Baby gender, orgasmic births and other unsolicited pregnancy advice

I have always really enjoyed the social aspect of pregnancy. I love that a baby bump seems to break down barriers between people, making it easier for strangers to strike up conversation. Pregnancy provides an easy talking point, and one that many people can relate to and enjoy speaking about.

Personally, I love talking about my baby bump and am always happy to answer questions about my experience, the baby’s gender (we don’t know), my body, my birth plan, etc. It is one of the few times in your life where it is socially acceptable to talk about such things, and I genuinely enjoy it.

However, there is also a downside. Some people share opinions or ask questions that make you doubt yourself or your body. In the last week alone, I’ve heard ‘oh, you’re so low, you must be due very soon’ or ‘not long to go now?’ followed by looks of surprise when I explain I still have two months until my due date. This being my fifth baby, I’m pretty secure about my body (I always carry low and my belly has always been quite big at this stage of pregnancy!), but I imagine that if it were my first baby, I might start to worry. Is this baby too big? Will I go into labour early? Should I be worried?

My mom told me that, unlike me, she was always very small in pregnancy, hardly showing a baby bump until the final weeks. People would constantly make worrying comments about her size and the health of her babies, and yet she had five normal sized babies!

I love that pregnancy unites women and encourages others to share their experiences. It can be a wonderful opportunity to learn from and be empowered by other women.  But sometimes, hearing other women’s experiences can instil fears or doubts about our own. I have found that pregnancy can be a time where you generally feel more vulnerable, and the last thing you need when you’re pregnant is any additional doubts about your body and your ability to give birth. With each pregnancy I’ve gotten better at disregarding worrying advice or comments and having faith in my body and the very natural, beautiful process of pregnancy. But I know, it’s easier said than done.

A funny thing happened to me the other day that is too good not to share. I was standing in the queue for the women’s toilet at a local restaurant. It was a busy evening and there were many of us waiting. The women standing behind me mentioned my baby bump and asked me how long I had to go. She looked at me in shock when I told her I still had another two months… and then continued to tell me that she had three friends in the past month that had experienced orgasmic births. I have heard about orgasmic births – after all, Ina May Gaskin is my hero and I’ve read all her books — and while I think it would be incredible to experience this, I know how unlikely it is and have never given it much thought. I explained to the woman that I’ve had four children and I couldn’t imagine an orgasmic birth, hoping to put an end to the conversation, but she saw this as an invitation to explain in detail all of the mechanics of achieving an orgasmic birth, while putting her body into funny positions, itemising the intimate female anatomy involved and relaying her friends’ experiences. This all took place in the presence of an equally shocked and amused audience of strangers. Ahh, the things people say to pregnant women!! Haha.

I’d love to hear your experience with this. Have you received unsolicited advice or comments and how have you dealt with it? Please share below.



Comments (33)

January 12, 2017

That’s hilarious! When I was in labour with my youngest we had a midwife explaining a little about orgasmic birth. She did have my husband and I laughing a lot, she was also really encouraging about my VBAC and had a beautiful Jamaican accent. I was sad to see her finish her shift. It’s great to have someone with a good sense of humour when in labour. I also get told you must be due soon when I have months to go. I had an emergency caesarean with my first baby after I had a very long labour and his heart rate dropped. I found that not many obstetricians were positive about VBAC (I guess they see the emergencies and midwives see most of the births). I did have one positive obstetrician but another would tell me the worst case scenarios each time. I agreed to go nine days over my due date and not be induced. After a day spent walking to encourage birth. My baby boy came after a16 hour labour naturally. I was booked to have a cesarean that morning so he was born just in time! The midwives were so great and I’m thankful that I didn’t feel fearful. I realise cesareans are necessary at times but I did want to avoid another if possible. I enjoy reading this blog. Wishing you and your family all the best! Very exciting with another baby on the way.

January 12, 2017

I understand how you feel and share the same feelings! My Dad thought it would be funny to introduce me to his neighbour whilst heavily pregnant and ask him if he thought I’d put on some weight? I wasn’t amused as my bump was very large!

