Mommy (to be) rage: Hands off pregnant ladies

June 25th, 2010  |  Published in Pregnancy and postpartum, Stumpblog  |  26 Comments

I think it’s Pregnancy Week at the Stumpblog.

I remember my younger sister telling me how creepy it was when total strangers would grab her belly in stores etc. when she was pregnant. Now regular site reader, world traveller, and cheese/chocolate aficionado, Lieke updates me on the “enjoyment” of having her body on public display. From the WTF? files…

Have you experienced similar bullshit? What’s up with this? Let’s hear your comments!

I’m 6 months pregnant and already a crappy mommy. How’s that for a new record?

I’ve just turned 40. I’m pregnant because I wanted to be, thankfully without any external assistance (apart from the one you might expect), and in damn record time too. I’m healthy and active, I try to work out 4-5 times a week according to the Gospel of Squat, and yeah: I do that with all necessary precautions and adaptations to accommodate my ever growing bump.

Truth be said, it was already kind of there because despite of being healthy like a pig, I’m also a bit overweight according to most standards, even after losing 25 pounds last year. Apart from the occasional, not even weird craving I usually don’t give in to (crisps and ice cream), I try to eat healthy stuff I cook myself. And I feel fit and great.


For many people, being pregnant means being in a state worse than physically handicapped.

It apparently also means abstaining from any (let alone strenuous) exercise. Eating “ well” is highly recommended but can be anything from stuffing yourself because you’re “ eating for two” to counting every single damn calorie you ingest.

Also recommended by my army of apocalyptic friends and family: sitting around and not moving at all for 9 months. They even research the internet on my behalf for any scary pregnancy condition I (or the baby) might attract because of my lifestyle.

I’ve been having fun collecting insane advice about my ever-growing bump:

  1. Do you drive?! (5 times)
  2. You shouldn’t work out AT ALL! You might drop the baby (umpteen times)!
  3. Do you swim?! (+ lots of dirty looks on the beach from older women why think I’m behaving irresponsibly)
  4. While swimming: (screeching voice from the shore): YOU! HEY YOU! Who, me? YES, YOU!!!! GET OUT OF THE WATER NOW! Are you talking to me? YES, YOU!!! GET OUT! NOW!!!!! But why?! (thinking: sharks? Tsunami? WTF?) THE WATER IS DIRTY! IT’S UNHYGIENIC!!!! (look down: crystal clear, fishes dancing around my toes…)

Well, dear friends and family, I am just not buying into that shit.

Instead of listening to you I:

  1. Consulted my physician/gynecologist and guess what: OH HORROR! He gave me the green light to go on with, training, eating and living like I was a normal person, barring any pregnancy complications, in which case (duh!) I should consult him again.
  2. Talked to my PT, who adapted my training program and food recommendations to fit the bump.
  3. I (sometimes smiling, sometimes grimacing with gritting teeth) pointed out the above to anyone trying to persuade me that “what everybody says” was actually better advice.

And guess what: they shut up.

So, for all of you ladies in the same situation as me: keep up the good work as it’s only going to benefit, not harm you; do what you have to do, want to do and can do, using your physician’s advise and your own common sense.

  • Listen to expert advice and your body, and say screw you to anyone else.
  • Kiss your partner and thank them for caring.
  • Nod to your mom and do your own thing.
  • Smile at your friends and say: thank you, I’ll think about it.
  • And beat up anyone else on the useful pretext of “ pregnancy hormones” .


  1. tinytx says:

    June 25th, 2010at 7:42 am(#)

    I’m currently 6 months pregnant and absolutely agree with all of this. I’m still lifting weights (slightly lighter than before), briskly walking (running is out-too uncomfortable), cycling and eating my normal diet, with a few extra calories thrown in. When people try to judge what I do, I just say “I run everything I do by my OBGYN at every appointment, and he’s fine with it.” And I leave it at that. They have no ammunition and it feels great.

  2. Linz says:

    June 25th, 2010at 9:23 am(#)

    Love this! I wasn’t expecting to relate to this entry, but I certainly did. Though I am not pregnant and have never been, I think this rings true for many other situations where people criticize and judge your health choices. I’m just coming off of a knee injury (partially dislocated kneecap – holy crap pain!) and I can’t believe how much unsolicited advice/criticism I have recieved about how I am approaching my recovery. Everybody is suddenly an expert. I’ll listen to my body and my physiotherapist thanks! So, if I ever do get pregnant, I’ll certainly follow this advice.

