Why Do We Judge The Way Women Share Pregnancy News?

September 19, 2016  |  

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The Haves and Have Nots star Tika Sumpter recently announced that she is more than seven months pregnant. While good wishes are normally in order, the talented actress received a great deal of criticism about her delayed news. In the midst of the judgment, Sumpter eloquently stated her reasoning for waiting so long to tell the world about her latest blessing.

“She’s my first child, and I wanted to experience every moment of this pregnancy for myself and enjoy it without everybody else being in it with me,” Sumpter told Fit Pregnancy and Baby. “I didn’t want to hear, ‘Who’s the dad? Are you with the dad?’”

I could appreciate the first-time mother, who is expecting a baby girl in October with Haves and Have Nots co-star Nick James according to Bossip.com, releasing a statement about her decision. Still, I was slightly annoyed that she even felt the need to.

Maybe people feel that since she’s in the public eye, they have a right to know every single detail of what’s going on with her, so they get upset when intimate aspects of her life aren’t shared. Or worse, they assume they know why she’s keeping certain things to herself and judge her for her presumed reasoning.

Unfortunately, pregnant celebrities aren’t the only people who fall victim to unsolicited criticism and judgment as soon as they share their pregnancy news. My friends and I have received the same kind of treatment, and it’s usually about when and how the announcement is made.

Regrettably, I was initially part of that group of judge and jurors about five years ago. A friend decided to share her pregnancy at 20 weeks. Now, I always knew that the normal time for women to spill the beans about their baby was the standard 12 weeks (the end of the first trimester and when the chances of a miscarriage drops to about five percent). Because of that, we didn’t understand why she kept her pregnancy private for so long (ironically, she handled her second pregnancy the same way). And even though we were confused by her actions, we didn’t dare question her about it, and she never explained why she did it — not that she had to.

It’s crazy how your perspective changes when you’re in the same situation in which you previously judged. When I became pregnant for the first time years later, I completely understood where my friend was coming from. Although I opted to give an official pregnancy announcement at 12 weeks, I quickly learned that it is at 20 weeks that the loss of a child is considered a stillbirth (whereas before 20 weeks it can still be a huge risk and is indeed considered a miscarriage). Were my friend’s two previous pregnancies considered high risk and is that why she waited five months to say anything? Or was she just a concerned mother? After finding myself in the protective mother role, I realized that she had every right to her privacy, and to go about sharing the news in whatever way she saw fit.

In her Fit Pregnancy and Baby interview, Sumpter stated that she is protective of her family, which contributed to her staying mum about her baby girl. As a mother, I can completely relate. A pregnant woman, especially if it’s their first child, has so many worries, fears and anxiety surrounding her pregnancy that the last thing she should deal with is criticism aimed at how she is handling it.

Regardless of the reasoning behind someone not sharing something as personal as welcoming a child into the world as soon as they know, people on the outside have no right to that knowledge — public figure or not. If you weren’t part of creating that child and won’t have any part in raising that child, then your expectations should be lowered. Your judgments should be kept to yourself, lest you find yourself in a similar situation and have to deal with the same negativity. Instead of dictating how someone else should handle their special moments, try celebrating with them. Or better yet, make an even greater effort to keep your commentary to yourself.

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