January 12, 2017

I had my first baby in May last year. I had no end of people telling me how ‘Massive’ I was. Luckily I had done a hypnobirthing course so I was able to push any worries aside about how big my baby might be and brush these comments off with a smile… until 2 weeks before my baby arrived that is. I had gone for a walk (read waddle) down my local high street on a very hot sunny day. Got myself a huge icecream and headed home. A woman walking towards me took my hand and said “oh you poor thing having to be out on a day like this when you’re like that!” I looked her in the eye and very calmly said that I was having a lovely day in the sunshine, enjoying the last few days of my pregnancy and how lucky I was and that I really didn’t need her concern thank you very much and promptly marched off (waddled off!) She stood staring after me for a while!
Another time I was in the fishmongers and the lady serving me said “oh you’re massive aren’t you are you sure there’s not twins in there?’ My mum was with me and lost it at the poor woman asking if she had xray vision and could tell how much water I was carrying and how big my placenta was?! Haha!
Turns out I really was big as my baby boy was 10lb 6.5oz!

January 13, 2017

My first baby was over 9lbs and towards the end, my bump was huge. I had many comments and I got so fed up that when the cashier at a supermarket looked me up and down and said ‘is it twins’, I pulled the most innocent face I could muster and replied ‘is what twins?’. She went very red, packed up my groceries and didn’t speak again until I left the shop! Maybe a bit childish but I found it hilarious!

Alice Crisp
January 12, 2017

I am pregnant with my 4th bub. My first 3 happen to be girls. The only strangers that seem to comment when I am out and about with the kids always ask if it is a boy I am carrying. When I say I don’t know they either say ‘I bet you hope it is’ or even worse ‘I hope for your sake it is’ All in front of my 3 gorgeous girls.

January 12, 2017

The first time I was pregnant, I had twins; we have a son and a daughter now who are 20 months old. It is amazing how many people feel like they can talk about your family planning when you’re pregnant! Complete strangers would ask if my twins were “natural” or if we were surprised to be having twins…all code for….did we use IVF? Then, once they found out we were having a son and daughter, everyone, EVERYONE would say something like, “Great! a boy and girl! Once and done!”

As it would turn out, we were NOT done. We’re expecting a daughter in June…and now people are surprised and often ask “was it planned?” Because why oh why would we want a third child when we already have a son and daughter? I suspect if we’d had two children of the same gender the first time, we’d be facing what Alice gets…”do you hope you’re having a boy/girl?” As it happens, this isn’t the 16th century, and my worth is not determined by the gender or number of children I produce 😉

Sarah Thorneycroft
January 12, 2017

Thank you for this post Courtney. I am 37 weeks pregnant with my second and like you I carry low. Since about 28 weeks I have had strangers give me concerned looks and they have told me that the baby will be very early. I’ve also had people tell me “your massive” and “your not very big are you?” Makes me laugh and I don’t take anything to heart. I’ve also noticed that when I tell women that I’m expecting another boy they give me a sympathetic look or ever say “so will you be trying again for a girl next time?” When I say I’m honestly happy with two boys and don’t want anymore they look at me funny. We are all different in each pregnancy and what we want in life – I think some people don’t quite understand that. Hope all goes well for you 🙂

Leanne Carr from Sydney
January 12, 2017

Hi Courtney

First of all: your bump is beautiful🤰
Haha funny the things people say
I have had 3 births and had a very big bump for all.
Although my youngest is now 16, I remember some of the comments said to me whilst I was pregnant. The most common being: you are huge I feel sorry for you. What I wanted to say was geez thanks for that – haha. I can laugh now I suppose. The most annoying one was: I will have no life once I have this baby. Even more frustrating when I was pregnant with my 3rd, people would say I am crazy for having 3 in 3.5 years🙄. Becoming a mother gave me confidence and strength which I had never experienced before. In the early years I felt invincible, proud and lucky as well as emotional and vulnerable. Being pregnant is special and amazing, but it also can be overwhelming.😍
All the best with your birth and enjoy your beautiful family.x

