Our society, unfortunately, is known for feeling entitled to women's bodies. That seems abundantly clear on any given day, but especially when a woman is pregnant. Have you ever stopped to think of all the creepy things people feel perfectly
fine saying to pregnant women in their third trimester? Or really any time after you "pop," for that matter? I mean, it's enough to make you rage eat whatever pregnancy craving you're currently infatuated with.
In my third trimesters, of which I've had three, I was swollen, miserable, and emotionally fragile. I could barely
handle my own roller coaster of emotions, so when someone said something insensitive I felt I had little resources with which to defend myself or make a retort. Not to mention the fact that, if you're anything like me, you're all too aware of the pregnant-woman-as-crazy trope that's overplayed ad nauseam, so you're really trying hard not to seem like a, well, crazy pregnant woman.
With the benefit of hindsight and no longer
being a third trimester pregnant person, I can safely say that some of the stuff I heard at the end of all three of my full-term pregnancies was creepy AF. The most shocking thing, though? People feel totally fine saying these things! Here are just a few to keep out of your own mouths if you care at all about pregnant people: "That's Going To Hurt!"
Why are you remarking on the pain I am going to experience? Does this make you happy? Are you concerned for my wellbeing? Do you think I am unaware the pain associated with childbirth? What is the point of this statement besides sticking your nose in my personal business? People, we have no way of knowing what a person's relationship might be to their impending pain experience. Perinatal anxiety and
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are real things. Unless you're their therapist and prepared to help them work through any triggers that come up, maybe just back off.
When I was pregnant with my first child I was terrified of childbirth. I did everything I could not to think of it. One of the many reasons for that fear was the fact that
I am a survivor of incest and I had no idea whether I would be severely triggered in the midst of labor and delivery. Sure, I was preparing for this on my own with close friends, my partner, therapist, and other supports, but every time someone talked about the pain I was thrown into paralysis. With all the other pregnancy worries and hormones, this was an unneeded stress of creepy proportions. "You're As Big As A House!"
Talking about people's bodies is rude. Commenting on their size? Worse. It's creepy and mean. Stop it.
"Are You Going To Breastfeed?"
My boobs, whether they lactate or not and what I plan to do with them, is none of your business.
"Is It A Boy Or A Girl?"
Now, at first you might say, "Um,
this isn't a weird or creepy question. It's totally normal." Well, I can see how you would think that, dear reader, what with the way we've been socialized to ask this question. But think about what you're really asking when you ask someone this question. Basically, you're asking: "Hey, your belly is big. What do the genitals of the fetus inside of it look like?"
Ludicrous, right? Not to mention
creepy. "Are You Going To Circumcise?" "Are You Sure You're Not Overdue?"
This is just a tricky way to comment on a pregnant person's body size.
Creepy. "Whoa! Are You Having Twins?"
Why is everyone
so obsessed with pregnant people's body sizes? When you're a pregnant person in the third trimester, chances are you already feel awful and huge. I mean, I know I did. Any attempt a person makes at lighthearted banter just makes me feel like hell.
For example, four days before I gave unexpected,
early birth to my third child, I was caucusing for the State Democratic Convention. In a stadium full of strangers I was limping my way to the bathroom for the hundredth time in a couple hours, 6 year old in tow. A woman who had been eyeing me each time I passed her seat suddenly said, in the loudest voice imaginable, "Holy cow! You must be carrying twins! I've never seen a belly like that! How far along are you?" The whole stadium stopped and stared (or so it seemed). So creepy. "You're Carrying Low/High, So It's Definitely A Girl/Boy" Please don't analyze the shape of my belly bump and where it's located on my body. It definitely doesn't mean anything about the genitals of my fetus. Since we've already covered that gender is not sex, let's just leave that out of it altogether.
The biggest problem I have with comments like these is that
I'm the one who is looked at like I'm crazy or overly-sensitive if I respond authentically. Really? A stranger is closely scrutinized the size of my belly, commenting on it as though it's fact, and I'm the one who is out of line? "Are You Going To Get An Epidural?" "Are You Going To Do It Naturally?"
First of all, all birth is natural. Second of all, see above. Don't ask personal medical questions unless you have a reason to do so. Appropriate reasons are as follows: you're their medical professional. Full stop.
"Did Your Mom Have You Vaginally?"
In no other circumstance would anybody ever think it's OK to ask me about my mother's vagina and what she's done with it. Creepy.
"Can You Feel Your Pelvis And Hips Spreading?"
Shudder. Yes. Someone actually asked me this.
"You Are Walking Like The Baby Has Dropped"
Again, please think before you speak. I don't want a random person I don't know to comment on whether they think my butt, hips, legs, and pelvis look like a fetus head is sitting in my crotch.
"Wow, You're Swollen"
Unless you're my health care provider and
you're about to assess for preeclampsia, edema, or some other swelling related pregnancy complication, this is just creepy. Please trust that I'm already very, very aware of how swollen I am at any given moment during my third trimester. "I Bet You're Peeing All The Time, Right?"
Ugh. Do we ever, in polite society, ask about someone's pee habits? Nope.
Commenting on anyone's body, especially intrusively, is just creepy. The fact that a person is growing a fetus inside of their uterus doesn't change this general social rule. Plus, if you're anything like me, being pregnant made you feel very fragile and unpredictable. One creepy comment could trigger a day of anxiety and and a night of insomnia.