You won't find the definition of ‘pregnant shaming’ in any dictionary. It is a phenomenon that almost every pregnant woman has to live through during her pregnancy.
While labour pains may not hurt so much, the mockery, unsolicited advice, and body shaming definitely hurt. What adds fuel to the fire is that many women are also guilty of pregnant shaming other women. This can be anyone from a mother, mother-in-law, sister, household help, or employer.
Women are pregnant shamed with gestures and discriminatory treatments, as if being pregnant is a crime. Pregnant women often hear words like ‘you are too big’, ‘you’re expanding like a balloon,’ or ‘your pregnancy is going so easy so you aren’t pregnant enough’. Many often end up losing their jobs too because no company wants to invest in a pregnant lady. Also, staying fit and working out during pregnancy isn't an option for many women as people look down upon them for taking their pregnancy too casually instead of sitting at home, eating, and relaxing.
We have collated a few points on how to deal with pregnant shaming and the toxicity surrounding it:
Make a note
If you feel like you are a victim of pregnancy-related discrimination at work, start taking notes. Document the date and time of the incident, if possible. Documentation helps you put forth your points with much ease when discussing the issues with someone superior face-to-face. You can then also follow up with emails or share minutes of the meeting so that your concern doesn't go unanswered. Voicing your opinion is imperative as a woman, especially when you are pregnant. Don't hesitate and request for reasons in writing if you are terminated or not offered a job due to your pregnancy.
Shut down haters
There are always people who feel the need to advise you. While some do it genuinely out of concern, others just feel the need to make unsolicited comments. Pregnancy is already an overwhelming process and the last thing you need is unsupportive people. It's a shame that some of them may come from your family as well. You can always choose to shut them down by saying things like, “My doctor has already told me,” “I agree, you are right” and other phrases to show them that they're not sharing anything helpful. Don't get stressed; just smile, nod, grab a tub of ice cream and walk away.
You don't need to follow trends
Pregnancy is a very emotional journey of a woman’s life and each one has a different perspective towards it. While some like going out, wearing body-hugging dresses, and flaunting their baby bumps, others are more reserved. In any case, don't let people force you to follow certain trends. For instance, you don't have to put up pictures of your pregnancy transformation or allow others to touch your bump if you’re not comfortable. Keep something in front of you so others know that you don't want them to invade your privacy.
Don’t hesitate to file a complaint
If you feel the danger of getting terminated from your job or you’ve been denied a certain position or promotion, then don't hesitate to raise a complaint, hit the court, or seek help from human rights or women welfare association. Complaints regarding pregnancy shaming are usually not entertained in companies, and in such cases, you can consider lodging complaints within a certain time limit. Also, beware that your superiors don't sweet talk you into signing your termination papers or demote you to a part-time or casual worker.
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)