January 12, 2017

Hello Courtney,
I was 36 when pregnant with my second baby and as it happened, an office colleague who sat right in front of me was was also expecting ( only a few days apart). The only difference is that she was a petite 18 years old! I think her mum was actually MY AGE!! So you can imagine the 8 months we endured, being compared by everyone around us. I didn’t mind so much, as it was my second baby but she spent her pregnancy worried about the size of her bump (tiny compared to mine) and wondering whether not feeling the same symptoms I felt was a bad sign.
We both had very healthy babies at the end but other people’s little comments did make her feel insecure about her own body’s ability to ‘create’ a healthy baby, which is a big shame, as it is such a special time in one’s life.
Loving hearing from you and your family, from a cold, wintery, and if you believe the weather reports, a soon snowy London! Xx

Lynn M.
January 12, 2017

I carry low and show very early, too, and also get a lot of dramatic intakes of breath and “what are you going to look like in __ months if your belly is that huge already??!!” This is my third pregnancy, so I take it in stride and pride, but I admit I am sometimes tempted to return the question! ha.

January 12, 2017

You are a beautiful, joyful woman and a wonderful mother, that is all I want to say. Many greetings 😍

January 12, 2017

I picked up this article today and it couldn’t have come at a better time! I’m 36 weeks and as my pregnancy draws to an end instead of developing a thick skin to all these conversations and comments, I have instead gone the other way! Im a worrying wreck! I cannot get through my working day without countless clumsy comments about how low I am and it’s going to be any minute, this in turn comes with what can only be described as horror stories about their birth, their wife’s birth or anyone else they may know or have heard about – relishing in providing me with all the gory details.
We have done a hypnobirthing course and I couldn’t recommend it more, to anyone who is anxious or overwhelmed or just wanting to block out these unhelpful comments – get yourself booked on one now!
And if you overhear someone providing anything less than positive and helpful advice on labour – please step in!
This is a wonderful time that we should feel nothing but privileged to experience, but it can be a very overwhelming journey, we should be supporting each other

Hazel Elder-Smith
January 12, 2017

I was really small during my pregnancy due to having hyperemesis for 5 months and so many people who asked me about my pregnancy were worried about my size. But my daughter was always within her size limit during pregnancy and she was born 6.14 so nothing wrong at all. I’m also vegan and many people who knew us assumed I was small because of my diet however that was not the case. About a week before I was due I shocked some retail staff as they assumed my baby was going to born in spring. Just shows every bump and baby are different and you can’t judge yourself by what others went through

January 12, 2017

Courtney, I can totally relate. When I was pregnant last year, people looked genuinely shocked when I would tell them I still had 2 months to go. I carried low too! One lady at the grocery store had this look of disgust on her face as she said in passing “someone is about to pop” I was only 6 months at that point. I tried to shake it off, but it really bothered me. I didn’t even know this woman! I also had people comment on how small my frame was and assume I wasn’t eating enough. And yet, my baby girl was healthy and over 9lbs when she was born! You gave me amazing advice last year that stuck with me when I started to let other people’s comments and unsolicited advice get me down. You said to trust my body and that’s exactly what I did! It was my third pregnancy, but I was able to have my first natural birth with no epidural and felt so proud of myself when I finally got to hold our baby girl in my arms! Thinking of you — you look healthy and beautiful as ever. Wishing you the very best on this next chapter xx

January 12, 2017

Oh people! We are a funny sort!! I just delivered my 3rd about 4 months ago. We actually did something quite funny and did NOT tell our family and friends about my pregnancy!! A complete secret, can you believe it?! It started out to not say anything because it was too early to share and then when we decided I needed to deliver at home. I didn’t want the unsolicited advice and fears of others opinions of a home birth, especially living in the country on my little island, plus I didn’t want to worry my family when I felt so confident and trusted my body that everything would be alright. No one took offense not knowing and was all a good funny sport about our big surprise! But I definitely got all the opinions of people around me not approving and telling me how I was incapable of having a baby and taking care of my other children without help. Which my husband and I did just fine! Angels muat have been with us that morning because my 2 year old that doesn’t sit through a single movie sat through Frozen on our couch during my entire labor and delivery!! I am petite, short and without a long torso. People are always saying I am carrying high and very big, but honestly there isn’t much of anywhere for my body and baby to grow but out! 😉 because of so many opinions I always try my best to NOT share my thoughts unless genuinely asked by someone.

