After a few too many questions about her plans for feeding her unborn child, Cameran Eubanks, former cast member of The Real World who now stars in Southern Charm on Bravo, has finally had enough. According to a video she posted to her Instagram in September, she has received countless private messages from her fans asking the same question—will she be breastfeeding her unborn child? And, after growing tired of fielding the same questions over and over again, she posted the video on her feed telling her followers off for being so darn nosy.
“Y’all are ’bout to drive me to drink. If I get one more message asking me if I plan on breastfeeding my child, I am going to delete my Instagram forever,” she jokes on the video. She went on to say what basically every woman who has ever been pregnant has wanted to scream at some point in their pregnancy: “It’s none of your dang business.” Having been pregnant three times myself, I couldn’t agree more. I’m plenty familiar with the weird phenomena that occurs once your belly starts to show. Suddenly, everyone you encounter believes they have a right to say anything they would like about your pregnancy. The woman in the row behind me looked at me in disgust and said, in the same amount of disgust, ‘Oh, you’re a breeder.’ Enough is enough. I don’t care if you’ve given birth before or if you’re just some guy on the street, moms-to-be don’t want to hear what you think about their pregnancy. So, here are some of the worst things you can say and do around pregnant moms, straight from the mothers themselves…
Policing Their Family Size
Most of the moms-of-many I talked to had gotten this comment at some point in their motherly lives: “You know how that happens, right?” “I hate that one!” says Tracy St. Clair, a mom of two who is expecting her third child. “It’s as if no one would [have] multiple children on purpose.” And, Rhonda Cherrito, a mom of four grown children, couldn’t agree more. She says that as a young mom, there was nothing more offensive to her than having friends and strangers comment on the size of her family. “I was on a plane once getting my three kids settled. I was also noticeably pregnant with my fourth. The woman in the row behind me looked at me in disgust and said, in the same amount of disgust, ‘Oh, you’re a breeder,’” recalls Lynn. If you don’t plan to have children, or multiple children, that’s totally your choice. But just as you are entitled to refrain from having kids, a woman who decides she wants two, three, or seven children is entitled to that choice without your input.
Policing Their Decisions
During my first pregnancy, I was shocked by how often complete strangers tried to police my decisions about what I did and ate during my pregnancy. There is nothing quite as humiliating as being made to feel like you don’t have the common sense necessary for taking care of yourself and your unborn child. For instance, I once had a complete stranger grab me by the shoulder at my workplace to try to stop me from drinking coffee, since I was obviously pregnant. I’ve also argued with a complete stranger in the grocery store parking lot about whether or not I could load a small item into my car. And I’m definitely not alone. “I regularly taught a step class when I was pregnant with my third,” says Jennifer Stapley Lynn, mother of four, “and I had a woman bring me a huge Mayo Clinic book about pregnancy, and she worriedly told me that I shouldn’t be working out because I sweat too much. I had to tell her that my doctor was perfectly OK with [me teaching the step class].” Here’s the thing: nobody knows a pregnant woman’s body better than she does. Ultimately, it is between the woman and her doctor what she eats and what kind of activities she engages in while she’s expecting.
Policing Their Emotions
While we’re on the topic of controlling women, let’s clarify right here and now that it is never right to tell a woman how she should feel about anything in her life, especially her pregnancy. Between morning sickness in the first trimester and the discomfort that comes during the last few months, pregnancy is hard work. Feeling a certain way about the difficulties that come with pregnancy isn’t right or wrong, it’s just a part of the process. Women should never be shamed for the way they experience this season of their life. This is especially difficult if you struggled to get pregnant in the first place or experienced pregnancy loss, says mom Jessica Stanton, who was told she shouldn’t complain about her pregnancy symptoms since she was lucky to be pregnant. Bonnie Hatley Oesch, mom of three, couldn’t agree more. “I had hyperemesis during all of my pregnancies, but we also struggled to get pregnant,” she says. “Some people made me feel like I had no right to complain about constantly being sick since we had wanted to get pregnant.”
Jumping to Conclusions
In the same vein, it is best to avoid jumping to conclusions about how a woman feels about her pregnancy. It doesn’t bother me as much as [it reminds] me what not to say to other people. This is incredibly common when it comes to talking about a new baby’s gender. In my experience, people assume that women want “one of each” and aren’t afraid to bring it up. When we found out our third was a boy after two girls, I was so uncomfortable with the number of people who would ask if we were “so happy” or “so relieved” he wasn’t another girl.
“When people see us in public with our three girls, they say, ‘Your poor husband!’” shares Andrea Gee, who is expecting her fourth child. Kendra Moberly, mom of three girls, said getting the comment from strangers has taught her to think twice before commenting on the gender of an unborn child. “When I was pregnant with my third, also a girl, strangers would say ‘Hope that’s a boy this time!’ It doesn’t bother me as much as [it reminds] me what not to say to other people,” she explains.
Pregnant women are already sharing their bodies with another human being. The last thing they need is people touching them without permission. Unfortunately, many people seem to believe that when a woman is pregnant, it is suddenly OK to touch her without so much as a warning. “I’ve literally been pinched in the cheeks and told I look ‘so cute chubby’ by a woman while I was at work,” shares Calissa Elizabeth, mom of three. We get it. You think pregnant women are cute and so are their growing bellies, but women don’t lose their body autonomy the second they conceive. We still have control over who touches us and when, so please keep your hands to yourself.
Telling Horror Stories
New moms have enough to worry about on their own, don’t make it worse but sharing about your neighbor’s daughter’s awful birth. A few weeks after I learned I was expecting my first child, I attended a family holiday get-together, and family member after family member congratulated me on my pregnancy and then proceeded to tell me a horror story about their pregnancy, labor, or early days as a mom. Not knowing what to say, my anxiety was rising with each story about emergency c-sections and NICU stays. “I hate when women tell horrifying birth stories to a pregnant woman. Like, really, you don’t think she’s terrified enough? I always try to tell moms-to-be the good stuff about birth. If she asks for details, that’s different. But just scaring her out of the starting gate is not cool,” says Jeanne Eschenberg Sager, mom of one.
Watching Their Weights
Last, but definitely not least, keep your concerns about a pregnant woman’s weight to yourself. Every woman experiences pregnancy differently: some don’t gain much, some gain a lot, and the same amount of weight gained on one body can look different on the next. Either way, how much a woman gains during her pregnancy is really no one’s business but her’s and her doctor’s. I showed really early, and people kept acting like it was something to talk about, which doesn’t help when you’re dealing with a changing body. “People, in-laws including, would ask if I was carrying two. I wasn’t. That was known. I had a serious condition where I had extra fluid, so I was totally huge in a multiple-baby sort of way,” shares Jed Halla, mom of two. “… that extra fluid caused lots of concerns—it increases the chance of stillbirth, the cord floating and wrapping itself around the neck, the baby [having] more room to move from his head down position, and a bunch more of bad possibilities.”
“I hated hearing it so much more than the first [pregnancy], when I was normal and didn’t have that,” she continues. “I was batting away fears already, and then for people to joke about it just hurt and made me so mad.” Here’s the thing: when you make comments about a pregnant woman’s weight, you forget that every woman’s pregnancy is different. You could be commenting on a sensitive subject, for instance, if the mom-to-be is dealing with a unique medical condition. Plus, it isn’t your business or place to comment on how a woman’s body looks, anyway. “I’m currently pregnant and feel that [comments about] your belly size or how far along you are is never helpful,” says Brooke Lamb, who is expecting her first child. “I showed really early, and people kept acting like it was something to talk about, which doesn’t help when you’re dealing with a changing body.”