Beat the pregnancy police

Warning Pregnancy

My forty something girlfriend announced at the weekend she’s having a long wished-for baby. Naturally she’s thrilled but not loving the unwanted advice that’s suddenly flooding her way. Why is it when you’re pregnant that immediately the world and his wife are lining up to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do?


So if you are having a baby, my advice is take cover, because you are a wanted woman.

Oh yes, you didn’t see it coming, but being pregnant is an open invitation for the entire planet to tell you how to behave. As soon as you break the happy news, people you have never met before will be lining up to tell you what’s best for you and your bump. They’re the pregnancy police and they’re everywhere. So, if you want to avoid being nicked, you need to learn how to recognize them.

First, don’t confuse them with the people giving you the inside knowledge on things you should listen to, such as, ‘Steer clear of X-rays,’ and, ‘Take your folic acid.’ If you’re getting your information at the hospital from someone wearing a badge that says doctor or midwife, it’s a fair bet they know what they’re talking about. But if you’re waiting for the No 27 bus and the woman with the dodgy perm starts telling you that taking indigestion tablets will make your baby hairy, (yes someone did actually say this to me) you’ve entered a parallel universe. A world where everyone is compelled to offer you their own home-cooked, half-baked, piece of pregnancy advice.

It doesn’t matter that until now you’ve been a responsible, upstanding member of society. You’re pregnant and clearly can’t be trusted to know what’s best.

That’s why complete strangers will hijack you at parties and lecture you on that morsel of smoked salmon you’re stuffing into your mouth. And why the supermarket check-out guy will tut disapprovingly at your trolley filled with packs of nuclear-strength, super-caffeinated coffee.

And what a lot of advice there is. Let’s start with food. Don’t eat to little (as if) or too much. Don’t eat soft cheese, blue-veined cheese, Himalayan dwarf, long haired, mountain goat’s cheese, anything you even suspect could be unpasteurised (how do French women get through pregnancy?), peanuts, shellfish, sushi, smoked salmon, uncooked meat, quicke, pate, undercooked eggs, unwashed salad or fruit, spicy foods, coffee, tea and, of course, alcohol ¦eek!

You’ll need a manual just to order dinner in a restaurant.

Then there’s what you’re not supposed to do. Sky diving, deep sea diving, actually any kind of diving. Abseiling’s out, as is horse riding, skiing, raving until 6am, having your hair dyed, nipples pierced, sex in the first few weeks, sex in the last few weeks, all sex really (according to the woman at the corner shop!). You mustn’t carry heavy things ” although, surprisingly, shopping bags, the vacuum cleaner and baskets of washing don’t seem to count.

Under no circumstances can you wear perfume, relax in a spa bath or sauna, use aromatherapy oils, lie flat, holiday in hot climates, fly, paint, climb ladders, use house-hold chemicals or garden insecticides, wear tight clothes or nylon knickers, go without a well fitting bra, or shock horror, go out in high-heeled shoes.

Got all that? So what’s left? Well, yoga, knitting, pelvic floor exercises and driving your partner home drunk from parties are all suitable pastimes for a woman in your condition. But if you don’t think this is a fair cop, then here are some tips for beating the pregnancy police ” and being the pregnant woman you want to be.


  • 1. Keep the fact your pregnant quiet until your waters break. You’ll miss out on sympathy for your morning sickness but it’s worth it not to listen to Aunt Narelle telling you every day for nine months you’ll get haemorrhoids if you don’t eat prunes.


  • 2. Develop selective deafness ” hear only what you want to and ignore the rest.


  • 3. Practise the fixed smile most politicians have mastered. Then you can look as if you’re agreeing with everything people tell you, while inwardly wondering if you should buy that scarlet Lycry bump-hugging number for tonight’s party ” or get it in black.


  • 4. Discover deception ” go to natural birth classes, but have the epidural on standby for just after the first contraction. Alternatively say you’re going to Bali for the weekend and sneak off for an elective caesarean.


  • 5. Claim that glass of red wine you’re downing is Cranberry juice. (Tip: white wine is unrecognizable in spritzer form.)


  • 6. Explain you’d love to breastfeed, but it’s against your religion to show your bits in public.


  • 7. If you’re caught shoveling Brie in your face, plead pregnancy amnesia.


  • 8. Tell everyone who gives you unsolicited advice that you’ve found their help so essential you’d love if they could baby-sit every Saturday night for the next five years.

A combination of these tactics should help you get away with it. I just need to remember when I catch myself telling the pregnant girl next door, how to avoid stretchmarks ” it’s time to stop. Right now.


Have you been a victim of the ‘pregnancy police’? Tell us your stories …

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