did you know your pregnancy comments are a body conversation?

i’ve had a lot of time to sit on some thoughts and feelings about this subject for a couple of months now… since right about the time i started getting a belly.

so, late pregnancy starts to really show you how many conversational freaks there are out there in the world. people start saying, and sometimes shouting from the other side of the street, odd comments about your growing frame. for some reason these statements have put me more on my guard than my first pregnancy. i think a good deal about the way i feel women’s bodies are treated and discussed has changed within me since my pregnancy with darla. i have a few thoughts to put out there for you to ponder, should you choose:

i think there is some kind of drive within people that makes them want to connect with pregnant mothers. we all want to connect with life. i wholeheartedly believe this drive stems from a good place, a human place, but society at large seems to be lacking in some tools for communicating with women about this life change, probably due to the aforementioned undercurrent of negativity we have going on towards women’s bodies.

the majority of comments i get from people, strangers and not, are negative. these comments are about my size, how tired i look, “you’re about to pop” or “are you sure there aren’t two in there?” and other things of various negative connotations. i think i can tell you with 100% certainty that no woman, pregnant or not, has ever been happy to hear she looks big or tired or about to pop.

and let me state two other things i know as a fact: 1. in the scheme of pregnant ladies, i’m on the smaller end. yes, i look big for my frame but i know i’m not big enough for people to assume i’m carrying twins. 2. i’m a happy pregnant lady. i am embracing this bigness. I LIKE my roundness and LOVE this body fullness. i’m clearly not shy about it since i put in on the gawddamned internet every week, so i’m imagining that if it’s hard for me to let these comments roll off then how does the mother who really doesn’t like how her body is changing in pregnancy or the extremely shy mother feel about these unwarranted remarks?

i feel most people forget that these comments are still body conversations and those should never be initiated by a person other than the body owner.

i find it so odd that people think pregnancy is an automatic open door to make negative remarks about another human’s physique. i mean, i’ve never thought of walking up to a person in a wheel chair and saying “wow, really can’t use those legs, can you?” or a person with a large nose and saying “you’re nose is SO BIG. you must be so uncomfortable!”  and then i’d absolve myself of any wrong by adding a quick “it’s not rude of me to say that, right?”

i want to offer up some tools. i talk with pregnant women, a lot. A LOT. and i am a pregnant woman. i will tell you one thing that is always acceptable to say:  you look beautiful. let’s just stick with telling pregnant women they look beautiful. ok?

and maybe you don’t feel that way. maybe you don’t feel pregnant ladies are all glowy and radiant. that is fine! you don’t have to say anything at all. you don’t! we aren’t expecting it!

or here’s another idea if you’re wanting to initiate a pregnancy related conversation with an expectant mother: ask her how she’s feeling. it’s so refreshing when i receive that depth of communication from another human. you can just ask a woman how she’s feeling and let her tell you where she’s at with her body changes. we’re circling back to that body ownership thing again. let HER be the one to tell you she’s tired. let HER be the one to tell you she’s big. Let HER be the one to tell you she fears there may be another secret human in there. i think if we treated women with this kind of respect we’d all feel much more at ease with how organic these conversations can be.

maybe i’m a little sensitive to this because this experience seems parallel to other body conversations i’ve had to fend off for the better part of my life. part of the reason that i like my big belly is that something on my body finally dwarfs my enormous breasts that people seem to think are in the free realm of conversation. since i was 15 people have been making comments to me about my boobs. i’ve navigated that in many different ways at different phases of my life and now i’ve put a finger on this similarity between pregnancy and my breasts. strangers comment, women ask for permission to touch them in bathrooms, gay men don’t even ask for permission they just do it {sorry, just my personal experience} and i’ve had all variations from hetero men as well.

and i can’t rationalize that as much as the pregnancy talks. i know the common thread here is that women’s bodies seem to be part of the public sphere and not the private. and i can’t change that. but i feel that if our bodies are going to be part of the public conversation forum then i can do a small something to change it into POSITIVE communication instead of negative.

i will tell my pregnant friends they are beautiful. i will ask pregnant strangers how they are feeling. i will let other women tell me how THEY feel about THEIR bodies and i will listen with respect.

because that is what i feel mothers and women deserve.

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4 thoughts on “did you know your pregnancy comments are a body conversation?

  1. Wow well put! I also am proud of my bump because I know that my body is doing the most bad ass amazing thing in the world, but I do feel big and uncomfortable, and I don’t really like that. I try not to let people calling me big bother me, but there is a little piece of me that can’t help but be bothered. Your suggestions on how to talk to a pregnant woman are great. I enjoy how you always make pregnancy seem like such a beautiful thing. Thank you.

    • Steph, love your attitude! The human body is a badass and we’re lucky at how it shows off during pregnancy ;-) I do see pregnancy as a beautiful thing and I’m happy to share that. As modern women most of us only experience it maybe 2-3 times, so there’s no room for seeing it as anything other than a majestic life experience for me. Congrats on your baby and bodacious bump!

  2. Elaine, I cannot tell you how much this speaks to me and how much I love it. During my last pregnancy, it got to the point where I hated leaving the house because all I ever heard were negative comments about my body. I tried very hard not to let it bother me, but the fact of the matter is that it did. It bothered me quite a bit, really. At about 27 weeks people starting commenting about how I must be due any day. I still had 13 WEEKS! Reading this almost brought tears to my eyes. I wish more people realized the truth in what you talked about here.
    I am short. My belly gets big. Get over it and say something nice.

    • Oh Erin, I’m so sorry you experienced so much negativity about your body in the end of pregnancy. Your body has grown 3 amazing babies and deserves all the nice remarks in the world! Or at least you deserve to be left alone about it! Somewhere along the line it became acceptable communication to talk about our bodies this way and folks need gentle reminders that these are our bodies and babies they are talking about. Please feel free to share this post if you think it might help even one person consider these remarks differently. Each of us can shrug these remarks off fairly easily but it’s the widespread culture of it that bothers me most. Love to you and your baby-growing body!

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