OK!'s Deputy Entertainment Editor Kat Romero is expecting her first baby and her weekly column offers a funny and frank insight into the highs and lows of pregnancy, and every surprise and bump (no pun intended) along the way.
This week, Kat reflects on the judgement women face throughout their pregnancy journey. From baristas questioning your coffee order to taxi drivers offering to pray for the safety of your unborn child. Register below to read her latest column…
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Let's face it, as humans we judge. It's in our nature. I do it, I'll admit – I'm guilty when I see a grown man riding a scooter to work. Or when tourists go for an 'authentic' London dinner at an Angus Steakhouse. And especially when I see a woman working out in tight gym leggings without displaying an almost pornographic display of camel toe. Although that last one is probably more jealously than judgement.
But I didn't realise that when I announced my pregnancy, I'd face quite so mjuch judgement from other people. It feels like from the moment you tell the world you're expecting, the pregnancy police are out on duty and monitoring your every move.
I got my first dose of the Covid vaccine last week. It came after deliberating the decision with my partner for weeks. When I first fell pregnant, I was told the vaccine wouldn't be an option for me as they weren't sure it was safe during pregnancy. Then, seemingly overnight, the advice changed. I asked one of my midwifes for her thoughts, only for her to shrug and say 'it's your decision' with the same casualness I'd expect if I'd asked her thoughts on me supersizing my McDonald's order. Not helpful. After researching online and speaking to other pregnant women, I came to the conclusion that, in my opinion, the vaccine was the safest option for me and my baby.
But I was horrified to see so many tweets from women who had faced looks of judgement as they lined up at vaccination centres. Some have even posted about facing tuts of disapproval and questions like 'are you sure this is safe?' from other people in the queue. One friend told me she even had a taxi driver tell her he'd be 'praying for the safety' of her baby when she told him she'd just been for her first jab. So naturally, I felt nervous going in for my vaccine. I didn't wear my baby on board badge and I purposely popped on a oversized smock to drown my bump. Thankfully, no one took much notice of me – and a man fainted in the waiting room due to overheating so he may have taken the spotlight off me slightly.
But it did make me think about the times I've already had the pregnancy police out for patrol in my pregnancy. Once, a male friend casually mentioned that the Diet Coke can I was drinking on a Zoom call may not contain sugar but did have something called aspartame in, so I should drink in moderation. For the record, it was my only can of the day and probably the third I had consumed in weeks.
I've also had a waiter breathe a rather dramatic sigh of relief when he came over to my table in a pub beer garden with an Aperol Spritz only to realise that the order was not for me. My friend has had it worse too – a waiter refused to serve her a glass of wine at a bar when she was pregnant, even though she insisted it wasn't for her.
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One mate told me she'd even faced judgement for her coffee order, when the barista asked if she'd rather switch to decaf. And I've also seen a thread on Twitter about women facing similar experiences in cafes, with staff and even people in the queue questioning whether they should be drinking coffee in their 'condition'. Ugh.
Prior to pregnancy I had been an absolute coffee fiend but as soon as week 7 hit I went off it completely. Even a whiff of it makes me feel green. But if I hadn't, rest assured I'd still be drinking my morning espresso. The official NHS advice is that 200mg of caffeine per day is absolutely fine for mother and baby. And with the discomfort we experience as our body grows another life and the sheer amount of times many of us have to get up in the night to wee, you can understand why a pregnant woman needs her caffeine fix in the morning.
And the list goes on. Another friend told me she was approached by a stranger in a gym when she was working out whilst heavily pregnant, telling her how unsafe it was. Even though exercising throughout pregnancy is perfectly safe and even encouraged if you've always kept fit before. On the flip side, other women have spoken about being shamed for spending their pregnancy less active, as if morning sickness and intense exhaustion just aren't valid excuses for not wanting to pump iron or go out for a sprint.
What so many people don't realise is that in pregnancy, most things tend to be ok in moderation. And most mums to be have done their research thoroughly. We're not going into this blind and simply relying on the judgement of strangers to tell us when we're doing something harmful.
Also, people forget that as pregnant women we don't just cease to be human, and suddenly become just vessels for our unborn babies. I am eternally grateful to be expecting but pregnancy has meant temporarily giving up many of my favourite things. I miss the feeling of wine haze that hits you on your third large glass. I miss eating raw fish sushi without the fear of infection. I miss spreading liver pate across a hot baguette and throwing care for my waistline to the wind.
So please retire the pregnancy police patrol. We're growing life inside of us and at the end of this blissful journey full of sickness, swelling and soreness, we have to push a baby the size of a watermelon out of our nether regions. Let's face it, no human comes into this world prepared to one day experience the horror of a vaginal tear or pooing themselves in front of a room full of people. It's a hard time, so give us a break.
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