In this article we’re going to explore another factor in things that cause fear during pregnancy: comparisons. The danger of comparing ourselves or allowing others to make comparisons during our pregnancy can have a drastic affect on our confidence and sense of worth. We’re going to identify it here and then get rid of it!
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It feels something like this:
You’re talking to someone, casually explaining some of the fun details of your pregnancy, and they bring up either themselves or someone they know, constantly sharing something similar. Only, this person did it better, had it easier, handled it smarter…
You find that what began as a nice conversation is starting to make you feel uncomfortable, even a little stressed. You start hesitating before saying anything more, and the conversation feels awkward. It feels like you’re in some sort of contest, and whatever you say is going to be measured against the other opponent.
Things That Cause Fear During Pregnancy: Comparisons of Image
I felt this most specifically in two areas. First, I was constantly being compared to others in how I gained weight during pregnancy. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know that I was not one of those amazing women who looked like they swallowed a beach ball. I gained weight everywhere–generously. I did my best to focus on staying healthy and not wrapped up in my appearance, which was enough of a task, but then I also had to endure (sometimes quite unkind) comments. The cherry on top of it all was to then be compared to so-and-so’s daughter, or to this person, and listening to how spectacular they looked during their pregnancy.
Instead of feeling support, I felt like I had unknowingly joined some unspoken contest. That did nothing for my self-esteem. It also robbed some of the attention away from the miracle of life taking place inside of me and placed attention on things that, quite frankly, were no one’s business. I wasn’t interested in trying to be the best compared to everyone else. I was trying to do my best, and that was a personal thing.
Things That Cause Fear During Pregnancy: Comparisons Of Strength
The second area I found was a minefield of comparisons were in the aches and pains. This one came with a baited question, too.
“How are you holding up with everything?”
That sounds like a friendly, concerned question, right? From your good friends and caring family, it usually is. Sometimes, though, it’s not.
Some folks who just wanted the juicy details would ask that question. I’d give an honest answer. Doing well, maybe humorously recount a weird hitch or glitch in pregnancy, and then… smack! That person would take off talking about how so-and-so had no issues during pregnancy. They loved being pregnant. No morning sickness. No problems with fatigue. No issues with pain or soreness.
My personal favorite was to hear of all the incredible things this mom or that woman could do during their pregnancy. I suffered from some serious back troubles that forced me to take leave from work. It was a tender subject for me, as I loved my job and had planned to work until I went into labor. So hearing about how people could practically do back-flips and handsprings during their pregnancy, about how they were so tough and undefeated and so on, made me feel weak and inadequate at times.
I had to battle that off. I didn’t want to taint my pregnancy with ideas and concepts from others who flippantly compared to show off their own strength. That’s rather sad, isn’t it? Someone uses your moment of honest vulnerability to show off their own strength. That sounds like a cover for some insecurity, or a superficial need to look good. We all deal with that in some form or another, but pregnancy can really bring that out of people.
This kind of comparison and conversation can make you feel like you’re “failing at pregnancy” (what!? Seriously!?) or that you are weak or lack ability. That sort of mentality, if you let it go, can really be harmful to your confidence.
But It Doesn’t Have To
While you may not be able to control what people say to you, you have all the control over what you’re going to believe and accept. You don’t have to buy in to the comparisons. You are incredible for all of your own reasons, and there are things about that no one can duplicate, or do the way that you can. And, let’s just take it back to the basics: your baby sees you as a hero. You’re nurturing them, bringing them into the world, and you are their everything.
No one can take that away from you, or diminish the importance of your role in your baby’s life.
Why Does It Happen?
I have come to believe that most people aren’t trying to be malicious–in fact, they’re usually just simply making conversation. The only thing they can do to feel like they’re contributing is to turn the conversation to themselves or someone they know, and they honestly want to share how amazing they are. I found if I viewed it in a simple way, without going too into depth or analyzing people, I spent a whole lot less time worrying about it. That’s not necessarily easy when you’re pregnant, emotional, uncomfortable, hormonal, etc. If you can master that, and choose to believe the positive about people (whether or not they mean to be), you feel a whole lot better and in control of things.
Besides, there can’t be a competition if there’s only one competitor, right? So the truth is that you have the control. You don’t have to join in at all. If they have a need to share how amazing they did in the face of your struggle, try just complimenting them and then moving on. Don’t feel flustered or inadequate, and do everything you can to not fall into the trap of comparing your pregnancy to someone else’s.
You’re Bigger Than This
Your journey is far too precious and far too incredible to be lowered to that level. Your baby is one-of-a-kind, your pregnancy is one-of-a-kind, and you are one-of-a-kind. You are a hero to that little one, and you are doing something insane. You’re bringing another entire life into the world! That’s so amazing!
No one has time to get wrapped up in comparisons. No one has time to join petty competitions. No one has time to bother with being the best at all times at every one else’s expense. That’s just silly and unreasonable, it’s not honest, and it doesn’t look pretty. So just compliment away, and when it’s your time to care about someone who is pregnant, you will be an incredible pro at making them feel adequate, confident and encouraged.
That’s the culture we should be creating around pregnancy, anyway. We’re moms. We stick together. We help each other.
And we’re fearless. Together.