The Publicness of Pregnancy

We’ve all learned by adulthood not to ask a woman if she’s pregnant.  If you’re wrong…. you’re in trouble.

However, the reality is, pregnancy is a very public experience.   Some of this is wonderful, in the third trimester, feeling tired, people open doors for you, carry things for you, make space for you, let you skip ahead waiting for a bathroom.  

A lot of it can be awkward: total strangers asking about your body, your baby, your due date, your plans, sometimes even asking to touch your belly.   No, you cannot touch my belly.  What may be even more awkward than total strangers doing these things is co-workers, colleagues, teachers, students and other acquaintances in your life.  The existing relationship ads pressure for you to be more agreeable, though you really not want the person down the hall rubbing your belly.

The publicity of pregnancy is rarely talked about but affects most pregnant women.  In the office, nearly every pregnant patient asks at some point “am I too big?  Everyone says I look full term!”   or “is my baby big enough?  Everyone at work insists I’m too small!”.    My general answer: “pregnancy is very public and well-meaning acquaintances often feel the need to say something.  Please tell them your doctor says you’re perfect.”

Another common set of questions we get in our area are about lists of food and if they’re safe.  Every culture has a food (or several) that you can’t eat in pregnancy, so when you have a diverse area with multiple cultures sharing work and social spaces, women are given an abundance of advice on things they can’t eat.   Women end up with advice to avoid nearly every available type of fruit.   (An example of a ridiculous list here).  The most interesting situations are when a friend with ties to one country insists you must avoid dates while a friend with ties from another country insists they are extremely important for a healthy pregnancy.

 My sincere advice is to just say “thank you for your advice.”   Try your best to let the comments roll off your back.  Anything that seems to bother you, raise with your OB/GYN.   If you can master the graceful acceptance of unsolicited advice that you have no intention of following, you’ll have a great head start for the next phase: the publicness of parenting a young child!



El Camino Women’s Medical Group offers the latest Minimally Invasive Solutions for gynecologic problems.   Drs. Amy TengErika Balassiano, and Pooja Gupta, all members of AAGL (American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy) are highly trained and experienced in the field of Minimally Invasive Gynecgologic Surgery.   Dr. Erika Balassiano is also completed a Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery Fellowship, under the supervision of world-renowned Dr. Camran Nezhat.


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