Let’s set the scene: a cold, Sunday night in February.
The Rihanna concert, where a football game just happened to be played, was on everyone’s television. Rih comes out with her dope red jumpsuit and social media blows up! “Is that a baby bump, I see?” or “Is she pregnant?” was on everyone’s timeline. Another great example, after a whirlwind of a season, we finally got to watch the Love is Blind Reunion! While the reunion was interesting, what I and many others found to be the most brow furrowing was the number of times the cast were asked about babies and expecting. Why was that alarming one may ask? As a newly pregnant person it might feel great to be asked if you’re pregnant. Someone is acknowledging the baby you’ve been so cautiously growing. You’re growing human life for Christ’s sake! However, if that is not the case it can be triggering and problematic. You may wonder why, here a few things to consider and their mental health implications:
According to the Mayo Clinic (2019), “10 to 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage.” Miscarriages are more common than many think. Miscarriages are considered a traumatic event. They can often lead to anxiety, depression, grief and/or PTSD. These mental health implications can last for years and are resolved after the birth of a healthy baby. According to Nynas, Kolikonda, and Lippmann (2015), “Contributing to the distress experienced after miscarriage is the fact that society may not recognize the significance of the loss to the parents. Traditionally when a death occurs, families are able to openly mourn their loss and receive support for many months. However, in miscarriage, the loss is sudden and often unexpected, and women may not have shared the fact that they were pregnant, leaving them to grieve alone, socially isolated.”
Infertility, which is characterized as being unable to get pregnant after one year of trying, is another common struggle people face. One in five people struggle with infertility. Many people want nothing more than to be a parent and coming to terms with the fact that they cannot conceive, carry a child to term, or must have someone else carry their child can be difficult. Infertility can increase anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, helplessness, and exacerbate relational problems. If one is considering other avenues such as In vitro Fertilization (IVF), it can come with its own set of emotional struggles. Many people who undergo IVF develop the feeling that they are a fraud, increased isolation from not sharing their experience, or take the chance it may not be successful.
Pregnancy is often very gender focused. From gender reveals down to the colors of clothing. People of all gender identities have the desire to be parents one day, however it can be a challenging experience. Some things that impede on their journeys are lack of gender affirming care, discrimination, and unacceptance. Pregnancy can further exacerbate Gender Dysphoria, which is a mental health disorder that causes discomfort or stress due to the mismatch of one’s sex at birth vs. gender identity. Being asked if you’re pregnant while just trying to get the world to see you can be exhausting to say the least.
Every body and everybody is different.
Our bodies all grow and function differently. As a curvy woman, I’ve often struggled with my weight throughout my entire life. I’m sure most of us have at one point or another. Certain medical conditions such as ovarian cancer/cysts, False Pregnancy (Pseudocyesis), or thyroid disorders to name a few may alter one’s outer appearance to resemble pregnancy. Speaking of everybody being different, I know this may shake the table for some of our family members because familial pressure is real, but some people do not desire to have children. Being asked about childbearing or pregnancy when you don’t want children leads to an awkward exchange where one might feel they have to justify it. When in all honesty they shouldn’t have to because It’s not our business.
There is so much more to discuss on why asking someone if they are expecting is problematic and this merely scratches the surface but in closing, if someone wants you to know their pregnant, they will tell you.