Pregnant Women Need Empathy, Not Opinions

Andrea Huls
4 min readNov 11, 2019

Respect our bodies and our choices

I’m eight months pregnant. At this point, it’s hard to miss my huge belly. Yet, there are occasions when I feel invisible.

I’ve experienced different pains during pregnancy—nausea, migraines, vomiting, hip pain, leg pain, back pain. I’d never felt so tired in my life.

I’ve tried my hardest to be there for loved ones, to do my best at work, and to care for the new life growing inside of me. I’ve experienced beautiful moments, such as listening to my baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Yet, there have been situations when I wished I had a magic remote control to shut people up.

I’m appalled by the lack of empathy toward pregnant women. For instance, taking public transportation has been a daily struggle. In Barcelona, public transport signals seats reserved for the elderly, pregnant women, and people with reduced mobility. These seats were rarely available. Passengers avoided making eye contact with me so that they wouldn’t have to give up their spot. I don’t know if this is true for women in other places, but it has been true for me. If these people had a watermelon pushing down their organs, maybe they’d understand why I wanted to sit while on a 30-minute ride.

During my pregnancy, I was struck by how some were more interested in telling me how to feel, what to do, and how to do it instead of listening to how I felt. Listening to my experience was not as important as passing on out of place and intrusive information.

Some people projected their fears and insecurities about labor, breastfeeding, recovery, and more. I’ve heard countless horror stories. Sometimes, the people telling me about horrible births were people who have not been pregnant or do not have children.

I already had plenty of fears and concerns of my own. I didn’t need to hear horror stories. Even though people might have had the best intentions when telling me about other women's experiences, I doubt they realized they weren't helpful.

Each pregnancy is different. From reading about other women’s experiences, I learned about the many challenges, fears, and pains they’ve faced. I have experienced things like constant migraines that other women have not.

Andrea Huls

Writer, documentary filmmaker, photographer, feminist, mother, and much more.