birth, whether we loved pregnancy or didn’t – each pregnancy needs to be supported in a way that that future mama finds helpful and if you don’t know how to best support – ASK!
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