As I approach the final few weeks of my pregnancy (37 weeks tomorrow!) I have been reflecting a lot about my journey since the day I peed on a stick and TWO lines appeared. Not sure there is another moment in life where peeing on something can give someone more excitement! There have been ups and downs, but for the most part I can genuinely say I have had a good pregnancy and have been very lucky with the experience that I’ve had, in comparison to a lot of other women. So I am thankful for that!
Within this journey of pregnancy – for some reason – it seems that all normal boundaries that people seem to generally respect for any given person are suddenly gone. Disappeared! Vanquished! Like seriously… why does being pregnant void the need for one’s personal space?! In a spirit of fun (but also seriousness) I have decided to talk about 10 things that pregnant women want you to know… Or at least, 10 things that I want you to know…? 🙂
1. My being pregnant does not automatically give you license to touch my stomach.
Maybe this is a given to some people, but there are a whole lot of other people this is news to. I will say that I am a pretty touchy-feely person, so for the most part I really do not mind people touching my stomach and ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the miracle that is inside. What gets me is really two things: (1) Don’t touch my stomach when I’m not even showing yet. Would you go up to any other person in any other circumstance and put your hand on their stomach?? NO! If I don’t feel like I have a baby in there yet, I surely don’t want you feeling my stomach flab, thank you very much! And (2) If you are a complete stranger, please don’t come up and touch my stomach without asking. I think a good general rule for ANYONE is to always ask the mama-to-be if it’s okay if you touch their tummy before doing so, but especially if you have literally zero connection to that person. I legit had a random man walk towards me in a movie theater parking lot with his hands stretched out to graze my stomach. WHOA, SIR. HOLD IT RIGHT THERE.
2. If I want to hear your “terrible experience,” I will ask for details. Otherwise, please do not scare me.
It is absolutely normal to want to empathize with someone who is in a situation you have been in previously. However, as a first-time mom, I really don’t need or want to hear about all the horrible, negative, scary stuff that you went through in your pregnancy. Yes, I need to be prepared for the fact that giving birth will hurt (duh!) and that there are obviously some very real, serious problems that can arise during pregnancy. But please let me get that information from my doctor, family, or close friends in a way that is surrounded by positive thinking rather than a plethora of scary stories! I have enough to freak out about without that (i.e. how the heck a full-sized baby head is going to fit through my you-know-what)!
3. It isn’t necessary for you to comment about how much I am eating… I know I have a healthy appetite!
Is there another context where it is okay for a man (or woman, but specifically man) to comment multiple times about the amount of food on your plate? Nope. And it isn’t okay in pregnancy either. I went to a wedding recently where in which a man at my table (who I met for the first time at the wedding) exclaimed with wide-eyes, “There is NO WAY you will eat all of that!” to which I replied, “Yep, I will!” And proceeded to do so. And then following me finishing my dinner he points out to the whole table, “She ate it all! I can’t believe it! I couldn’t even eat all of that!” *insert death stare here*
4. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all!
We’ve all heard this one before! We’ve grown up with our parents telling us to just keep quiet if we can’t behave or be nice. Well, I think this is a great rule to apply when talking to a pregnant woman. I am mostly referring to comments about size here, but of course it applies in general as well. I really didn’t mind the comments about my growing tummy in the second trimester, and even the beginning of the third. Some women might – so you need to be conscious of it all the way through the pregnancy. But it’s been within the last month or so that I have really started to get irritated by all the comments people are making. “Are you sure there aren’t twins in there!?” “Wow, you are huge!!” “Now THAT’S gonna be a big baby!” “He must be coming any day now – not much room left in there!” Okay, okay, I GET IT. I am 37 weeks pregnant and I have a really big stomach. It’s because I have a fully formed human baby in there with only weeks left before he makes his entrance into the world! Please… PLEASE. If you are going to comment about the size of a pregnant woman’s stomach, keep the comments positive and reaffirming: “Wow, you are looking so great for __ weeks pregnant!” “You are carrying so well!” “Your growing bump is so beautiful!” etc. As someone who has been fairly lucky to “carry all up front” (as they say) and not have a ton of weight gain in other places, I still feel self-conscious about the amount of weight I’ve gained and the places that I can see my body changing, outside of my stomach. Regardless of what you think you might be saying, keep in mind that pregnant women are also a lot more hormonal than usual and it can be hard to watch your body change so drastically!