January 12, 2017

Strangely, during both of my pregnancies, I had an inordinate number of people tell me that they had friends who lost babies at (whatever week I happened to be at the time). Thank you?!?! Why would you ever follow up with a story like that!
And while I was pregnant with my daughter last year, I had someone tell me that it was too bad I was having a daughter after a son because that’s the order her children were in and her son hated her daughter. I was not really upset about that story, but felt that it was inappropriate and unnecessary to have said. But who cares now? My son is absolutely in love with his baby sister!

January 12, 2017

Oh, I should also mention that for some of the horrible things that were told to me, I had many wonderful things said as well. One of my favorites was a lady at my church who told me I “looked promising.” To me, it was a sweet way to acknowledge my condition, made me feel beautiful, and made me feel as if I was up for the task ahead. 😊

Courtney in Australia
January 13, 2017

I love the expression of ‘looking promising’. That is so beautiful! xx

January 12, 2017

When I was pregnant I had several strangers come up to me and insist on telling me I was having a boy because of how I was carrying. When I answered that it was a girl (I’d even had a DNA test) they would claim that it was wrong. One woman was so insistent that she told me I had to come back after the baby was born for proof. I couldn’t wait to finish paying for my cookies and run away.

January 12, 2017

When I got pregnant with my first I had been very vocal about the fact that I didn’t plan to have any children, so most of the comments were from people who thought it was hilarious that I was having a baby. That reaction was not really helpful, since I did not think it was hilarious and was actually quite upset to pregnant with an unexpected child (fortunately, I was very happy to have her once she was born)!

With my second I was mostly criticized for my caffeine intake by the older women in my office, even though I was well under the daily limit. The most annoying with that pregnancy, though, was one day when I was walking down the street starving, nauseous, and dealing with quite a bit of pelvic pain, a random man chastised me for not smiling! He told me that because I was pregnant I should be smiling all the time because it was such a happy time. All I could think was that he clearly had never been pregnant himself!

With both of those pregnancies people were concerned with my size because I am tall and I didn’t gain much weight. I have a really long torso, and my belly never really popped until the end.

I’m now pregnant with my third and not many people know yet, but the most common reaction I’ve gotten so far is confusion because I already have both a daughter and a son. Apparently people feel having children is a game of collecting genders! We’ve also had comments about it being a poor financial decision or too large a burden to take on with two active children and two very demanding careers. The first is strange because we have the funds for a large family. The second is probably true, but it’s too late to turn back now! We will figure it out, just as everyone else does.

January 12, 2017

Oh the comments… so many comments. I got BIG with both of my kids… just in the stomach area and the last 1-2 months of both pregnancies I dreaded going out in public because I would get stared at or would get the unsolicited advice or comments. People were insistent that I must be having twins and that I must be on the verge of popping and the usual. The whole orgasmic birth makes me laugh, though. I had one non-medicated birth and with how fast it went and with how painful it was, I can’t imagine ever being in the head space to have an orgasmic birth.

January 12, 2017

I can totally relate to some of the experiences shared here. I also got a lot of horror stories, lost babies, mothers dying during childbirth, stitches getting infected… why do people tell you these stories? Then there was the funny question: “aren’t you tired already of being pregnant?” Should I be?! And then there was the “yeah, now you’ll see how your life is going to be over”, uttered half like a threat, half like a welcome to the club…it really shocked me and I never quite understood why some parents seem to resent the new parents that have been childless for a while. I wondered if they regretted having had their own children in the first place, otherwise why would my life be over? Parenthood should be a whole new stage in your life not the end of it…

January 13, 2017

I was always told that my bump looked small during my pregnancies. I think it was intended as a compliment, but it worried me very much that something was wrong and the baby wasn’t growing properly. However, each of my babies weighed 8-8.5 pounds and there was nothing wrong at all. As a result of this experience, I have learned that it is kinder not to say anything about a pregnant woman’s size. Just say she’s beautiful and leave it at that.

