When I was pregnant with Rox, there were occasions where I felt like my body was not my own, both biologically but more importantly, publically.
It was astounding to me how completely my body became all about concentrating on growing a new human; to a large extent and very quickly, I had no control over what it did when, how it functioned, and when I felt good. Added to that, I had more midwife appointments, monthly scans, and various examinations than the norm to check on me and baby, and an induced labour due to the gestational diabetes I developed from week 17. These appointments were often invasive and 'faffy', again, out of my control.
This, to be honest, was all just par for the course, 100% needing to be done for the health of my baby and me. I was fine with that, Drs, get involved if you need to. When my body felt like it became fair game or visual/tactile/gossipy property of non-medical people I'd come across, that's when I took a bit of an issue.
As Lindsay Hunter says, "pregnant women are on display. Suddenly, you are someone different. Something different. There’s a strange, infantilizing obsession that others get with a pregnant woman’s shape, her “bump.” This totally resonates with me. Three main occasions stick in my mind in particular of when people seemed to think they could do what they liked, say or ask what they wanted, or get involved in my pregnancy like it was their obsession and right...
1) A colleague I know a little - wouldn't call her even as much as a friend - asked me point blank over the tea point at work if I was constipated. Personal, much! I responded passive aggressively by filling her in COMPLETELY, leaving out no detail. Maybe she'll think twice before enquiring next time. Of all the side effects to ask about. Really.
2) A stranger (to me, but a neighbour of my mother in law) I came across in the supermarket while helping my MIL shop felt she could try for a connection with the baby (kicks, I assume) by caressing my belly in the queue for the tills. Uninvited was not the word!!
3) Finally, postpartum, another stranger (friend of a friend that said friend and I bumped into while out for coffee) asked me last week - and this is a direct quote - "How's your fanny??" I shit you not. What a question! I'd be unlikely to ask even my closest frinds that, or is it just me??? And, ick, I hate that F word!
Now, if you've read any of my well-being themed blogs before, you know I don't have a problem sharing; I believe in normalising natural things (e.g. breastfeeding) and talking about important subjects, like mental health. Pregnancy is no exception. There's a lot of ignorance and some stigma around gestational diabetes in particular, and I am happy to share my experience, tips and to help people understand. However, there are some things you just do not do or ask someone you don't know well!
Your body is no one's business but your own, so don't feel like you need to grace inappropriate questions and comments with a reply ... or perhaps have a good answer ready to ping back at them. The same goes for invasive touching. If you're not comfortable with people touching your belly, tell them. I had a language barrier in my case, but I still could have removed the woman's hands from my tummy - that would have needed no translation!
Just because you're having a baby it doesn't make you fair game for public involvement and prying into your health and bodily experiences. Respect and consideration should still be applied. And ladies, remember you're in control here, where as in a lot of the 'joy' of pregnancy you may feel you're not. I certainly didn't - my body was at the mercy of hormones from the diabetes to late-stage emotional outbursts, and I couldn't do anything about it.
If you need yet another reason to be positive about your changing body and to feel like it's YOU who owns it, not any random passer by, take a look at this (American) quick read on how your body image perception can have lasting well-being effects on you and your child. Food for thought.
And FYI, my 'fanny' is fine. Thanks for your kind concern.
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Born to be a Tourist