A common theme that seems to keep coming up in conversations related to motherhood is “mom shaming.” I know I have lots to look forward to in terms of unsolicited parenting advice from strangers, friends & family & acquaintances. While I’m not there yet (lucky me), I have already experienced some “pregnancy shaming.”
A common shaming topic has been about my changing body. I have had THREE coworkers all say “I’m so glad to hear you’re pregnant, I’ve been watching you the past few weeks and just thought you were getting fat!” WHAT?! There are so many things about this that bothers me:
1. What I’m hearing from you is that on a daily basis you were watching and critiquing my body and made opinions on my body. Pregnant or not, I don’t think this is OK. Especially in the workplace?!
2. It’s never OK to comment on another person’s body – pregnant or not. I thought this was common knowledge? Apparently not, so letting people know here in case they weren’t aware… ?
3. All three people literally sounded relieved that my changing mid-section was a result of pregnancy and not some extra weight gain. This strikes me as so odd. If I wasn’t pregnant, how does me gaining a few pounds effect you? How is that something that you need to concern yourself with? They were clearly concerned and watching my progress daily. It’s so puzzling to me?
For all these encounters, i’ve laughed it off and shrugged it off. Annoyed yes, reading into it, no. If this has happened or does happen to any other preggos out there, don’t let it bother you. It’s their issue not yours.
Another popular pregnancy shamming topic has to do with your diet. SUSHI, WINE, CAFFEINE – LET’S GO THERE. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what pregnant women should and shouldn’t be eating/drinking. As a pregnant woman, I am constantly googling what’s safe, reaching out to my doctor with specific questions and reading tons of baby books. I think it’s fair to say most pregnant women take their pregnancies very seriously and are constantly consulting their OB and Google for even the tiniest thing. So when you see a pregnant woman consuming something you may have thought was a faux-paux I would encourage you to give her the benefit of the doubt that she has made an informed decision about what is safe for her and her baby.
Like I said, the hottest 3 topics seem to be sushi, wine and caffeine. Here’s where I’ve landed on those things:
* Sushi- I’ve talked to so many pregnant women in LA who said they ate sushi throughout their pregnancy. I personally love sushi, it’s a comfort food of mine. I haven’t had any since being pregnant because of nausea but have been starting to crave it. Now that i’m farther along and feeling good I would be open to having some and just making a smart decision to eat from a reputable place and not some whole in the wall at a strip mall. To be honest, I probably would order take out or delivery because I don’t feel comfortable eating in a sushi restaurant as I know I would get some looks.
* Wine & Beer- At about 6 months, after the nausea got better, wine started sounding appealing again. In the early months, the smell made my stomach turn. Now, i’ll enjoy one half glass once or twice a week. I just make sure I don’t feel tipsy at any point and also make sure to drink a lot of water. For me, a little glass of wine is necessary to get through the stress of pregnancy & work. You need to be able to still feel like yourself. Also, beer (yeast) is apparently excellent for milk supply and lactation. My sister in law who is a nurse recommended Guinness. So I will also occasionally have 1 Guinness and will probably starting having it more regularly (again only 1 a day) when I get closer to my due date. If you haven’t made yourself and Guinness Ice cream float i’d highly recommend it, especially in the summer.
* Caffeine – i’m not one of those people that needs a coffee in the morning to get going. However, with the pregnancy the level of exhaustion is unreal. Being able to get to work on time is a serious struggle and now I depend on that morning cup of coffee most days than not. Even my own husband shames me about this. “You should take it easy on the caffeine” he says with a critical look as I pour myself a less than 8oz cup of coffee. I looked at him and asked “did you read some articles on pregnancy and caffeine?” “No.” “ok, then…?” People always have opinions, most haven’t actually looked into it and you better believe I DID read several articles on what was a safe amount to consume before I started drinking caffeine. Also, for the women who tell you “I NEVER had caffeine during my pregnancy” you can remind her that there is caffeine in chocolate and i’m pretty sure no pregnant woman ever refrained from chocolate during the entire course of her pregnancy. I’ve ordered coffee or tea and had baristas tell me “oh, that has caffeine in it.” At which point I usually chicken out and say, “Oh thanks for telling me, what are your decaf options?” and silently cry on the inside…
Medication – this is something i’m still dealing with and worried about. I’ve been very honest about my issues with daily migraines and working with my neurologist, OB & acupuncturist before and during my pregnancy to try to make the best decision for my health and my baby’s. All three seem to agree my quality of life matters too. While i’ve been able to tapper off on some of the medication and have stayed consistent with acupuncture, supplements and yoga to try to find natural alternatives, I still do need to take a good amount of preventative migraine medication. My OB has assured me she isn’t concerned but of course I still worry and have that guilt. Maybe if I didn’t have to also work it could be different and I’d be able to suffer meds free in a dark room for a full day with a migraine. But I need to be able to go to work and to continue to function.
So regardless of my confident sounding statements above, i’m still not confident in this or sticking up for myself. I’ve refrained from ordering things or going to certain places because i’m worried about shaming and I don’t want that confrontation. I know a lot of these topics are hot button issues that people have strong opinions are. I think the takeaway i’d love for people to get from this post is that pregnancies are individual, no two are alike and we have to find ways to encourage and support moms-to-be. I know this is easier said than done. I’m guilty of seeing preggos and mothers do things differently than I would and forming an opinion and it’s actively something i’m working on.