  3. Holly says:

    June 25th, 2010at 3:18 pm(#)

    I went through similar experiences when I was pregnant. Unfortunately now people give us grief about how we’re treating and raising our child instead of how I should act when pregnant. “She looks too cold, you should put a jacket on her.” “Oh, the poor girl is fussy, you should do (some random idea).” “She looks hungry, you should feed her.” “She’s not sleeping well? My mom says…”

    And on and on. What is it about children that gives people the feeling that they can ignore common courtesy?

  4. Nancy says:

    June 26th, 2010at 11:16 am(#)

    Screw public opinion, you gotta live your own life, on your own terms! Your advice is sage.

    My only disappointment in leading an active pregnancy is the severe lack of maternity wear exercise clothes out there. As my belly grows, I am having issues finding tops that wick, provide support, and cover the bump.

  5. Leela says:

    June 26th, 2010at 8:19 pm(#)

    When I was pregnant last year, I did Crossfit Mom the whole time, took and taught dance classes until 6 1/2 months, and:

    – Flew to Egypt and Maui
    – Climbed up the inside of the Great Pyramid (arduous, dull, and full of Japanese tourists; had more fun hanging out with the guards on the site)
    – Danced in un-air-conditioned rooms with master teachers
    – Stayed in a guest house with no air conditioning in Giza
    – Rode in (ancient, rickety) taxis through insane Cairo traffic without a seatbelt (just don’t look in the direction of whatever vehicle you’re swerving towards and you’ll be fine)
    – Breathed the air in Cairo, a feat in itself
    – got sick from eating The Demon Tomato Of Cairo
    – Swam in the Pacific surf
    – Drove to the top of a 10,000-ft volcano (OK, that was pretty hard, actually – not much air)
    – ate sushi

    And various other things. We are so phobic in the US!

    Remember your power and bring it with you into the delivery room. You may have to be fierce. I had to kick five people out of mine, forcefully. There is a jerk of a doctor in Brooklyn with my bootprint in his ass.

  6. Lieke says:

    June 28th, 2010at 6:47 am(#)

    Ah, maternity workout clothes, another one for the books.
    I will try to make do with belly bands in combination with xl tees, don’t know what belly bands are called in english but copy the link below for a pic. Very useful! ( They’re cheap and cover the gap between the end of your Tee-s and the start of your pants. They exist in several lengths-sizes and with prints e.g. “keep off”, “MINE” etc., very useful ;).
    For pants: buy those cheap cotton ones at Wall-mart for a few buckswith the horrible elastic bands, at least they fit and keeping to your training is more important anyway than how sassy you look in the gym for a month or so. Then give them away to somebody who needs them so you’ll feel good about it.

  7. heather says:

    June 28th, 2010at 9:21 am(#)

    I found some excellent maternity work-out clothes (including a tank top (with a built-in bra) from Lululemon!) at a local consignment store and for sale second-hand on-line (kijiji, I think). Ask around at your gym or yoga studio or wherever you see active women — maybe someone will sell or lend you some maternity clothes!

  8. tinytx says:

    June 28th, 2010at 9:22 am(#)

    fit2bmom has pretty good workout clothes. This was an area where I had issues as well. They’re not cheap, but I’ve found they’re worth it.

  9. Julie says:

    June 28th, 2010at 12:02 pm(#)

    For all of you pregnant ladies out there. BTW this is an excellent comic. Read from the beginning!

  10. Janna says:

    June 29th, 2010at 7:06 am(#)

    As a childless person, I often feel like I live in the age of baby obsession. Motherhood and parenting standards have been exalted to an level of perfection that is simply unattainable. It’s a wonder that any woman would get pregnant these days – the system is set-up to turn you into a raging neurotic mess and no matter what you do, some “expert” will find fault with it.

    Maybe in this case a measure of ignorance is bliss. Or just don’t have children at all (in which case you’ll still be labelled as “unnatural”, but the extra sleep might be worth it).

  11. Janna says:

    June 29th, 2010at 8:25 am(#)

    To add to my point above:

  12. Trishy says:

    June 29th, 2010at 9:07 pm(#)

    Interesting article, Janna.

    I get the impression that Margaret Wente likes to over-generalize her own experiences and opinions to the whole of society. There was not a scrap of science in that article, no references to peer-reviewed research, and some claims were downright wrong (breastfeeding is overrated? Seriously??) I would argue that the newfound concern for UVA and BPA is not specific to motherhood, but rather is indicative of a society that is becoming (rightfully) more suspicious of what companies and governments tell them, and is trying to figure out the right way for themselves. The world wasn’t safer 20 years ago, we just were not as fully aware of some of the dangers around us. The additional responsibility that comes along with this expanded awareness belongs to everyone, not just mothers.

