Advice for a Pregnant Person? Some Thoughts....
Something that I have observed from being pregnant is how much interest people take in the bodies and choices of pregnant women. In the past few months- and most noticeably the past few weeks since I have entered into my third trimester- it feels as though my body has somehow become a part of the public domain. Since I have become pregnant, family, friends, acquaintances and strangers alike have felt emboldened to comment on my physical appearance and offer unsolicited advice related to what I should and should not be doing or how I should and should not approach giving birth.
There is a lot of pressure to perform pregnancy these days – this idea that when you are pregnant you are this blissful glowing goddess – the picture of femininity. There is an entire industry built around this idea, which contributes to the often unrealistic image of a woman who loves every moment of being pregnant.
This idea leaves a lot of women feeling guilty for not experiencing pregnancy in that way. It also creates the impression that if you complain about pregnancy, you are not grateful to be pregnant – but the reality is that you can be grateful and feel miserable at the same times – the two can exist simultaneously.
I must say that it is difficult to appear happy when you don’t sleep, vomit several times a day and feel as though a giant spaceship has attached itself to your body – 8 months in, I’m still waiting on the glow.
Of course, the criticism and observation of pregnant bodies is nothing new. The bodies and, of course, the reproductive choices of women have long been controlled and surveilled by the government. Recent laws adopted in states across the country have restricted and criminalized a woman’s right to an abortion. These laws, which masquerade as protecting the fetus, seem utterly unconcerned with protecting the rights of the pregnant woman.
Although a pregnant belly is very visible, being pregnant and giving birth is an extremely personal experience. Being pregnant and the prospect of giving birth can also trigger a lot of anxiety and fears. So please, for the love of all things holy and sacred, ask the pregnant woman first if advice is welcome – please don’t spew out everything you know or have heard about being pregnant. Also, please be mindful when sharing your own experiences of pregnancy. The thought of giving birth is intimidating enough without being regularly reminded of how difficult it can be.