Recent research has revealed that mothers who drink when pregnant put their children at risk of future academic difficulties. Some may consider this to be a no brainer, whilst others take a very different view. The subject of whether or not it is ok to drink alcohol whilst pregnant, always provokes hot debate. There are very few mums and dads who haven’t given some thought to the issue, whether when pregnant themselves, or when spying a pregnant woman on licensed premises. Whatever your view on the topic, is it appropriate to make unsolicited comment on another woman’s pregnancy?
When I was pregnant with my last child, and we were out for the evening, I often asked for my tonic water to be served in a wine glass, just because I missed the feel and the look of those long stemmed beauties, and it made me feel like I was doing something more exciting than just drinking fizzy water. On several occasions, I was given funny looks by other drinkers, who eyed first my belly, then my glass, and then my face. The looks they gave ranged from shock to horror and disgust, and from time to time, people even muttered and pointed, as if I couldn’t see. I thought I was imagining it at first, but even my husband noticed, so it must have been real.
Once, on a summers evening whilst I was heavily pregnant, I was sitting outside a pub with a group of girlfriends, minding my own business and giggling a lot. I was knocking back the mineral waters that night, and had picked, as my receptacle of choice, a cocktail glass for a touch of glamour. It wasn’t long before a kindly old lady tapped me on the shoulder and asked me please to consider what I was doing to my poor foetus, by hanging around public houses, getting drunk. I am made of pretty strong stuff, so I simply told her I wasn’t interested in speaking to her, turned away, and carried on with my conversation. I couldn’t help but wonder how that exchange might have been received by a first time mum, or by someone who wasn’t as ballsy as me. Then I thought about how the scene might have looked if I had been smashed – I might have head butted the old dear, and she’d probably wouldn’t do that again in a hurry.
Approaching someone in the street to touch their tummy, or to ask whether they intend to have a natural birth is a bizarre thing to do, but it is by no means uncommon. My friends and I have been astounded by the audacity of strangers, and we all have stories to tell. Does being pregnant make you public property? Is your birthing plan really anyone else’s business, and should you really have to debate your child rearing choices with strangers at bus stops? Apparently you do.
Once when I was pregnant, the guy behind the counter at the patrol station asked me if I was planning to breastfeed. He was in his late teens, and had spots. He then went on to confide in me that his sister had breastfed, and now has no boobs. Blimey! I only popped out for Doritos! For some reason, pregnant women’s bodies are considered fair game, available not only for prodding and poking (particularly by pensioners in supermarkets) but also for some of the most thoughtless comments and vile criticism. I cannot tell you why this might be the case, only that it happens alarmingly often, and I wish it didn’t. Expectant mothers have plenty to cope with already, so just a smile would do nicely.
Abi Gold recently launched Juggle Family and Parenting Consultancy, which offers counselling and support for busy mums and dads, by Skype and by phone. Abi is a real life mum of 4, a Family Therapist, Counsellor and Family Mediator, who specialises in perinatal mental health and families with young children. Abi knows exactly how tough it can be to juggle all the things that busy mums and dads do, and has some great techniques for survival! Look Abi up at www.familyjuggle.com.au or give her a call on 03 9028 5955