Courtesy of Steph Montgomery
10 Times Society Expects You To Apologize For Being Pregnant

by Steph Montgomery

It seems like pregnant people seriously can't win. In fact, it seems like there are times society expects you to apologize for being pregnant, and that expectation seemingly hits you from all directions and in every facet of your life. Working moms have to be consistently awesome at our jobs, despite whatever challenges pregnancy might throw at us. Rather than offering sympathy, some people treat complicated and high-risk pregnancies as proof women are liabilities in a workplace, or that pregnant people should just stay home and not try to "have it all." I personally have faced a ton of subtle discrimination in the workplace about my pregnancies. It made me feel like I had to apologize for starting and growing my family, and that is so messed up.

On the other hand, if a pregnant person chooses to stay home or gets put on bed rest or has to be hospitalized for pregnancy complications, they are treated like they're lazy or wasting their potential (as if growing and raising humans isn't amazingly hard work), or they're treated like they're not doing pregnancy "right." Then, if I chose to work out, people got so uncomfortable at the sight of my pregnant body that it made me want to jokingly pretend to go into labor just to mess with them.

I wish people would stop trying to tell pregnant people what they can and can't do with their bodies, as if they lose the right to bodily autonomy when they conceive. Same goes with commenting about what a pregnant person eats or drinks. (I say this for your safety, because you definitely don't want to get between a pregnant person and a needed cup of coffee or piece of cheesecake.) I wish we could all just leave pregnant people alone to gestate in peace. Pregnancy is hard enough without feeling like you need to apologize.

When You Already Have Kids

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

I still vividly remember the times (yes, plural) when people have commented about the wisdom of getting pregnant when I already had two kids and two stepkids. It was as if my reproductive choices were their business, when they totally were not. Also, no, I am not personally responsible for population growth and environmental degradation. You should be thanking me for creating awesome, smart children, rather than asking for an apology.

When You Experience Complications

Contrary to popular belief, most pregnancy complications are not the result of the pregnant person doing something "wrong" or failing to do something "right." Also, growing humans is hard on bodies. We don't ask other people to feel ashamed or responsible if they fall and break a leg or catch a cold, so why do we, as a society, hold pregnant people responsible for getting sick? That's pretty freaking ableist.

When You Hate Being Pregnant

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

Pregnancy sucks. I had hyperemesis gravidarum, which meant I threw up for months, my body hurt in different ways the whole nine months, and I felt like I had to apologize for not feeling good and not loving every moment.

When You're A Working Parent

When you dare to get pregnant and have a job, people expect an apology, which is undeniably sexist. After all, no one ever assumes that a man will suck at his job after having kids, or that a man will undoubtably fail at "trying to have it all."

I personally have been asked at interviews if I plan to get pregnant (which is totally unethical and illegal), as if I need permission from my employer to procreate or it will make me a bad candidate for a potential job position. Also, I have had my commitment to my job, desire to advance in my career, and future ability to show up and perform at work questioned as soon as I announced my pregnancy, every single time.

When You Gain A Lot Of Weight

Don't even get me started on the expectations society places on pregnant people and their bodies. You should gain some weight, but not too much, and certainly not anywhere but your belly and your boobs. Pregnant people really can't win.

When You Are "Too Young" Or "Too Old"

Unless you're in this perceived "sweet spot" of an age, and that "sweet spot" varies depending on where you life, you're either too young or too old to get pregnant. If you're too young, you're automatically labeled irresponsible and everyone assumes you're throwing away your future (as if having children marks the end of your life). If you're too old, like, in your 30s,you're labeled old AF, like me, and likely to die soon and leave your children motherless.

I jest, but seriously, it's my body, and I'll get pregnant if I want to. No apologies.

When You Work Out

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

When you're pregnant you're supposed to stay healthy and trim, but the sight of your pregnant body at the gym or on the running trail seems to make people really uncomfortable. I worked at gyms until late in my third trimester as a group fitness instructor. Every damn time someone, usually a man, would tell me what I should and should not be doing in my "delicate state." Oh please. By the end of my classes, the same dudes often looked like they were going to die, while I was barely breaking a sweat.

When You're Huge

Apparently, the sight of my giant pregnant belly makes some people uneasy and even angry. Honestly, I refuse to apologize when I don't fit in certain places, need a bit more space, or for being pregnant. Deal with it.

When You Have To Go On Bed Rest

I had to go on bed rest, to varying degrees, during all three of my pregnancies. Not only did people seriously judge me, as if I had any say in the manner, but I felt like I had to apologize for taking care of my body and doing what I needed to do to have a healthy baby. That's so not OK.

When You Schedule Your Birth

We have romanticized childbirth so much in our culture, that there's definitely a "right way" to do it, in most people's minds. If you need to (or want to) schedule an induction or c-section to have your baby, you are totally "doing it wrong." I mean, why get pregnant if you aren't going to do it right? Ugh. There's no "right" way to give birth, people, and society seriously needs to back up and lay off pregnant people who are making their own (safe) decisions about how they're going to get a baby out of their body.

For me, part of being pro-choice is supporting people in choosing if and when to get pregnant or stay pregnant, no matter what, and that means they should never have to be asked to apologize.