When people find out you’re pregnant, that’s it… all social conventions and boundaries magically disappear. Everyone suddenly becomes an expert in pregnancy and childbirth (yes, even those who have never had kids or been pregnant!) – they love telling you what to do, how to do it, and they become more critical and judgmental of your choices and decisions… because “it’s what’s best for you and your baby”. It’s as if you (this smart and responsible adult) are not capable of making your own choices and don’t know what’s best for you and your baby.
So, anyway, here’s my list of the 12 most annoying people you’ll meet when you’re pregnant:
1. Those who love giving unsolicited advice
“You shouldn’t be eating that!” “You shouldn’t be doing that!” “You shouldn’t be touching that!” Or worst: “You shouldn’t be standing (or sitting, or lying) that way!” (Yes, I actually get these statements thrown my way). Listen, I’m not ill, injured or incapacitated. I’m pregnant. And I’m not an idiot or an irresponsible being. I’m a smart and responsible adult who knows what’s right and wrong. From time to time, I will make a decision you don’t agree with (and that’s fine, you don’t have to agree with me), but I know what I’m doing and I’m careful; so, respect my choices, don’t be judgmental, and move on!
2. Those who think your bump is too small or too big (in my case, it was the former)
“Are you sure you’re eating enough?” “You must be dieting… you know it’s not good to go on a diet when you’re pregnant?” Yes, I’m eating enough, and no, I’m not dieting (don’t just assume I am!). In fact, I eat a lot, and I eat a lot of carbs (rice, pasta, etc); I’m just not eating more than I normally do (hey, it’s a known myth that you have to eat for two when you’re pregnant). Besides, there’s this thing called an “ultrasound” where they take your baby’s measurements and weight, and check whether your baby is developing well. So, should we just give this belly size discussion a rest? Oh, and yes, I know that it’s not good to go on a diet when you’re pregnant (thank you very much!).
3. Those who think it’s okay to ask personal questions
“Was this planned?” “How long have you been trying for?” “Have you decided where and how to give birth?” “Are you going to have an epidural?” “Would you consent to an episiotomy?” “Do you plan to breastfeed?” “So, when’s the second one?” Seriously?!
4. Those who are overly concerned
Literally every 5 minutes they go: “How are you feeling?” Or every time they meet you they go: “How are you sleeping last night?” Or with a sympathetic look they go: “That bag is really too heavy for you to carry!” Yes, yes, they mean well, but I’m not sick, bedridden or dying… I’m pregnant… and no, that bag is really fine, it’s just a handbag!
5. Those who think they know best when and how you should announce your pregnancy to the world
“Just tell people you’re pregnant, what’s the big deal?” “You should tell work now, why wait?” Or worst: “Why don’t you just announce your pregnancy on Facebook?” Excuse me for not wanting to share my personal life with any Tom, Dick and Harry out there, or bare it all on the social media. It’s my pregnancy, I will tell people the way I want to, when I want to!
6. Those who think they know best when you should go back to work
“Why are you going back to work so soon?” “You should spend more time with your baby!” “Take at least a year off.” “It won’t be the same when it’s your own, you’ll change your mind.” I find it really annoying when people think I don’t know my own mind. Look, I don’t think motherhood is beneath me. On the contrary, I think being a mother can be very fulfilling. But it doesn’t mean that I have to sacrifice my career and be a stay at home mum to be a good mother. I’ve worked tirelessly to get to where I am and I’m not willing to let it all go and change my whole life for a baby. I don’t care what people say. I happen to have a dynamic and stimulating career, one which I love and one which I can’t wait to go back to. It’s not like I don’t have any arrangements in place for childcare and it’s not like I’m just going to leave my baby in the hands of some stranger; as a matter of fact, I already have a very good arrangement in place for childcare. So, stop being judgmental and mind your own business. I’m certainly not going to stop you from giving up your career to be a full time mum if that’s what you really want.
7. Those who, for some odd reasons, only have negative things to say
“You’re so gonna balloon up!” “It’ll take you forever to get back in shape!” “You know you’ll never sleep again, right?” “You should sleep (or go out or have fun) now while you still can!” “You’ll never have time to yourself anymore.” “You’ll have to bid farewell to childless holiday!” Honestly people, is your life that miserable that you also want me to be miserable? You know what, don’t worry about me! I’m going to be just fine. Besides, I’m sure you’ve got plenty of other things to worry about already.
8. Those who think they know it all and should police everything you do (there are 2 categories of people in this group: those who say you can do everything you want and those who say you absolutely can’t do anything)
“You know you can drink right, I drank when I was pregnant and my baby’s just fine!” “Don’t you worry about caffeine, my mum literally lived on caffeine when she was pregnant and look at me!” “No, I don’t care what people say, you should avoid alcohol and caffeine altogether!” “You really shouldn’t be eating that, you could get food poisoning and it’s bad for the baby!” Whichever way I do it, I can’t win, can I?! Why don’t you just leave me alone and let me make my own decisions?
9. Those who love sharing their experiences (in the most annoying way)
“You’re not supposed to be that tired (or sick, etc)!” “I was never that tired!” “I was never that sick!” “My labour was hard, you can’t imagine…” “You know, if they cut you down there…” (and then go on to tell you about every single thing that can go wrong in labour and delivery!). Thank you, I’m feeling better and more confident about childbirth already (*sarcastic tone*).
10. Those who think that natural birth is the only way to go
“You really should be giving birth naturally at home, women have done it for centuries, don’t go against what’s natural!” “You don’t want an epidural, the side effects are just not worth it!” “You don’t need it anyway, your body is made for childbirth after all!” “Seriously, a c-section? You do know it’s a major surgery, right?” Look, I don’t have anything against natural birth. But I take no stand in which “birth method” is right or better. I think, every woman is different and every pregnancy is different. We all have the right to our preferences. If you think that natural birth is the only way to go, great, go for it. But for better or for worse, people have learnt so much about childbirth and we now have a number of medical intervening methods that could help ease labour. Whether you agree with them or not is beside the point, but under no circumstances should you judge those who prefer some or full ‘assistance’ when it comes to giving birth. What’s important is I’m healthy and my baby is healthy. Don’t tell me where and how to give birth! The right to make that choice belongs to me and me alone!
11. Those who are extremely pro breastfeeding
“You ARE going to breastfeed, aren’t you?” “It’s truly best to breastfeed your baby!” “I’m sure you know of the consequences if you don’t breastfeed.” “You must do it for at least a year!” Hey, let me get it straight… I’m also pro-breastfeeding and I’m aware of all the benefits (not just for the baby, but also for me). But I don’t think formula-fed babies are any less healthy. If you disagree, tell that to those women who are not lactating! At the end of the day, it’s again my baby, my body and my breasts you’re talking about. Have you ever heard of the right to personal autonomy?
12. Those who think they can touch and rub your belly without permission
Keep your hands off my bump, people. It’s creepy!