Growing up, I watched pregnant women be subjected to people’s comments about their bodies and didn’t think anything of it. I usually witnessed talk about how big someone was, how small someone was, “how well” someone carried, or how the positioning of their bump, whether it was high or low, meant that they were going to have a boy or a girl. It was normalized for me then, and I can’t say that I haven’t openly made comments about pregnant women’s bodies thinking nothing of it. I’ve even had moments where I commented on a pregnant woman’s size. I never came from a malicious place, but I also didn’t think about how it might feel from the pregnant woman’s perspective. Then I grew up, decided to have a baby, and got a hard dose of karma.
I always assumed that pregnant women started developing a visible bump after the first trimester but I was wrong and naive. Now I know better. Like everything, how you carry varies by woman. I had a small bump until I was almost 8 months pregnant. Before then, people struggled to even see my bump depending on what I wore and often thought I just had an everyday pooch. I even had an incident where I was at the Pink Tea Cup (in Brooklyn before the reality show) standing in line for the bathroom. There was a more visibly pregnant woman standing behind me and when my friend saw me preparing to go into the bathroom he told me to “Let the pregnant woman go first.” He looked at me like I was lying when I told him I was pregnant too, even when I tightened my shirt over my belly to show my pooch. I was at least six months by then. The woman behind me saw my pooch and confirmed that I was probably pregnant and even said, “See you can never just assume when it comes to a woman’s body.” My friend was mortified because ultimately he meant well — and apologized — but that was just one incident of some that were more uncomfortable.
There was another when a woman at a street festival asked me how far along I was and, of course, had to tell me that I was small, as if I didn’t know, with a disapproving face. Then she asked me if I was eating. That was none of her business but I was actually struggling to eat. I had acid reflux so severe that it really was a struggle to keep food down. I lived on Tums and Zantac. Again, it was none of her business and I didn’t owe her an explanation but when I told her what I was going through with the GERD, her judgy facial expression softened because she felt stupid. Then she attempted to try to give me advice that I didn’t ask for about drinking water mixed with baking soda, but I told her that I was fine and that my OBGYN had it handled. Mind you, my OBGYN had already told me not to drink water with baking soda so my point is, all of you people who think you know everything should just be quiet. In the age of opinions ad nauseam, it really is okay if you keep yours to yourself because being quiet costs nothing.
But in case you’re still not convinced, here are four reasons why you should keep your comments about pregnant women’s bodies to yourselves.
1. It’s none of your business.
This is the most obvious reason, but the memo has been lost on a lot of people. You are most likely not an OBGYN or a midwife so you don’t really know anything about what someone’s size could mean for their pregnancy. If you think they’re too small, mind your business. If you think they’re too big, mind your business. Even if you think they look great for their size, mind your business or simply tell them they look great without adding anything about their size or even trying to compare them to other pregnant women. Sure, maybe you mean well…or not (because some people just have diarrhea of the mouth), but the best thing to do is keep your comments to yourself.
2. You never know what people are going through.
Like I mentioned earlier, I carried small, which made me feel insecure at times. When you’re pregnant you worry about everything. Every. Single. Thing. Because I believed that pregnancy should look a certain way, when it didn’t look that way on me, I got frustrated. I worried that my daughter wasn’t growing or getting the nutrients she needed even though she was. Every single doctor’s appointment checked out fine for me, but hearing people’s comments about how small I was was consistent and annoying. Some people said it like it was a great thing while other people said it with judgy concern. Now that I’m on the other side, I know that I was being ridiculous but if I can sway someone else to just leave pregnant women alone then that’s what I’m going to do. Pregnant women do not need any more stress. Try to have some sympathy or even empathy and remember that being quiet is free 99.
3. If it’s not okay to body shame anyone else, then don’t think pregnancy is the exception.
It’s rude to make comments about a woman’s body period. Periodt. Pregnancy doesn’t mean she’s fair game.
4. It’s the right thing to do.
Human decency seems to be practiced by a small minority these days. With everyone thinking that real life is the actual internet, blurting mean comments and trash behavior seems to be taking precedence over everything but how about, try to be a decent human being. Treat people the way you would want to be treated. That really is a thing and it’s great when practiced. If the words coming out of your mouth are harsh or could trigger someone or would make you feel upset if it were the other way around then keep them to yourself.
Have you ever dealt with people’s annoying comments while you were pregnant? How did you cope?