Pregnancy: The best and worst commentary
Pregnancy is such a ride, that’s for sure! I’ve decided to share some of the best and worst parts over a 3 part series to highlight some of the highs and lows, as well as the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
There are a lot of conversations that go on during a pregnancy. They range from specific questioning and interrogation, celebratory platitudes and horrific labour stories. My pregnancy was no different, offering many moments of excitement, frustration and confusion as I engaged in varied conversations with people from all corners of my life.
I’ve been reflecting over the journey on some of the best and worst of the commentary I experienced from friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues and shop assistants along the way and thought I’d share my top five.
So that I can finish on a positive note, let me start with the worst comments/questions:
1.“Was it planned?”
I am still baffled by the number of people who responded to my exciting pregnancy news with this incredible question. Are they asking if I deliberately had relations with my husband? Are they assuming that after eight years, this was perhaps an ‘oopsy’ moment that I have decided to embrace with an awkward ‘lol’?
Even if my pregnancy wasn’t planned, is there any shame in that? If a woman is trying to share her exciting pregnancy news, wouldn’t one assume this is a joyous occasion and therefore celebrate appropriately?
Further to this, what makes you think that this is an appropriate response to my news? Or anyone else’s news for that matter regardless of their marital status.
2. “Your bump is tiny, you don’t even look pregnant!”
So this never happened to me. I was bloated and covering up from 6-8 weeks and grew into a baby whale, however every pregnant mother carries differently and being told you are ‘tiny’ and ‘don’t look pregnant’ usually isn’t a great feeling. This can make mums feel like their baby isn’t growing or that they aren’t ‘doing it right’. This is especially stressful for a first-time mother who is already unsure of what is ‘normal’. I heard these comments towards other mums and it made me cringe.
3.“What’s your birth plan?”
I don’t even understand this question. My response was the same every time “ah, to get the baby out?”. I’m confused. Do people expect me to ‘plan’ my 32 hours of mostly drug free, exhausting, sleepless labour, 12 days after my due date, with an emergency c-section to cap it all off? That’s what happened. I didn’t bother having a ‘plan’. Because childbirth doesn’t follow a ‘plan’. You need at least 4-5 back up plans if you try an ideal ‘plan’.
4.“Oh you’re not eating soft cheese? You’re one of those paranoid mothers aren’t you? Back in MY day….”
Oh b*tch please! Don’t you dare judge me for protecting my child’s health. I can’t help that 30 years ago you weren’t educated about listeria and so didn’t need to worry about these things as much. I’m not paranoid. I’m educated. And sensible. No, it doesn’t mean my child will be locked indoors and unable to get dirty or fall over and injure itself. Stop judging me, please.
5. “You look exhausted! You’re very pale!”
Well, I am growing a human and carrying an additional 25kgs so yeah, it gets a little tiring. If I do manage to fall asleep I still have to wake up every time I roll over in bed, breathing is hard and climbing stairs and just being alive in general gets a little bit taxing. But I appreciate you telling me how awful I look, it’s making me feel much better about it all. *thumbs up*
Just tell me I’m glowing. Or, don’t comment on my appearance at all. Or perhaps I’ll have to sit on you…
And now the best things you can say to/ask a pregnant mother:
1.“You’re going to be great parents!”
What a lovely compliment. Pregnant mums are too overwhelmed to worry about whether or not you mean it, so they’re going to just believe that you mean it and will feel a little less anxious about being a mother and will also love you so much more for being kind and lifting them up.
2. “You’re looking great!”
I can tell you, for most of the duration of our pregnancies, we don’t feel great. But being encouraged is pretty much all we need from our friends/family etc. And one positive comment could carry us through a whole day or more.
3. “How are you feeling?”
Even better than telling a pregnant mother how they look/how to feel. Asking a mother how she’s feeling is a great way to make her feel cared about, validated and invested in.
4. Labour stories.
This could be debated by other mothers, however I really loved hearing labour stories from all ends of the spectrum. It made me feel prepared for all different scenarios. I am my own biggest competitor and I was so determined to rock labour! And like every other mother, I am a self-confessed champion. Whether the labour is drug free, 2 days, 2 hours, c-section, natural*, epidural or otherwise every woman who births/carries a child is a hero. So please, share your labour stories, celebrate them and empower other women to take on the challenge.
(* there is no such this as an ‘unnatural’ labour, I just used the term ‘natural’ so that I didn’t have to say ‘vaginal’. Oops, too late!)
5. Top Tips
This is another potential debate. When I fell pregnant, so many women told me ‘everyone will have advice and opinions, don’t listen to anyone, just do what you want’. Ok first of all, that is advice. And secondly, I enjoyed hearing the advice and the ‘best thing I learned’ or ‘worst mistake we made’ stories. There is only one prerequisite for giving advice: tone. When I was barked at, I was frustrated but 99% of the time, I wasn’t being spoken to like an idiot and most parents were simply showing love and excitement and wanting to help. Did I take all of their advice? Absolutely not. But I loved learning about different parenting ideas. Share away, I say!
So there it is. The best and worst of the commentary I experienced when I was pregnant. What were some of the things you were told/asked? Please share with us!
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