A pregnant woman does not need your pity. All she needs is a little understanding: let her sit down, open a door for her, help her carry heavy things, – the normal level of courtesy is all that is needed. Do not treat her as if she is sick or disabled, unless she actually is. Below are a few questions and comments that people made during my pregnancy that do not make a lot of sense to the logical being in me. They tend to illustrate a lack of understanding, looking at pregnancy from the point of view of a society trying to carry on in the usual rhythm while a woman stops to have a baby.
Don’t you feel self-conscious walking around with a big belly?
Do I realize I have a big belly? Indeed. I happen to exist in this body and notice its changes. Being self-conscious in the “I care about what others will think of me” way implies that others (presumably the society as a whole) consider it inappropriate for a pregnant woman to have a big belly. As one of my friends put it, “what do they think you are supposed to look like while growing a new life inside of you – a ballerina, perhaps?” So, my answer to this one is – I’m having a baby. If something does not add up for you, check your biology textbook on the changes that occur in females of the species during gestation.
A bigger issue raised by this question is that the North American society considers the pregnant body not aesthetically pleasing. The view seems to be that pregnancy and all the changes it brings are something to endure and live through, not embrace. Add to that the ultra-thin body image constantly promoted by the media, and you end up with women that feel embarrassed for “having a big belly” in pregnancy (not to mention other parts that tend to become larger in order to support the fetal development). Somehow no one seems to ask whether you are feeling self-conscious about walking around with larger breasts which happens to be a normal part of pregnancy as well.
One of the pregnancy-related sites had a cartoon with a caption to the effect of “Things you absolutely don’t do when pregnant…” showing two friends at a jean store, the non-pregnant one asking “Do I look fat in these?” and the caption concluded: “… go shopping with a skinny friend”. First of all, and I might be a black sheep on this one, I hate shopping. So unless I needed something specific, why would I waste my time scouting clothing stores? But even that aside, when you are pregnant you don’t have to worry about your waist not being the size you’d like it to be or not “fitting into your skinny jeans” which for some reason is cited as a common concern. Relax and enjoy the freedom of wearing things that are less restrictive, instead of trying to conform to some stereotype that is not even applicable to your current state. That cartoon and quite a few books and articles I’ve come across make it seem like Western women got their priorities screwed up to the extent that a piece of cloth they are wearing carries more value and meaning than anything else in their lives.
I won’t speak here about other women – but for me the pregnancy has been a most interesting and rewarding experience in itself. It made me ask new questions, listen to my body in different ways, discover the hidden endurance reserves I did not know I possessed. I have felt incredibly sexy, happy, and fulfilled. The new life stirring in my body (and sometimes kicking me in the ribs) brings with it a strong sense of power, of ability to do anything, of having a universe growing inside me, and me being part of that universe at the same time.
I am not saying my experience was free from discomfort, pain, or worry. But my overall psychological state of joy has been overwhelming. Perhaps I am lucky in how the hormones and circumstances have combined to give me this incredible trip. So when I hear someone bringing up issues of body image I laugh, so insignificant and far those concerns seem to me.
Once the baby is born, nothing will be about you anymore – everyone will only care about the baby.
Well, this one shows how that particular person will act around you once the baby is born. “Everyone” tends to consist of separate people. I have only heard this from two people throughout my entire pregnancy. Presumably in their life once the baby is born the woman takes a second place. To me it sounds like complete nonsense. Naturally the grandparents and the rest of the family will give lots of attention to the baby (and so will the mother), but that does not mean your partner or your friends will suddenly stop being interested in you. Otherwise, was there any friendship at all? It’s like expecting that when someone gets a pet, suddenly everyone’s attention will be on the pet and no one will care about the owner anymore. Sounds ridiculous to me.
Are you huge yet? Do you still fit into the driver’s seat?
Usually this question is asked if the person is not in visual contact with you, such as relatives living far away.
Hm, define “huge”. I haven’t weighed myself since the beginning of pregnancy, so weight won’t tell me much. Volume-wise, I definitely have a bigger belly, but after watching multiple videos and hearing women who have been pregnant comment how small I am for my term, I’m not sure that “huge” would apply. The wonderfully positive connotation of the word “huge” doesn’t make the question very pleasant either.
The driver’s seat part puzzles me. I cannot foresee me getting so large that I would not be able to fit into a car seat. Granted I drive a Jeep, but unless we are talking about Zaporozhets here or perhaps a Smart Car, into which I’m not sure I’d comfortably fit in any case, I really cannot imagine this possibility. It brings to mind a cartoon from childhood with a giraffe sitting in a tiny car, with its knees being on the same level as its head.
Was this a planned pregnancy?
None of your business. If the answer is “no”, a conclusion somehow immediately follows that the couple “screwed up”, didn’t think things through, and is irresponsibly bringing the child into this world, without being able to adequately care for it. If the answer is “yes”, the judgment often is that parents-to-be “plan everything”, “cannot be spontaneous”, and have a sex life running on a schedule. Don’t you love it when people make conclusions based on an answer to a single question?
Whether the pregnancy was planned or not, it is clearly progressing towards the baby being born. The mother presumably “made peace” with it if it was not planned and is putting all her energy into growing this baby. So, get off your high horse and accept this as a happy occasion.