That’s right, my urge to procreate finally overtook my climate dread, and I’m now pregnant. I’ve been around enough pregnant people over the years to have witnessed how social filters and courtesies just slide away when people engage with someone’s pregnancy.
But I’ve still been genuinely bemused by the sudden freedom people find in how they talk about my body now I’m carrying a baby. It’s like any sense of privacy or bodily autonomy I once had has been completely eradicated and the advice and comments are coming at an alarmingly high rate.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the advice is appreciated. It’s been wonderful to have friends and family members who have had babies share their insights with me from their own pregnancies and offer support when needed. I love that I have a strong community of parents around me who have been available for my panicked texts or questions when I’m not sure if things are right or which feelings are good ones while my body rapidly changes.
But there have been some conversations that have completely baffled me.
For a start, there seems to be a cohort of women who take glee in the fact that pregnancy means I’ll put on weight. I thought that was a given, considering I’ll be carrying around another person inside my body, but the comments are so strange.
“You’re going to be one of those pregnant people who just looks fat,” one friend told me the other day. This didn’t seem like a necessary or helpful insight, but I suppose she felt it was worth commenting.
“Just let go of any ideas you had about exercise and fitness,” another friend advised me.
“You won’t get that back, not for years. It just is what it is.”
I mean, that may have been her experience, but it certainly isn’t shared among all the people I know with small children, so the scaremongering felt heavy-handed.
Also, surely having goals for regaining my fitness and doing all the physical activities I enjoy is a positive way to manage the stress of having to shift a lot of my activities while pregnant. Even if reality means I won’t be able to achieve those goals, that’s something for me to manage if and when the time comes.
I also just get a lot of people staring at my stomach, demanding to touch my belly, and even forcibly pulling my loose clothes around to get a better look. That feels incredibly weird, and I haven’t worked out a polite way of saying, “Please get your hands off me” without offending someone.
And then, of course, there are all the people telling me what I shouldn’t be doing anymore. Whether it’s what I eat, how I sleep, or activities they think aren’t safe, I’m getting plenty of advice, often from people I haven’t otherwise spoken to in months or even years. I haven’t even put up any kind of social media announcement to say I’m pregnant but mentioned it in passing in a comment and was inundated with contact. That’s quite nice, but the onslaught of advice was less welcomed.
I understand that people get excited when a baby is impending. I appreciate that the people around me want to support me and provide advice, and also that for a lot of women, they want to give me information they wish they had when they were pregnant. But the balance of helpful advice versus overly personal comments is probably skewing 60/40 in favour of the latter.
Here’s some advice I’ll gratefully take – how do I politely push back when I feel someone has crossed a line without seeming ungrateful for their concern for me? And is this what all pregnant people have gone through? Because, if so, I applaud you all for making it through with relationships and friendships still intact.