The first time it happened I was standing in line at Starbucks. I told the barista my order and the person behind me said, "Better make that decaf." I turned around expecting to see a friend making a joke (because I never order decaf), but discovered a stranger instead. I had received my first ticket from the pregnancy police. Since then, I have received comments, unsolicited advice, and questions from friends and strangers alike. I'm honestly no longer shocked at the things the pregnancy police actually said to me when I was pregnant.
Over the years these pregnancy citations have come in all forms, from concern trolling — seemingly well-intentioned advice about my or my baby's health or wellbeing that is really subtly shaming me for what I am or am not doing — to asking "innocent" questions about my body, my pregnancy, and my parenting plans. It seems like there's something about pregnancy that makes even the most reasonable people think they have the right to deputize themselves as officers of the pregnancy police and tell pregnant people what to do.
It's so not cool, because no matter how helpful you think you are, my body belongs to me and my plans for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting are none of your freaking business. From now on, I think it's time that pregnant people start resisting arrest and for the pregnancy police to discover their right to remain silent.
Many of the comments I received from the pregnancy police over the years have had to do with food. Now, I understand that there are foods that could be dangerous for me to consume during pregnancy. However, those conversations are for me and my doctor, not for me and the store clerk, server, or some random person on the street.
A piece of "friendly" advice: don't get between a pregnant woman and the food she wants to eat, because that could be harmful to your health.
It's funny that people both told me to diet and to eat more during pregnancy, proving once again that pregnant women can't do anything right. I had hyperemesis gravidarum my last two pregnancies, which basically meant that I was vomiting 10 times a day and had to take medications to avoid dehydration, weight loss, and well, dying, while pregnant. So, comments about what or how much I ate got so old, so fast.
During each of my pregnancies I eventually reached a point where I ate whatever I could keep down, which typically meant salt and vinegar potato chips, Handi-snacks, and Sour Patch Kids. This meant lots of judgmental looks and comments from the pregnancy police about how eating "clean" is better for baby. What does that even mean, anyway? Eating clean? It seems like just another way to shame moms, which really sucks.
Unless you're my doctor, it's not your job to talk to me about safety. I don't care if I am running a race, teaching a cycling class, lifting weights, or balancing one leg in yoga class (all of which I have done while pregnant). I don't care if it makes you uncomfortable. I am not a delicate flower, and you have zero authority as the pregnancy police.
It sometimes feels like society thinks they need to protect pregnant people from themselves, but if I want to have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine while pregnant I can choose to do so. It's my body, and this is not The Handmaid's Tale. Well, not yet anyway. I get to decide.
Please don't question or attempt to dictate my birth choices, especially when they involve my vagina. It's none of your freaking business, my doctor and I will make that call when the time comes, and besides, that's my vagina we are talking about. Boundaries.
It seems like everyone had advice for me about my pregnancy, birth plans, and baby. I got completely overwhelmed, because it turns out that different members of the pregnancy police force have different ideas about the "right" way to be pregnant, give birth, and parent. It's literally impossible to follow all of the unsolicited advice thrown your way when you're growing another human being inside your body.
It sometimes feels like the pregnancy police will say anything to guilt or shame pregnant people about their choices. It's never OK to question someone's love for their child in order to pressure them into seeing or doing things your way. Especially when it's about something as subjective or benign as whether a pregnant person should have a latte.
Somehow, we have to reach a balance between people receiving the information they need to make healthy choices during their pregnancies, and having the ability to make those choices free from the gaze and unwanted comments of the pregnancy police. Like seriously, just stop trying to make policing other people's bodies a thing.