Pregnancy Bullying: Are You Guilty?

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pregnancybullying

As a woman who struggled with fertility issues for many years, nothing brought me more joy than that first wave of morning sickness that surged through my body when I was pregnant with my son. My stomach ached, my head felt foggy, and I found myself face down in the toilet, dry heaving and thinking, “Oh my goondess, this is it! This is so exciting! I thought this would never happen to me!”

While I wasn’t super thrilled with my expanding waist line, displaced hips, and ogre-like feet at the end of a long day, I still reveled in it. What I had once been told was probably an unattainable dream- had finally become reality. And for that, I’d gladly be uncomfortable.

I read many books in my quest to get pregnant, then read even more once I actually became pregnant. Needless to say, I felt quite prepared for pregnancy. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the peanut gallery of experienced moms, women who had walked the same journey I was walking. Instead of wanting to encourage me along the way they seemed to seek to do the opposite. Unfortunately, I am not in the minority of women who have been down wind of unnecessary pregnancy hazing.

Things that are NOT OKAY to Say to a Pregnant Woman:

  • “Enjoy this time while you have it because after you give birth, you will never have your freedom back.”
    Well, that’s discouraging. Why would someone even say that?!
  • “Is this your first? I was so much smaller with my first.”
    Good for you! I’m now going to eat a donut to try to drown out this rude comment.
  • “You are so tiny! Are you eating enough for your baby?”
    This was never said to me, mind you, but I’ve heard someone say it. And then I subsequently watched the pregnant woman’s face drop, as she started to doubt herself and wonder if her baby really wasn’t thriving.
  • “You look really bloated and puffy today.”
    Right back at ya, inappropriate weirdo.
  • “Wow! You look so exhausted.”
    You think?! I’m growing a human being inside my body!
  • “Oh, so you think you are tired now!” (Followed by obnoxious laughter) “Just wait until the 3AM feedings start!”
    This sounds more like we’re competing for who can claim to be more tired. Not helpful.
  • “Are you sure it’s not twins?”
    This is always followed by a head nod and a wink as if to reiterate that their comment was based on the fact that the person they are asking is ginormous.
  • “I was in labor for sixty-two hours, and my epidural FAILED! I felt like my body was being ripped in two!”
    Labor is daunting enough for a new mom. Why increase her fear?
  • “You know what sometimes happens when you are in labor? You poop on the table!”
    While that does make sense given the pushing that goes on during labor, this comment does nothing but make the pregnant woman extra self-conscious about being in the delivery room.

I’m not suggesting we sugar coat everything (After all, even people who haven’t given birth know exactly how these tiny humans exit the womb to enter the world), but how about we women join together in female solidarity and pledge to uplift other women who are experiencing the joys and difficulties of pregnancy?! None of us who have experienced this sort of pregnancy hazing have appreciated it, and yet somehow, we go on to repeat the pattern of pregnancy bullying. Let’s not pass it along to more soon-to-be mothers. The next time you run into a pregnant friend or even a stranger, substitute any and all of the above comments for one simple one:

“Wow. You truly look amazing.”

Because pregnancy is amazing. And every woman, no matter how puffy, bloated, tired, or waddly she becomes, deserves to revel in the joy of the growing bundle inside of her and not be burdened and discouraged by others’ thoughtless comments. Besides, as my friend Kate says, waddling is just another way of saying “mama swagger.” I think that sounds much better.

Did you receive negative comments while you were pregnant? If so, how do you change the way you approach pregnant women now because of your past experiences?

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Megan has called Colorado Springs home since 2008 when she and her husband of twelve years moved here after serving for two years as Peace Corps volunteers in the beautiful country of Macedonia. She spent her time in Macedonia teaching in a village school, working alongside college professors at a university, and having long, luxerious coffee dates with some of the best people she has ever been priviledged to know. Megan's educational background is in Secondary English Education, and most of her working life has been spent teaching English to junior high students, a grade level that she absolutely adores. Starting this year, she has stepped away from the classroom to explore the world of Communications, and she is excited to be serving as the Strategic Communications Coordinator for a local charter school. When Megan isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with close friends and family; however, her introverted side is just as content being alone on her front porch with a good book and a hot (often re-heated multiple times) cup of coffee. Her interests also include writing, scoring deals at garage sales, and trying (but usually failing) to be creative with her sewing machine. Megan’s boys keep her on her toes with their crazy antics and energetic spirits, but they are always quick to settle down if it means snuggling up to their mama and reading, a pastime in which she happily obliges them.

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