In my experience, there's something about seeing a pregnant person or hearing that someone is expecting that makes even the most sensible people lose their filters and say
exactly what's on their minds. As a result, there are so many things people say to pregnant moms that are actually super-problematic. Even when people have the best of intentions, certain comments and questions can leave a soon-to-be mom feeling violated and uncomfortable.
I don't think people are being
intentionally rude or horrible to pregnant people when they make these comments, though. I just think people don't stop and think about how their words might be received or might negatively impact someone who is literally growing a child inside their body. I — and most of the previously pregnant people I know — have heard some completely uncool, inappropriate, and even low-key creepy things while pregnant. And while we can all be understanding, we shouldn't have to deal with this nonsense when our limbs are swollen, our gag reflex is unforgiving, and our bladder is the size of a pea.
So the next time you consider
making a comment about someone's pregnancy, body, or parenting choices, take the time to stop and ask yourself if there's a chance what you're about to say will be taken the wrong way. Because chances are that comment is low-key problematic, like the following:
Considering that over 50 percent of
pregnancies are unplanned or unintended, I really think we ought to start asking pregnant moms how they feel about their pregnancies before assuming they want to be congratulated. Someone congratulating you about a positive pregnancy test can make you feel like crap, for example, when you're ambivalent about your pregnancy or considering termination.
"Are You Planning To Birth 'Naturally'?"
In our culture, we've seemed to
romanticize birth to the extent that there's a so-called "right way" to birth a baby, which almost always means vaginal delivery with no pain medications. But in reality, most women and other pregnant people don't actually birth their babies that way. So I think it's time we stop implying that there's one "legitimate" way birth that is somehow superior to the rest.
"You're Look Like You're About To Pop"
Commenting about a pregnant person's body is
not OK. Full stop. I am actually so tired of the assumption that because someone is pregnant it's permissible to make comments about the size or shape of their body, or make judgments about when they are likely to give birth or how many babies they're going to have. It's gross.
I am so tired of pregnant people being diminished to the size of their baby bump. Not only is it not OK to
comment about someone's body, but saying a woman is "all belly" implies that how others gain weight during pregnancy is somehow wrong.
It's so gross to ask about the father of a pregnant person's future baby. What if their baby does not have a father? What if their bio-dad is a horrible human being? Hell,even if the pregnant person in question does have a loving partner, they probably don't enjoy jokes that imply that they cheated on their partner with the "mail man" or whoever. This comment is so problematic in all sorts of ways.
"Are You Gonna Drink That?"
I'm so tired of the concern-trolling that happens when you are pregnant. I don't care if I am drinking coffee, soda, or nice glass of wine, my body belongs to me and what I put in it isn't up for discussion. I am the only person who gets to decide what I consume while pregnant. Full stop.
"Are You Planning To Breastfeed?"
People seem to think it's perfectly OK to asking pregnant people about their plans for breastfeeding. Nearly everyone does this, too, like it's no big deal. But in a world where so many
people can't breastfeed, can't make enough breast milk, or choose not to breastfeed for a ton of valid reasons, it has the potential to really hurt a soon-to-be mom. Let her tell you what she plans on doing, or leave it be.
I actually am of the mindset that
gender is a social construct, and an often problematic one when it comes to babies and little kids. Your baby's sex might be visible during an anatomy ultrasound, but since gender is something that comes later I think we ought to focus on how a mom feels versus something as irrelevant as her baby's assigned gender or anatomy.
"Wow, You've Gained A Lot Of Weight"
I gained way more weight during my first pregnancy than I planned, so whenever someone told me I looked huge or asked me how much I gained it made me feel like utter crap. We should start telling pregnant people how amazing they look, instead of asking how much weight they've gained.
"My Friend Lost Her Baby"
The last thing you want to tell a pregnant person is how someone you know lost their baby. It happens, of course, and it is incredibly sad. But, it's so not something you should bring up with someone who's expecting. It's just rude.
People seem to forget that when they ask about
my baby's conception they are literally asking when I had sex with my husband. For me, that's personal. Please don't ask about my sex life. Pregnancy insomnia is real. I used to joke that it's excellent training for motherhood, because it definitely gets you used to a state of general sleep deprivation. Now that I've been pregnant three times, however, I'm no longer laughing. It's terrible, and pregnant people do not need a reminder that they are tired. They know. Courtesy of Steph Montgomery
Like me, I think most pregnant people have at least some fears and anxiety going into childbirth. Honestly, though, the last thing they want to do is have to explain those fears to other people. So, yeah, you really shouldn't ask them to. Instead, try asking them if they have any questions, or what excites them the most about their baby to be.