The sight of a pregnant woman causes some people to lose their manners, and others to lose their minds.
It's bizarre. People who are usually polite and normal suddenly feel within their rights to make comments that would never be acceptable to make about a non-pregnant person-- questions and comments about birth plans, intimate medical information, weight gain, what a mother plans on doing with her breasts after giving birth. (A tip: if you were not close enough with a pregnant person to comment on her breasts or vagina before she was pregnant, you are not close enough to bring them up as a topic of discussion when she is. Don't ask about it unless she brings it up first.)
I've wondered what was behind this, and the best I can come up with is that pregnancy is an obvious external manifestation of an intimate and personal set of decisions. Maybe the subconscious justification for asking a coworker or casual acquaintance about vaginal birth, or prattling on for several minutes about a birth horror story that happened to a friend of a friend, is that because some aspects of a pregnancy are visibly evident, an unthoughtful person might conclude that all aspects of a pregnancy can therefore be matters of public discussion.
But I'm being generous here. There's no excuse for how rampant pregnancy-related rudeness and weirdness is across so many segments of the population that should know better. But it doesn't look like any of that is going to change in the near future. So let's laugh about it.
I'd heard scattered ridiculous stories of pregnancy-related rudeness from friends, but I was curious about the creepiness and rudeness people outside my circle had experienced during their pregnancies. So, I asked people who follow me on Twitter and Instagram what they'd experienced. What follows is only a fraction of what I heard back.
Fellow pregnant people and people with kids, hope this is cathartic. For people who aren't in either category, read these, enjoy the group cringe, and please: don't be these people. (Some responses lightly edited for grammar and clarity.)
My neighbor got down on her knees in the street and European kissed my stomach. I was only 16 weeks so to say it was awkward...
I was a practicing dentist at the time (since retired) and some random patient of mine walked up to me and literally fondled my belly, I had only seen him once at that point.
Random person walking down the street just walked up and grabbed my bump. She said 'I’m just so excited for you. I had to see if I could feel a kick.' And then she kept walking.
Being in Las Vegas and having total strangers try to rub my belly 'for luck'.
My friend's grandma rubbed and kissed my belly. We had just met.
A neighbor I had never met ran across the street, screamed when she found out I was expecting, dropped to her knees on the pavement and double cheek kissed my stomach. I was only 16 weeks.
A woman touched my belly and said 'I bet you got pregnant on the first try, didn't you?'
A teenager (ish? Unclear.) followed me around Target when I was days away from giving birth. He said hello then asked if he could feel the baby kick because he likes feeling babies kick.
Man in his 70's at a farmer's market 'You're going to breastfeed right?'
Male OB making gross comments about how big my boobs were getting.
A male coworker who I had never spoken to before approached me and talked to me at length about breastfeeding.
'Ooh will you be giving her mommy milk?' From my male boss.
A lot of comments about my boobs being huge. Like, daily. From coworkers."
The day after we called her, my mother-in-law texted me to ask how long we'd been trying.
Mother-in-law wanted to pray for the baby. Went to touch my belly. Got my boob instead. Didn't move her hand.
Father-in-law asked me if I was doing Kegels to prepare. Get out of my vag, dude.
Father-in-law asking to take photos of/with me or to "stand up" on zoom.
I was referred to as 'the mother of my future grandson' multiple times.
My father-in-law went for an underhand belly touch instead of the traditional overhand touch.
My mother-in-law saw me being uncomfortable when I was 34 weeks and said "Oh I wish I could just reach in and take out my grandchild and comfort her."
Exclaiming that I look READY starting around 30 weeks.
Someone asked me if I was having twins in my 8th month. When I told them that I was having one, they told me I was wrong.
"Only 32 weeks? You look like you could deliver today!"
Stranger asked when my twins were due (when I was only having a singlet). I just lied and said three more weeks. I was so, so tired.
Hours after birth, multiple nurses separately said that my butthole looked beautiful.
My ultrasound tech told me that a girl would "steal my beauty."
Obstetrician deeply annoyed I was in labor on Thanksgiving, was the pain "really that bad yet"? Said she was "trying to have a family dinner," came back minutes before I delivered at 9 pm. Was still annoyed with me.