5. Please don’t make comments about my uterus, cervix, or birth canal – especially in a public place.
I really didn’t think I would ever have to say this. But if you are not my medical professional or my mother, please do not look at the way I am carrying and tell me that you think I may have problems delivering my baby due to a possible “incompetent cervix” or whatever your non-professional medical opinion is. Do I need to elaborate on why this is unnecessary?
6. I know I need to “get as much sleep as possible now” – and trust me, I’m trying!
This one is funny, because people like to tell pregnant women that they need to fuel up and sleep as much as possible before the baby arrives… The thing is, when you can’t sleep on your stomach or your back, and you have to get up 4-6 times per night to pee, and you have 17 pillows shoved in different spots around your body so you can actually feel somewhat comfortable, it is hard to get a good night’s sleep. I know the sentiment is there that people want you to be rested because once baby comes there will be a lot of sleepless nights ahead… But… Don’t you think I know this!? I want sleep just as much as the next person, except I’ve got an enlarged bowling ball attached to the front of my body to fight with every night!
7. I still want to be invited places, even if I don’t actually want to go.
It has to be said – once you’re pregnant, people just think you don’t want to go out and do anything anymore. And maybe that’s true in a lot of ways, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be included/invited anymore! I want to be able to make my own decision about whether or not I can handle a late night, or a girls’ night surrounded by delicious sangria that I can’t partake in (*insert tears here*). And this probably goes for after baby comes too… Please don’t forget about me!!
8. Don’t force your opinion of whether baby will come early or late on me.
You can have your guess about my due date… heck, I think my family is going to do a “baby pool” and put in their guesses for weight and date of arrival, which is so fun! But after you comment to me that, “Oh, you’re definitely going to go early” and I say, “Well, I’ve still got a few weeks to go so we shall see!” just leave it alone… Don’t proceed to force your opinion that I’m “definitely” going early and there’s “no doubt about it” due to “how big I am.” Okay… I realize this point is also kind of about size as well, but it’s an epidemic!!! The baby will come when he/she is ready to come – regardless of your opinion!
9. As a first-time mom, I do appreciate your pregnancy and newborn tips!
If you have gone through pregnancy before and have children of your own, I am not going to sit back and pretend that I know everything because I read some articles online, went to one prenatal class, and babysat when I was a teenager. I do welcome your tips and advice on things like how to stay comfortable during pregnancy, preparing for childbirth, what to pack in my hospital bag, what your favourite stroller/carseat is, and newborn care in those first few weeks! Just know that if I don’t take your advice, it’s probably because I’ve decided it’s not what will work best for me and there is no offence to be taken. Also, I don’t need your full parenting strategy from newborn to age 10 when I haven’t even had my first child yet. There are good and bad ways to give advice, and you just need to pay attention to how the mama-to-be you’re talking to is reacting when you are giving her advice. Is she asking lots of questions, looking engaged, and interacting with the topic at hand? Or does she seem quiet, uninterested, or irritated? If the latter, probably best to limit the amount of advice you are giving!
10. I am excited that you are excited!
There is nothing better than your family, friends, and even complete strangers being super excited for you and your growing family – especially as you enter the final weeks of pregnancy! Trust me, I have and am still dealing with fears and anxieties of giving birth and having a real, live baby to take care of! But the fact that people around me are checking in with me, supporting me, and expressing excitement for what is to come is really helpful and also makes me more excited!
I want to end this post by saying that although I have commented sarcastically about a lot of things in pregnancy, I have no ill-feelings towards anyone who may feel that they have done or said one of these things to me during my pregnancy. I know that for the most part, people are well-intentioned when they make comments to me about my pregnant belly, etc. but I think it is also important for non-pregnant people to know what it is like on “the other side” as well!
I’d love to hear from any other pregnant women, or previously pregnant women, who have had experiences that could contribute to this list! Share your stories in the comments below 🙂