I’m all for co-parenting, but I am not down for use of the person plural when couple’s announce they’re expecting. “We” are not pregnant, unless both partners are actually, physically gestating a fetus for nine months. So, like my aversion to guys saying that “we” are pregnant (when they’re really talking about their partner, who is physically with child), I think there are things about pregnancy men don’t get a say in. I have no issue with guys saying “We are expecting,” or even, “We are going to have a baby.” All true. However, unless you have the reproductive equipment to make it possible, a self-identifying man, in my opinion, shouldn’t wander in that territory and lay claim to something he isn't personally, physically experiencing.
To be fair, I completely understand why men, sometimes, chime in on pregnancy topics. I mean, it’s kind of a big deal. I remember being in awe of the whole process of conceiving, proudly proclaiming, "It actually worked!" I spent decades trying not to get pregnant so when I, and my partner, were ready, it was kind of incredible that, well, there it was. A soon-to-be baby.
I don’t think I’m taking anything away from the experience of being an expectant father when I suggest that there are certain things men should hold off commenting about. There is so much that their female partner (or surrogate) is physically going through that it is impossible to replicate. Asking men to curb some remarks, or ways of thinking about pregnancy or decisions that need to be made before, during and after a pregnancy, is really just asking them to respect the agency women have over that experience. No doubt, expecting dads are dealing with some serious emotions, anticipating the birth of their babies and not being able to completely participate, 100 percent in the process and, eventually seeing their partner in pain. However, they're not nearly as affected as the woman who is giving up a lot to grow and sustain and birth a healthy baby. That part is all on her.
So, in addition to ditching the “we’re pregnant” vocabulary, here are some things about pregnancy that I don’t think men should get a say in. Sorry fellas, but it's just good ole common sense.
How Active Their Pregnant Partner Is
I took my last spin class on my due date with my daughter (though she was late and didn’t arrive until 10 days later). I felt great and there was nothing my doctor saw wrong with me continuing to work out. I think the exercising helped me achieve relatively easy delivery, so don’t fight me when I waddle to the gym. (In all honesty, I did stop taking step aerobics by my sixth month. At that point, my balance just wasn’t making things safe.)
How Inactive Their Pregnant Partner Is
While it’s great to keep moving (if you can) during pregnancy, you’re not always up for it. With constant nausea, total exhaustion, and sore boobs, I didn’t want to move much at all during my first trimester. So, if you’re a guy and feel compelled to share some pearls of wisdom about the benefits of not being a pregnant couch potato, take a hike.
How Much Their Pregnant Partner Is Eating
I guess it’s out of love and support, but the encouragement to eat more should stop. I’m not even technically "eating for two," because my stomach doesn’t increase in size during pregnancy. I’ll eat as much as I need to, thanks. My weight is not your concern.
What Their Pregnant Partner Is Eating...
Some foods may be off-limits, but if you are truly concerned about what I’m ingesting, it better be because you’re willing to cook for me or take me out for a fantastic meal. If you think what I’m eating is weird, it’s only because I’m seriously craving it, which means my body, and the baby’s body, must want it. Or it’s chocolate, in which case, duh.
Withhold the reprimands for having a soft drink or an occasional beer (not something I did, but I make no judgements concerning the healthy pregnant women who sipped judiciously with their doctor’s blessing). Obviously, you should be concerned if your pregnant partner is drinking alcohol on a regular, consistent and unhealthy basis. But a glass of wine or diet soda, now and then and with her OB’s permission, does not give you the right to say something about it.
Anything Concerning Her Maternity Clothes
I know you prefer the red muumuu to the black one, but I just feel more like myself as a pregnant goth. Also, get used to these flip-flops because there is nothing else my feet will be fitting into for the next three months.
Whether Or Not Their Pregnant Partner Sits Down
I wasn’t always offered a seat on the subway when I was pregnant, but I usually took one if I was. Occasionally, though, I didn’t feel like sitting or I was getting off at the next stop anyway, so I would politely refuse the offer. Sometimes the guy offering it sometimes got mad, and fairly insistent, that I take it. Like he knew some secret about a pregnant woman sitting down that I didn’t. Just nod and smile back and go back to manspreading, sir.
How Their Pregnant Partner Looks
I know people were being nice but being told, by anyone, really, that I’m “glowing” is not something I want to hear. It makes me wonder how ugly I was when I was not (visibly) pregnant. Telling me I look happy is nice. Telling me that pregnancy makes me beautiful is creepy.
Anything About Breastfeeding
Like, anything. At all. If you do not have breasts, or if the ones you have have never been in service of nourishment of a small child, don’t talk to me about this.
The Birth Plan
Sorry guys, but this is not about you. We know you think you’re going to be an active participant in the act of bringing our child into the world, but there is little influence you’re going to have on how that all turns out. Take our lead on this. If we want the home water birth, that’s what we get. If we want the drugs, we get the drugs. Whatever we choose, since this is all happening to our bodies, is what you’ll be getting on board with.
It’s up to us if we choose to nurse during the nighttime feedings, or if we want you to take that on, with either pumped milk or formula. Again, we’re the ones with the bodies making the milk (or not), so we call the shots on whose sleep will be getting interrupted. Fact: neither of us will get much shuteye anyway, so just agree to whatever plan we have about this.