  13. Christina says:

    June 30th, 2010at 10:58 am(#)

    I’m pregnant, in an arm cast and still exercising under the direction of my doctor. It’s amazing the number of “experts” out there that “know” what I should and shouldn’t be doing. When this happens my husband stands back. My responses are not always as generous as yours.

  14. Die Pinguine says:

    July 4th, 2010at 8:50 am(#)

    Leela brings up an interesting point. I’m 11 weeks pregnant now, and being able to read about 8 languages, I’m having fun reading the “what to do what not to do” stuff from lots of different countries. The stuff I read from the US is by far the most phobic and paranoid.

    A lot of it seems to be based on extremely poor education in general. For example, the thing with alcohol. You are given the impression that if you had even one sip of wine post-conception (and before knowing you are pregnant at all), you are an evil woman and your baby is going to be born retarded (I know, not the politically correct word du jour) and deformed with no chance in life. And of course you’re even worse for wanting to get an abortion because you don’t want to give birth to a retarded and deformed child who has no chance in life.

    Sometimes you have to wonder how we ever got past being cave people, how fragile we are these days… geez!

  15. Trishy says:

    July 4th, 2010at 12:34 pm(#)

    Die Pinguine, abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy is not paranoia. According to the CDC, Mayo Clinic, and many other health organizations, even occasional alcohol consumption can lead to fetal alcohol effects, especially when alcohol consumption occurs during the first trimester.

    I understand your point about the fact that some people can be overly cautious when it comes to pregnancy, but alcohol consumption is not the best example to illustrate this point, since it is well-known to be dangerous for a fetus.

  16. Die Pinguine says:

    July 5th, 2010at 5:35 am(#)


    Do you have any studies that show that drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol those weeks of pregnancy before finding out about the pregnancy lead to fetal alcohol effects? I’m really not interested in the fetuses of women who drink heavily daily. It does not apply to me, nor does it apply to anyone else I know.

    It’s this whole “even if you had one drink during the first trimester, your baby will have fetal alcohol problems, and shame on you for not knowing you were pregnant right from conception” attitude and fear-mongering I’m fed up with.

  17. Lieke says:

    July 5th, 2010at 5:55 am(#)

    Hi Trishy,

    Nevertheless Die Pinguine has a point. Official guidelines on what to do and what not to do vary widely from one country to another. In Greece for example, a number of GP’s and OB’s advise their patients not to drive (???WHY??? Does the fetus deed a driver’s licence??? Really Couldn’t figure that one out) after the 1st trimester, and to keep their babies indoors for the 1st 40 days after birth as it is considered safer. This last one is in fact a completely non-research based opinion coming from a christian society (Baby Jesus was presented to the Temple 40 days after his birth). Other countries advise parents to keep babies indoors for a week just in case. Other countries urge parents to take kids out asap as this will make them stronger. Go figure.
    I agree that alcohol use is not the best example to use in this case, but I tend to agree with Die Penguine’s general opinion that we’re often made to panic for no reason. I would also really like to see the complete scientific wad of studies on the subject. Anyone?
    In the meantine, I do honestly admit to a guilt-free occasional sip (not glass or glasses) from my partner’s glass of wine or champagne on very special occasions. Since I’m not an alcoholic, that feels good but does not taste of more. FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) is definitely not an option.

  18. Mistress Krista says:

    July 5th, 2010at 12:44 pm(#)

    Lieke, as a woman 5′ tall I typically have trouble reaching the clutch properly in most standard cars, so I can imagine that fetuses are probably even worse off. :)

  19. Trishy says:

    July 5th, 2010at 2:24 pm(#)

    I agree with the general opinion that pregnant women are often given overly cautious and sometimes downright irrational guidelines that are more rooted in cultural traditions and old wives tales than science. This must get very frustrating very quickly for a pregnant woman. However, I stand by my original point that alcohol consumption is a poor example of this, since it is well-documented to be potentially dangerous. I understand that moderate to heavy drinking is typically found to cause fetal alcohol effects, and there is no evidence (as far as I can find) that an occasional sip of alcohol has any detectable effect on a developing fetus. However, individuals respond to alcohol differently, and rather than trying to issue guidelines for what constitutes “safe” alcohol consumption for a pregnant women (which really can’t be determined because it can be so variable), health officials simply advocate for abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy. This seems prudent, not paranoid, and is completely different than badly misinformed advice along the lines of don’t swim, drive, or lift heavy things.

