Pregnancy is a miraculous, incredible experience. It can also royally suck. Just because pregnancy is mind-numbingly amazing, doesn't mean it isn't also annoying, frustrating, and all-around miserable. It's normal for many women to hate pregnancy, yet it seems like the majority of pregnant women rarely talk about their negative feelings when it comes to 40+ weeks of gestation.
Why? Well, probably because — along with almost every other choice or feeling women make in their lives — women are shamed for not feeling what society expects them to. Because pregnancy is considered a natural, inevitable part of a woman's existence (thanks, patriarchy) women are expected to not only enter into it, they're expected to love it. Our culture has successfully associated certain life choices, and the feelings one has about them, to a specific gender: A woman is somewhat considered a bad woman if she A) never has a baby to begin with, or B) isn't downright in love with the baby-growing-and-delivering process.
So, in an effort to avoid shame and judgement, women who don't enjoy pregnancy don't talk about their experiences. And honestly, who can blame them? Motherhood is riddled with enough shame and judgement as it is, so why make the process all the more difficult? Especially when there are these eight ways women are subtly shamed for hating their pregnancy.
"At Least You Can Get Pregnant"
A miserable pregnant woman isn't ungrateful for the opportunity to procreate, she's just miserable. So, reminding her that she can, in fact, get pregnant while others cannot is not only unnecessary (because trust me, she knows) it's just mean. She'll continue to feel miserable, only now her misery will come with a side of guilt. That's not helpful, you guys.
"I Loved Being Pregnant"
Every woman's experience with pregnancy is different, unique, and valid. However, if you are listening to someone explain that they aren't enjoying their pregnancy, for any reasons, and you're only response is, "Well, I loved being pregnant," then chances are you're just driving a wedge between the two of you. You may not realize it, but that response could inadvertently be creating a "you vs. me" scenario and, well, you'll experience enough of that throughout motherhood.
"It's Really Not THAT Bad"
Again, every woman experiences pregnancy differently. For some, pregnancy isn't really "that bad." Some women don't suffer from a nasty case of morning sickness, they're not forced to deal with a myriad of pregnancy complications, and they feel in touch with their ever-changing body. But for others, pregnancy is extremely different, so telling someone it really isn't "that bad" is not only condescending, it isn't true. No one can possibly know what a pregnant woman is feeling except for that pregnant woman.
"But Pregnancy Is Natural"
Yes, naturally horrible. Just because something is natural, doesn't mean that it isn't also uncomfortable, terrifying, annoying, or any other unpleasant word you could possibly think of. For example, coal tar is a "natural" ingredient, and it's just disgusting. Case closed.
"Pregnancy Is A Journey. Enjoy It."
Not all journeys are enjoyable, friend. Saying cliché sh*t like, "It's not about the destination, it's about the journey" isn't going to change the fact that the journey is riddled with nausea, constipation, hormones, possible complications, anxiety, and expensive planning. While it is marvelous that some people can enjoy the 40+ week journey that is pregnancy, others don't, and that's perfectly normal and OK.
"Don't Worry, You'll Get Your Body Back"
First and foremost, don't assume that a woman isn't enjoying pregnancy simply because she's gaining weight. Secondly, even if the weight gain is a source of a pregnant woman's discomfort, telling her not to "worry" and that she'll "get her body back" is less about being helpful, and more about subtly implying that she's vain and reminding her of her "obligation" to work her ass off to force her body to hastily look like it never was pregnant at all. All of that...sucks. A lot.
Not only is it normal to dislike pregnancy, it's normal for one of the reasons why to be a disconnect with your body. As a woman's body changes, she can find herself feeling essentially awkward in her own skin and uncomfortable in a form that she no longer recognizes. It's not about fitting into a particular pair of jeans (although, if it is, that's just fine too) it's about feeling comfortable being you.
"You Just Need To Be More Positive"
Sure, a positive mindset is beneficial. Positive thinking reduces stress, increases your life span, and can lower rates of depression. However, airing your grievances is beneficial too: Complaining is good for your health, believe it or not, so telling someone to force themselves to stuff the bad stuff deep down and only voice the positive thoughts could be (and usually is) more hurtful than helpful.
"Just Think About The Life Growing Inside You"
It's worth noting (over and over and over again, if necessary) that a woman who dislikes pregnancy, does not dislike her unborn baby. And while it may help to keep your eye on the prize and focus on the end game, it's also beneficial to focus on yourself as well. There will be plenty of times when people will tell you that, as a mother, you need to put yourself last. That's pretty terrible advice regardless, but don't let anyone also tell you that while you're pregnant. You're entitled to self-care, and if that means complaining about how shi**y pregnancy is, complain away.