Have you brushed up on your pregnancy etiquette?

Let’s do a refresh.

Ok ladies, (and men if you’re reading this) let’s talk about pregnancy etiquette.

The world is booming with pregnant women and it feels especially booming when you live in a very small town (such as Roxby). Right now every second woman I see is announcing pregnancy and we are all due to pop between September and January. (*Note – Our babies have been given the term Covid babies. But my baby, and yours, is not a pandemic, so I politely say, fuck that term).

I digress – This is a beautiful and wonderful time.

Image: Rebecca Ivkovich– Illustrator os SHE: A collection of you, me, her

Whilst some of us are old hats at this whole pregnancy thing as we experience our now second, third or fourth babies, it is now more than ever that we need to be mindful of our new mums-to-be.

There are many women who are about to become first time mums. They have never had to experience the judgment that can come with being pregnant and then following as a mother. It is our responsibility as their female tribe, their village, not only to nurture them through this time, but also to take caution in the stories that we tell of our own pregnancies, births, and motherhood.

I can admit that even I have become rather relaxed in the way I react to particular comments. I’ve grown the thick skin that comes with carrying children in our bellies and then into their rooms after a tantrum.

But there was a time when I would have complained to my husband about the woman at the shop that said I was ready to drop. Or whined to my mum about the other mums that raised an eyebrow when I told them I let my son cry himself to sleep.  I too have probably made comments to other pregnant women or mothers, without thinking about how that could have come across judgmental or unsupportive.

It’s a beautiful thing

Now, surrounded by new mums in our tiny town, I’m taking the opportunity to remind myself to be more mindful. Just remember all of those painful questions we gave ourselves anxiety over during that first pregnancy.

So here are a couple of comments I’ve received or overheard during this, my third pregnancy, which I realise I would have been offended or frustrated about during my first:

1. “Was it planned” – Now this question/comment, in my experience comes mostly from curiosity and not with the intent to offend. However, generally speaking, the opposite of “planned” in this scenario, is usually “mistake” or “accident”. Therefore, if you are not already fully aware that your friend or maybe acquaintance have been trying for a baby, than this question can feel intrusive and offensive because of the negative connotations that come with saying, ‘no, this was not “planned”.’

2. “Should you be eating that?” A first time pregnant woman has googled her food options more that a teenage boy googles boobs.

She can make her own choices.

The last thing she needs is another person, especially a fellow female, second-guessing her choices or passing judgment, to her face.

3. “Breast is best” – We hear this from friends, relatives, strangers and then our own midwives. The day my son came into this world, it felt like I was having breasts stuffed down my own throat as much as he was. But that wasn’t what was best for my baby. It turns out that fed is best because babies need food to survive, and starving your baby will also not prevent you from receiving further judgment from others.

Let’s not force-feed our new mums the pressure of breastfeeding; it’s not always as simple as you put the nipple in the mouth and baby drinks. Breast-feeding is work; it’s most often a learned skill, not a natural ability. Promote fed is best, and let your new mummy friend find her own way without comparisons.

Baby Hazel – Our beast feeding journey was short. not so sweet (except for this pic)

The list could go on and on, and I know so many of you have probably had some humdingers in your time. So just remember that as good as we are at putting on a brave face, there are many soon-to-be-mums (or any mums for that matter) that are saving their tears for a quiet moment in the car or shower. They are being bombarded with new hormones that are making comments like, ‘you look like you swallowed a bowling ball’, feel like someone just punched them in the face.

Hormones are mean, but sometimes, without thinking, we are too.

The need for a village does not start when the baby is born. The village starts before conception and the need for it never goes away. So let’s bring back a little old-school etiquette, and treat our pregnant ladies like the queens they are. Let’s show them a good time before they are thrust into a world of snot, spew and screams (whoops).

Starting now.

T x

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