Sunday, 10 January 2016

Baby Body Shaming (& Other Pregnancy Gripes!)

 Why is it that as soon as we announce we're pregnant other people feel as though they suddenly have a right to comment on, touch and judge both you and your body? It's almost from the get-go everyone else assumes they have the right to tell you what you can and can't eat, how fat you've got that week and even whether or not you look particularly tired on that day.

When I announced that I was expecting I'll admit I kind of want a flurry of well wishes and hugs and everyone congratulating us. Quickly I realised that wasn't going to be the case, certain people were really excited, many people didn't really care and a few were vocally disapproving. I have always been of the ideas that we're all different and we all want different things, at different times. That's what makes the world go around. But suddenly it seems, when you're having a baby, people can openly judge you.

Some of the worst offenders, surprisingly, are mothers themselves. You get the "been there done that" kind of mother who whatever you're experiencing, they've had 10 times worse whilst flying round the world solo balancing on their head. Morning Sickness? They lost twice as much weight as you did. Tiredness? They had to do it all plus then some and no-ever cared then how tired you were. I myself am well and truly out of the testing first trimester, but when a friend recently came to me with awful symptoms, I like to think that I offered my support and advice, rather than comment on how much worse it will get. You get the Debbie Downers who think everything is the end of the world, "how will you afford it?", "you aren't even married", "shouldn't you have waited?" Shouldn't you mind your own business? We made an informed, conscious decision to have this baby (and even if we hadn't, we're both adults) I shouldn't have to justify myself to anybody about my choice to have a baby. You get the interferers, who feel they have a right to publicly comment and pick out your flaws. I had one Mum actually comment on a photo I'd uploaded to Instagram that I shouldn't be eating said food in the picture. It really knocked my confidence and even though I knew I'd checked earlier, it made me trawl the internet again to ensure I was right in thinking I could eat it. If you're that concerned about someone, maybe a private message is a better option than publicly calling them out? And maybe check your own facts first. You also get the dramatisers, I know of one lady who said outright the hospital had told her to stop doing something, then proceeded to upload several posts of her doing that exact thing. This grinds my gears in all walks of life but never more so than when there's an unborn child 100% dependent on your body. I personally won't judge the decisions she's making as they're hers to make but then to plead for sympathy when she's suffering nasty side effects and still being moaned at for the doctors is something I struggle to ignore. Us expectant, new or experienced mothers should all be cheering each other on and building us all up, not tearing us down and making it into a competition.

Understandably (maybe) are those who don't have children, don't want children and have no interest in looking after children. I find their comments easier to brush off as I can accept that we just have differing views on how we want to live our lives but recently a man who I didn't know very well actually said to my face that I'd ruined my life. I couldn't mention the fact I was pregnant without getting a disapproving look and asked why on Earth I'd made such a decision. Did I know all she was going to do was poo and scream? Was I aware that my life was over for the next 18 years? Has anyone told me just how much it costs to raise a baby? How will I have a social life? Take my sister as an opposite example of this, she isn't particularly interested in having children. She'll love her niece when she arrives and no doubt will dote on her, but at the moment having one of her own isn't on the agenda for her. I don't question her choices, she doesn't question mine. We're different people. Strangers however seem to feel they can pass judgement on my differing way of life.

The only other thing that has really gotten me down whilst being pregnant is the "I didn't realise you were pregnant, I just thought you were a bit fat" comments. Since when has it been okay to tell anyone you thought they were "a bit fat" let alone a pregnant lady? I've had a bit of a problem with my growing body and escalating weight during my pregnancy so when people comment on my appearance and exclaim that they had to be told I was pregnant rather than had just piled on the pounds, it really got to me. Pregnancy effects everyone's body differently, I've seen ladies nowhere near as far along with me who have bumps much larger and I've also seen those who are farther along but still look smaller. Some ladies gain weight, some seem to lose it. As long as the baby measures well, what does it matter? I was starting to get really upset that my bump possibly wasn't big enough but at the end of the day, she's alive and very much kicking in there so she must be fine. To then have comments along the lines that I just look podgy rather than actually pregnant even when I was over 5 months gone, shook my confidence again. People (those who are pregnant and who aren't) should really learn that no two baby bumps are the same, I may even fall pregnant again and look completely different the second time around. Either way, it is not okay to comment on the appearance of a pregnant lady much the same as you wouldn't someone who isn't, so why do people think just because you're pregnant they have a right to comment on you?

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