  20. Sarah says:

    July 5th, 2010at 10:23 pm(#)

    I am also a woman 5′ tall and I did have to abandon driving my standard-transmission truck at about 8 months pregnant. I was, however, able to drive our Honda Civic right up til I gave birth. However, I believe that the driving advice is based on the fact that as your belly grows, the seatbelt doesn’t fit right, and in an accident the seatbelt can actually cause additional damage. Maybe. I think a better reason not to drive in late pregnancy is because you will feel better and have an easier labour & delivery if you walk everywhere :-)

    Regarding the booze, I just read an excellent book by Nina Planck called “Real Food for Mother and Baby” and she reviewed the research on alcohol and pregnancy and reported that while there was excellent research on the effects of heavy alcohol use, there was little research on the effects of minimal to moderate alcohol use during pregnancy, and that small amount of research didn’t indicate much in the way of risk. Many women though, myself included, find that appetite for alcohol disappears nearly completely when one is pregnant. Despite being a firm proponent of a glass of wine with dinner, I could never actually finish one.

    And, for the record, I lifted weights all through my pregnancy, nearly won the “exercise for points” competition at work in my second semester, drank wine in public, and never heard a single word of disapproval. Go figure.

  21. Die Pinguine says:

    July 8th, 2010at 2:37 am(#)

    I’m still doing Olympic lifts (though not as heavy as usual), but I’m not showing yet. I can’t wait to see the looks on people once I do start to show.

    Oh, and I’m also suddenly able to do chin-ups. With my palms facing away. No assistance. What the… ???

  22. Blog-watch: some pregnancy articles says:

    July 15th, 2010at 1:48 pm(#)

    […] an excellent article (really an email which has been posted up as a Guest Post) on Stumptuous about the way other people decide they are the experts on your pregnancy and the fact that you are […]

  23. Marge says:

    July 26th, 2010at 1:15 am(#)

    All through my 2 pregnancies I continued biking, swimming and working full time. Result: 2 healthy sons now 16 and 18. One’s 185 cm and 75kg the other 197 cm and 90kg.
    Keep moving!

  24. CathyW says:

    July 30th, 2010at 1:24 pm(#)

    I probably wouldn’t lift while pregnant, but that’s only because I’m inexperienced with it, and the advice I’ve always heard from healthcare professionals is to continue with whatever activity you ARE used to doing. But, if I were an experienced lifter, then I’d continue lifting, after consulting with a trainer that was actually knowledgeable about pregnancy about what exercises are OK. Modifying if necessary.

    I always found it annoying when people held the door for me when I was pregnant, but often not when I had a baby. The latter was much more of a handicap than the state of being pregnant.

    I was also fortunate that no stranger ever fondled my belly – I think I have a don’t-touch-me attitude or something (or maybe it’s because I wasn’t a cute pregnant lady – rather I was a dumpy one, and my belly wasn’t inviting or something), but I think I would have a) yelled at the person, or better yet, if I thought of it, b) patted their belly in return.

  25. shanon says:

    August 11th, 2010at 6:21 pm(#)

    wow i love this article,…i have heard alot of people say things but nothing compared to what you all i have heard. see im only 8 weeks yesterday and i am stoked to be a mom and im so excited about having a baby. i want a boy but overall just a healthy baby. if you guys have any advice for me that is useful then please email me and let me know. i run with my husband about 3 times a week and im slightly over weight and i cant do all things and i dont push to hard but i do push myself and want to be healthy when my baby is boen. but i do give a big thanks to all of you who are so strong and great moms.

  26. Lieke says:

    August 23rd, 2010at 8:35 am(#)

    Hi Shannon, congratulations on your pregnancy!

    Im into week 30 now and still do weight training on a respectable level. I actually got stronger these past few months and upped some exercises.

    Concerning running, I’ve never been a runner and would sefetywise rather advise (monitored) weight training, especially since you say you’re somewhat overweight (like me) and running is a fairly high impact sport, HOWEVER: if it feels right to you it feels right. And since you’ve been running for a while you could probably continue to do so until it doesn’t feel right any more.

    Since you don’t indicate weight training, just go on with what you do and try to eat healthy.
    What I do now for weight training is described in the other article in this section.

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