Judgement and pregnancy. Sadly these two things go hand in hand.
Most people are parents at some point in their life. So it’s an obvious fact that everyone has their own opinion on pregnancy and parenthood.
This has probably always been the case, but the advent of social media has taken these opinions to the next level. Online, these opinions become judgments rather than people sharing their experiences.
These days a woman can’t open her browser without some article or status on social media condemning an element of pregnancy or motherhood. Before, mothers-to-be would be surrounded by supportive family and close friends, not shrouded by a dark cloud of anxiety of people and articles constantly telling them what to do and not to do.
While you are still basking in the emotional high of your pregnancy, people, sometimes even complete strangers, start to bombard you with their list of rules, judgements, and opinions of everything related to your pregnancy.
“Well, I only gained 20 pounds my entire pregnancy!”
“Are you sure you should be drinking/eating that?”
“You’re taking medication for your nausea? I sure didn’t! That’s bad for the baby.”
“You’re going back to work that soon after giving birth?”
“Working out like that isn’t safe.”
“You’re breastfeeding, right?”
I’m most likely being judged for publishing this post!
Once you become pregnant and your body seemingly doesn’t belong to you anymore, people feel the right to judge you for just about everything.
While I am usually good at tuning out the negativity and taking the countless opinions with a grain of salt, I can’t help but feel a growing sense of anxiety. (As if the normal first time mom anxiety isn’t enough!)
Where is this negativity toward pregnant women and mothers coming from? I can’t help but think that all this negativity is rooted in society’s general nonacceptance of and anxiety over women’s bodies and sexuality. The endless criticism women receive regarding the way they dress, their sexual lifestyle, and self confidence leads to the idea that women never own the right to their own bodies.
We continue to sexualize the female body but also demand that women be modest. No one wins.
This problem only intensifies during pregnancy and motherhood. Pregnant women receive immense attention (both negative and positive) from most anyone. They can’t walk down the street without a stranger wanting to touch their belly, demand their due date, sex of child, name of child, and social security number.
Yet when women decide to celebrate their own pregnancies they are labeled as “smug” or “narcissistic”.
People love telling you their opinion of baby products, sleep training, breast feeding, baby wearing, and prenatal care. However, when you start discussing your own desires it suddenly becomes too much.
I find myself being self conscious, not wanting to bore people with baby talk. But am I supposed to shut my mouth for the rest of my life? Silence my own thoughts? Because, yes, while it may not be the number one priority to you, my baby will be my number one priority for the rest of my life. Isn’t silencing women’s voices and not celebrating their autonomy the precise thing we have been trying to move away from?
Most recently I found myself starting a sentence using, “Well, don’t judge me but…”
This was in relation to the small gender reveal party we are having this Saturday.
Just type in “gender reveal party” in Google and you’ll be hit with a litany of articles complaining about how crass, narcissistic, and unnecessary such parties are. Why all the negativity over a simple party? Why not keep your opinions to yourself? If you don’t want to attend a party celebrating a baby, whether it be a shower, gender reveal, or a sip and see, just don’t go.
On Friday, I have my anatomy ultrasound. The sex of our baby will be revealed, but only my mom will know. On Saturday night our families and a couple of my best girlfriends are gathering together for a night of food, drinks, and cake. The sex will be revealed by the color of the icing inside of the cake.
I am beyond excited to find out the sex of our baby. I’m not going to hide this excitement! I think it’s fun and only invited those that I know care and will be part of my baby’s future. But you don’t want to know how much I debated whether or not I should have this gathering due to the judgement I know surrounds such events.
Of course no one but you and your family and close friends care as much about your pregnancy and your baby. I get that. But if people don’t care, why all the judgement surrounding your choices?
Maybe part of the preparation of becoming a mother is learning to let go of all the surrounding judgements; to teach you how to live in a world full of critics and still raise your child as an independent self who can be proud of their confident mother.
People are always going to have opinions on pregnancy and motherhood.
Decide which ones you trust and want to listen to but always remember your opinion is the most important. If I want your opinion I will ask for it, and believe me, I’ve done plenty of asking in the past few months.
Otherwise I think that most pregnant women and mothers want to share and have a sense of solidarity with others.
Pregnancy is hard. Motherhood is extremely hard. All women know this. Why can’t we support each other? Why must there be this smug competition between women?
I’m going to continue to follow my intuition and stay off Google. (or try my best…) But most importantly I’m going to celebrate and love my pregnancy and child with my full heart.