My doctor asked if my husband had been "walking me." Yes, like a dog.
We were in the delivery room and our doctor, anesthesiologist, pediatrician and nurses all left across the hallway to a lounge where they were watching the national team in a World Cup game. I had go get them as our daughter was close to being born.
My OB-GYN loudly told everyone in the delivery room to admire my scar tissue during labor (I’d had an episiotomy from hell my last pregnancy).
I was 18 hours into active, unmedicated back labor with my first and about to get a spinal before a C-section. Bent over and needing to stay 100% still, a nurse asked me, "Did you try to labor at all or did you just ask for the C?"
Male OB immediately prior to delivery: you have a great pelvis.
When I was in labor, the intake nurse doubted whether I was in labor, doubted that my water had broken, and then grimaced, saying she was "so sorry about all my stretch marks."
My labor nurses watched BOBSLEDDING between pushes.
After I had a panic attack during the C-section, the psychologist came to check me out for PPD, but when she left she gave all the paperwork to my husband like it was the 1950's.
I had an OB tell me to look him in the eye when he was talking to me- DURING HARD LABOR.
My gyno told me "she's perfectly pink and healthy" at a checkup. Not talking about my baby.
My boss sat down at my desk and earnestly told me he hoped I would go into labor early and thus not have my planned C-section because babies need to be exposed to “maternal vaginal flora” otherwise they get autism.
During my third trimester, a male coworker constantly asked if I was dilated yet.
My boss told me not to have sex too close to my due date so I wouldn't go on leave early.
My boss introduced me to a stranger by saying I was recently impregnated.
I worked in publishing and in my ninth month a coworker mentioned multiple times that I shouldn’t worry about going into labor in the office because he had worked on a book about childbirth.
At work, full table of employees, a man asked me whether I was planning to have the baby vaginally.
Upper manager at my company looked at my outfit when I was nine months and said "Women can get away with wearing ANYTHING in an office!" Excuse me, sir! Stretchy pants are all that fit!
Taught at an all-Catholic school; the priest used me in an all school homily comparing me to Mary.
Coworker checked on me if I took too long in the bathroom to make sure I didn't toilet-birth.
I was slim prior to pregnancy but when I was about eight months and huge, my boss randomly said to a coworker “My wife gained 50 lbs when she was pregnant…she had to work really hard to lose it,” then raised his eyebrows and looked me up and down with a slight sneer.
"You don't have to give birth lying on your back, you know" - male coworker.
Was told by my organization's CFO that other people planned their pregnancy for a better time.
I was postpartum, on maternity leave and one of my employees asked how my vacation was going.
Grocery checker said she weaned at six weeks and her tits violently sprayed milk when she showered for weeks.
A woman told me her clitoris "tore in half" during her own labor.
"Aren't you worried about Down Syndrome since you're having a baby so late in life?"
I was standing at the lights, waiting to cross, when a gross guy in a car, rolled down his window and creepily said, "I know what you've been doing."
When I was eight months pregnant, a random woman on a subway manically offered to take my baby, raise it as her own. Her energy bubbled up, she started moving across the train towards me- a bystander stepped between us and she bailed as soon as the train doors opened.
Told me they were going to pray to change my child's gender in the womb to "fix" it. I'd never met them before.
How about us adoptive parents? “What do you know about his real mother?” As though I’m the fake mother.
"Are you going to get vaginal rejuvenation afterward?" - asked by a male friend of my husband.
We intentionally decided to have our first while finishing grad school because school-offered insurance added maternity benefits. More people than I can count said something along the lines of “going through with the oops?” My middle finger got a workout that semester
Toward the end of my first pregnancy & afterward during my post-pregnancy check-ups my midwife told me my body handled the experience so well that I must “be of good stock” and because of that she wanted to see me back in a year with a second pregnancy… STOCK?! Like cattle?!
From my mom: people from my dad's LDS church came to bless her belly and told her she'd end up on a different level of heaven from her husband and child because she was Baptist.