Lara in London
January 14, 2017

I love this post Courtney. It is so true that everyone has their story to share once they spot a bump. And my bump was so low and big with my last pregnancy that London cabbies used to practically pull over as if I was rushing off to the Birth Centre, when in fact I was only 30 weeks and just walking down the street quickly after a scooting toddler 🙂 . Enjoy that bump. What a beautiful thing it is. And what an even more beautiful thing it is to let your body do its thing with no stress or concern with everyone else’s opinions. Nature, isn’t it awe inspiring! xx

January 15, 2017

I’m pregnant with my third and hear all the time how small I am. I carry all my babies small, and I don’t really look very pregnant until my last month. My doula told me that every pregnant women’s mantra should be “my baby is the perfect size for my body!” I tell myself this when I hear these comments. Doulas for the win! You look beautiful, Mama of five!

January 17, 2017

The worst is when you aren’t pregnant and people ask you when you’re due. THAT IS THE WORST!!!

Esther in Amsterdam
January 17, 2017

Hahahaha!!!! (Happens to me sometimes) xxx

Courtney in Australia
January 17, 2017

Haha! That’s definitely happened to me too!! Humiliating!!! xxx

January 18, 2017

Ha! Or you are pushing your already six months old in a pram and you are asked if you are due soon!

January 24, 2017

Oh why do people need to comment on the bump size?!? Having been pregnant in China and now expecting again in the U.K., it seems to be a universal thing! I was big with my son and when I would go out in Beijing, people would shout at me from across the street ‘Is it two babies?’. My Mandarin teacher nicknamed my bump ‘xiao xi guo’ small watermelon. I’m 33 weeks and huge again and as much as I do enjoy talking to people about the pregnancy but the bump comments can make you doubt your body and whether everything is okay with baby. So especially if this is your first pregnancy, try not to take the comments to heart. You are carrying your baby exactly as you should x

January 24, 2017

Oh that should be xigua for watermelon. I was never very good at Mandarin!

March 15, 2017

Ina May is a hero of mine too. She “delivered” all my babies. 🙂 “Horse lips!!” elicited lots of laughs when I made my husband and doula join in (MADE them). And it worked! Maybe your horse print will remind you to giggle and open up during labor. 🙂 I’m so excited for you to embrace the beautiful home birth you have planned with your children joining in. Beauti-full. Something my first birth prevented me from ever trying due to a c-section after a long natural labor, but we went for hospital natural VBACS for the next three, and they were all four beautiful in their own way. So many ways to have a baby ~ all wonderful! Anyways, two short stories….
My friends threw me a baby shower with my third, though I didn’t really need a thing; they just wanted to celebrate, so kind and thoughtful. I was feeling so encouraged by their comments about my ginormous sideways watermelon belly and told them if ONE MORE person says “You’re about to pop!” I’m gonna lose it. Suddenly the gas oven started malfunctioning and leaking fumes and the fire department was called. The fireman walks in and says “Whoa, you’re about to POP!” And I couldn’t help laughing at the irony and audacity.
I ran into a mother of 6 one time who took one look at me (3 years post birth) and said “Oh are you expecting!? How wonderful!” I said “Oh, no, this is just post baby belly.” I think she felt worse than I did. It really helps to laugh it off. You’re so grounded in that way! I am so appreciative of your honest, real, uncluttered presence on social media. It’s refreshing! Xoxo

Kim Monaco
March 27, 2017

This is the first time I’ve read something about orgasmic birth. Good luck to your family and I hope to hear more from you guys. Cheers!

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