One of the greatest joys of being pregnant is knowing that you are going to have a child to take care of and raise soon. However, this is also one of the scariest and most surreal things about being pregnant. As soon as a woman becomes pregnant she is already starting to make important decisions about her child's life and this is when other peoples opinions become a lot more then just other peoples opinions. You can help feeling a little judged because after all it's now very very personal.
I actually had a women say how cool and normal her pregnant friend was for having a glass of wine at a party. This was stated directly after I turned down an offer of wine. Sorry am I supposed to drink while pregnant because you think it makes a pregnant women seem cooler and more relaxed. I realize that in Europe and some other countries drinking a small amount is considered safe during pregnancy but why should that matter to me. This is my decision and no ones concern but mine, my husband and our doctor. Some people think that women need to be extremely careful about what they put in their bodies during pregnancy; while others think that women are too uptight these days and it would healthier to be more relaxed and balanced in their approach to eating and drinking. My only point is that it increasingly clear that one way or the other everyone has got something to say on the matter.
It seems to be that people have got very serious opinions about child rearing right from conception. I have noticed that when people ask me if I have a doctor or a midwife, some people raise their eyebrows a little too high when I reply that I have an OB. It seems that it is very 'in' to have a midwife these days especially in Vancouver where I live. People are also very interested to hear if I have a doula or not; something I never heard of before a friend in Toronto became one. People might not out and out tell me I'm making the wrong choice but through looks and pauses their opinions are subtly or not so subtly relayed to me.
Friends, family and strangers have also expressed their varying opinions about natural births v. cesareans and the use of drugs during delivery. I have a pretty clear idea of how I'd like things to go down on the magical day in question; however I am also very aware that things change and that you have to be somewhat open to last minute changes in birth plans when for example the baby is in distress. It is interesting to hear how passionately people will state what is the right way or the wrong way to give birth, even if they have never done it.
The same goes for breastfeeding. This is an extremely controversial topic that brings out passion, rage as well as guilt and sadness. The standard is that breast milk is the best for the baby so if you as a women are unable to or choose not to breastfeed does that make you a bad parent? As a teacher I've seen some things that make people bad parents and I wouldn't personally group not breastfeeding into that category. I would love to be able to breastfeed and probably this, more then labor stresses me out because it is possible that it won't work out and when I think of how personally disappointing that would be, complied of course with the new mothers guilt of "I've let down my baby", then to add to that the knowledge that friends and family may be judging me...it's almost too much to take.
I guess this is just something I have to get used to. Now that I am pregnant, my body and choices are not just about me. I felt this responsibility right from the start and I have tried to educate myself about prenatal care and have done the best I can to make decisions I feel good about. It can be hard knowing that the people you love and even the strangers who don't know you, now suddenly because you are pregnant feel entitled to judge your life and choices.
Can't wait to get into all the judgement involved in the actual raising of a child, I'm sure no one has an opinion about that right...? All I have to do is look to facebook and a post about who's last name a child should receive to know that when it comes to children, passion and opinions run high in our society and judgment right or wrong runs deep.