When I was 32 weeks along, a stranger on the street pointed at my bump and started ticking like a time bomb. I just wanted some Italian ice.
A man outside a PF Chang’s asked me if he needed to go get a baseball mitt to catch the baby.
Had a woman tell me at 7 months pregnant that because my daughter was going to be a Libra and I am a Taurus that we were going to hate each other!
Some old white man backed into my parked car, but it was my fault because I was a whore for being (very) pregnant & unmarried. I was married, I just couldn’t wear my rings because my hands (& everything else) were too swollen. The police took my side.
Told me how irresponsible it is to do home birth. Unsolicited.
I heard a man tell a pregnant woman how much sexier her belly would look with overalls.
Other mom strangers thought it was appropriate to launch into uninvited and ghastly descriptions of the things that went wrong during their own pregnancies or labor.
A client told me today that she (her vagina) wasn't big enough for a natural birth.
As a retail worker, a disgruntled customer threatened to come around the counter and kick me in my stomach when I was seven months pregnant. More traumatizing than creepy. I did not go back after maternity leave.
"I bet you and your husband were at it like jackrabbits."
Week past due date, walking/waddling in hopes of getting things going, lady runs out of her house because she thought I was stealing her pumpkin under my shirt! Still call my kiddo pumpkin...
A supposed family friend, an older lady, saw that I was showing and asked my due date. When I told her she loudly exclaimed, "That can't be right. She's already huge!" in a room full of people. I am short and gained only 15 lbs due to morning sickness that lasted the whole time.
My OB/GYN told me WHILE pregnant that maybe my daily exercise should start by pushing away from the dinner table. He was a class act.
I was grocery shopping around 8 or 9 months along and some guy told me I was the most pregnant person he had ever seen. I just wanted some Sun Chips, but okay.
A special f*k off to the stranger who asked me how much weight I had gained so far (I was so taken aback I may have actually answered honestly) and then told me how little weight she had gained in her pregnancy.
I’m a pretty small person & I looked like a snake who ate a watermelon when I was preggers. I got on an elevator with a mom and an eight-year old kid. Kid stared at my belly like it might bite him. Mom grabbed him by the arm and said, “Look away, honey. That’s not normal!” Gee. Thanks…
I know lots of women have issues with people saying how fat they are, but as a non-skinny pre-pregnancy woman I have HAD IT with people telling me I don’t look pregnant at 30+ weeks. “Not only do you look bad now but you’ve always looked terrible!” is implied.
"Wow, your kids are going to be too close together. You're going to cry and cry."
Once I was volunteering at a summer day camp. It was lunchtime and they were serving hot dogs. I don’t love hot dogs, but I was starving. I got in the lunch line and some lady said, “you aren’t going to feed that baby a hot dog, are you?” She brought me stale popcorn instead
To me, with a transverse baby: “50 years ago you and the baby would just be dead and that would be the end of it!”
I was drinking a Diet Coke and a salesperson (woman) asked me if my doctor had approved the consumption of said beverage.
After telling another woman colleague I had morning sickness after she asked how I was doing, she looked at me with pity and said, “Well I had healthy pregnancies.” Morning sickness is normal!
Was going to work in the AM carrying a decaf coffee and was loudly lectured to by a man who appeared to be quite intoxicated that drinking coffee was a crime against my baby.
A neighbor of mine told me that if he could do it again he would never have had his kids. While I was pregnant. I truly hadn't asked.
This is more odd than creepy or rude: my friend told me my baby wouldn’t be psychic if I had an epidural.
Eight months pregnant with twins, huge, exhausted, on a break from work, I walked to a Starbucks. In line a police officer said to me, “you know, caffeine is bad for babies.”
Pregnant on an airplane, came out of bathroom when the seatbelt sign was on. Flight attendant told me to sit, of course complied but made a lighthearted comment about having to pee constantly being pregnant. Told me to sit so I stay pregnant. I’ve had four miscarriages.
I had a gender reveal (I know, it was a new trend sorry) and one of best friends (at the time) told me to not dress my son in pink because he’ll turn gay.
Man screamed at me for ordering a Diet Coke. I told him to go fuck himself.
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