While I tried to keep my partners in the loop about what was happening with me, my health, and our baby's health during pregnancy — and most of the time I really did want them to be there with me for exams and ultrasounds — there are quite a few medical moments during pregnancy when a partner just needs to back off, leave the exam room, or at least respect the fact that you are the decision-making authority about what happens to your body, even when that body is carrying their child.
This means they should respect you enough to give you privacy when you ask for it. Pregnancy generally involves having some really frank discussions with your provider about your sexual history, your medical history, your mental health, previous trauma, and whether or not you feel safe at home, which might not be possible (or comfortable) to answer when your partner is present. Not to mention that I needed help with some really gross pregnancy symptoms, like peeing myself, excess discharge and hemorrhoids, which I definitely did't want to talk about in front of my partner. I honestly would rather have these conversations without an audience, even if that audience is made up entirely of people who have seen me naked.
It also means that while you might ask for your partner's input about things related to your pregnancy, like whether or not you want an epidural or want to have your tubes tied after delivery, they don't get to make decisions about what you do with your body. You don't stop being a person with rights to bodily autonomy and privacy when you become pregnant. Your partner, regardless of how involved they are or want to be, doesn't get a say unless you want to hear their input. So, with that in mind, here are just a few more medical moments when the pregnant person should always be in the driver's seat, with little to no back-seat driving from their partner.
When You're Considering Terminating Your Pregnancy
You may disagree, but in my opinion no one (but the pregnant person) should get to decide if a pregnant person stays pregnant or terminates their pregnancy.
I didn't tell my now ex-husband when I considered having an abortion. Our marriage was in shambles and I was so ashamed. In the end, I decided to stay with him and to stay pregnant, but I didn't have to involve him in that decision because it is my body and was totally my choice.
When You Need To Share Your Sexual History With Your Provider
I am pretty open about my sexual history, but that doesn't mean I don't want privacy when I need to share details with my providers. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable talking with their OB-GYN, or as comfortable as you can be when you're in a gown with a sheet over your naked lap.
When You Have Concerns About Your Mental Health
In our culture, it is so hard to ask for and get help with your mental health, and even harder to do so when you're pregnant. It feels like an admission of failure to not feel happy during pregnancy and, in my experience, your partner can totally take it personally (which is unfair, because depression and anxiety are no one's fault). Everyone deserves a chance to talk openly about their mental health concerns and without their partner making it about them.
When You Ask Them To Leave For An Exam Or Procedure
Just because you've seen me naked, doesn't mean I want you to see me get a pap smear or have my hemorrhoids checked out.
When You Decide You Don't Want A Painful Or Risky Procedure
When I was pregnant with my first baby, we discovered that my daughter was breech. My midwife gave me the option of having an external cephalic version procedure in order to try to turn her. She told us that the procedure might not work and that it could be painful and risky. My husband and I responded at the exact same time. However, and unfortunately, his response was, "yes," and mine was, "no." Needless to say, I didn't get it done, and in the end our daughter ended up turning on her own.
When You're Embarrassed About Your Weight Gain
As an eating disorder survivor, pregnancy weight gain is really hard for me to manage emotionally. While my providers were super supportive of my decision to not know the number on the scale, my first husband always had a comment about it. Yeah, that's not OK.
When You And Your Provider Are On The Same Page About Your Fitness Routine
I was fairly active during most of my last pregnancy. My provider and I were totally on the same page about me staying active until my body or my baby told me to slow down. My husband, on the other hand, thought I should take it easy. I don't think he'll ever forget the look on my face when he asked my OB-GYN if I should stop working out.
When Your Provider Asks You If You Are Planning To Breastfeed Your Baby
This was another time when I wished my husband had just let me respond instead of responding for me. I wanted to say, "I plan to try, but I had challenges last time," rather than what he said, which was "Of course we are." I had to find a way to discuss my real concerns about undersupply with my midwife later on when he was not in the room.
When You Want To Go To Labor And Delivery To Get Checked Out
My first husband was so concerned about bothering the labor and delivery staff at the hospital, that he actively discouraged me from calling or going in to get checked out. It was so infuriating. The nurses told me that they would rather see a person go in every day, than something bad happening to them or their baby because they didn't feel like they should.
When You're Talking To Your Provider About Birth Control Options For After Delivery
No, on-call OB-GYN, my husband doesn't get to decide if I get pregnant again or want to use birth control. You did not just ask him if he was OK with my decision about getting my tubes tied, right? Like, please tell me that didn't just happen. I can't even. How does one even respond to this?
When You Need To Make A Decision About Having An Induction
At the end of my first pregnancy, I was so uncomfortable and my blood pressure kept creeping up. My midwife asked me to strongly consider scheduling an induction for a few days after my due date. My husband totally disagreed because, among other things, he was planning to work that day. As it turned out, my water broke all over the hospital bathroom floor, so I would have gone into labor that day anyway. Regardless, what's safe and medically indicated for my pregnancy should have been more important than his damn work schedule.