'It feels like the moment you do get pregnant, then you lose your body's autonomy. People start touching you and everybody has an opinion on everything.'
Editor's note: This article was originally published on July 29, 2021. It has since been updated.
When talking about pregnancy and the miracle of childbirth, there's one aspect of the whole thing that everyone seems to conveniently leave out: a person's body autonomy flies out the window the moment they get pregnant. "I've discovered that if you want unsolicited advice, then you should get pregnant," Jaclene Paolucci, a mom, told BBC. "It feels like the moment you do get pregnant, then you lose your body's autonomy. People start touching you and everybody has an opinion on how you should act, what you should wear - everything. The only people who should be able to do that should be you and your doctor."
A few years ago, Paolucci took to Twitter to share how she countered an unsolicited adviser while ordering her regular latte at a Starbucks in New York. In a testament to how widespread this annoying practice is, the tweet garnered over 621.5k likes and has been retweeted more than 67.7k times. Here's the tweet:
(I am 6 months pregnant)— Jax ⚡️Philosopher Queen (@Diamond_Jax) August 2, 2019
Me after ordering my coffee:
Stranger at Starbucks: you know you should be drinking decaf when you’re pregnant.
Me: I’m... not pregnant.
Stranger: (horrified) I am so, so sorry!
And that’s what you get for giving unsolicited advice.
"What if I hadn't been pregnant? And there are many postpartum women who find it hard to get rid of their bellies. Comments like this can be hurtful so unless someone is having a baby in front of you, you shouldn't get involved," Paolucci said. "People feel entitled and your body becomes a community body. We're in an exciting but scary time and there's so much information out there that can often be contradictory. However, I trust my body and I will make the best decisions for it. What I did find interesting, though, was after I tweeted, many of those who disagreed with my stance were men."
Here are 22 times when people pulled a Paolucci and dealt with unsolicited pregnancy/parenting advice with sass:
Once when I was pregnant, I was drinking Coke in a restaurant and a bystander felt the need to comment. I responded “It’s the only thing that helps my hangover.”— Library Lady (@hot4mysoldier) August 3, 2019
My son is 20, when we're together many people tell me I don't look old enough... So we play a game;— Corrina, *mature student* my shiny metal... (@JuicyCorriander) August 2, 2019
Me: I wasn't, and it brought great shame to the family, thanks for bringing it up.
Son: Are you ever going to tell me which one in that photo is my dad?
The faces are priceless!
I had a woman next to me in line for a movie ask me about my birth plan. I politely told her she was not part of my plan.— EES (@IIEESEEII) August 2, 2019
My sister is hilarious. When she was pregnant, and people got in her face about the baby she would say, “Want to feel a kick?” And as they reached for her belly, she would kick them in the shin. Thanks @StephanieiKay this tweet reminded me of that. :)— dave hoffer (he/him) (@mcrate_s) August 3, 2019
23 yrs ago, very pregnant, overdue, August in Texas. Strange woman rubs my belly w/o asking permission. I told her I wasn't pregnant, she's rubbing a hernia. I still see look on her face as she recoiled 🤣🤣🤣🤣— Carla (@FlamingTornado1) August 3, 2019
Once told a nosy colleague who said I shouldn't be drinking coffee that he shouldn't be practicing medicine without a license but here we both were.— Allison Hantschel (@Athenae) August 2, 2019
When I was very pregnant with #2, I ordered a drink at Starbucks.— Marg (@margempke) August 3, 2019
Barista: Decaf, right?
Me: What’s an ob/gyn doing working here?
Barista: I’m not an ob/gyn.
I was minding my own business enjoying my one cup of coffee that I had a day and a woman stopped me and said I hope there's not coffee in there in you condition, I told it was vodka and watched her face drop— jumbajuicy (@protectSaka) August 3, 2019
Stranger every time I bought formula: You know breastfeeding is the healthiest option for your baby.— Ilene C. Asuncion ➰ (@ilenecas) August 2, 2019
Me: Really? So you think it would be healthier for me to feed my baby barbiturates? (I’m epileptic)
Stranger-blank stare open mouth
Someone asked me if my newborn was mine as I was nursing. I told them I found the baby in the clearance bin and took it home. The look I got was priceless. 🤣🤣🤣🤣— Linda S (@queenlsteiner) August 3, 2019
I was 5 days overdue and it was my 30th birthday. Begged for and went out for sushi. Waitress side-eyed me and I said “Honey, this baby is cooked and could come anytime. The sooner you bring me some damn sushi, the less chance it’s born in your bathroom.” Husband high five.— TJ Mansell (@TjMansell) August 2, 2019
It gets worse when the baby arrives. I slapped a woman's hand when she reached into the cart. I had a NICU graduate. I was not interested in strange people trying to touch my kid during flu season.— Melanie #FlipItBlue (@CheesyBread9) August 3, 2019
Not on anywhere near the same level, but...— Steve Turnbull (@adaddinsane) August 3, 2019
Random person: "What are you hoping for?"
Us (looking suddenly worried): "A baby?"
A cashier at Walmart made a fuss when I was 8 mos pregnant over me picking up a 24pk of beer for my husband at the time. I found her manager and made a Karen level fuss about it. All because I wasn't wearing a wedding ring... What pregnant woman can still wear a ring?! Lol!— Hera Caine (@Hera_Caine) August 3, 2019
When I worked retail and wore empire waist dresses, I got asked a lot about how far along I was.— Alex Palombo (@AlexPalombo) August 2, 2019
"I'm...I can't have kids," I'd reply quietly, and look away.
The rest of the transaction would be in silence.
I can have kids but that's not the fucking point. Good on you.
I was pushing a cart with my baby twins through the grocery store when some stranger asked if they were “natural or if I bought them.” Without slowing my cart I said “oh, they’re on buy one, get one free on aisle 8”— Bonnie Bruce, vaccinated (@BonnieBruce) August 3, 2019
A male coworker once said to me as I was eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries, You should eat something healthy, like a salad. I was vegetarian up until my 6th month, I literally hadn’t had McDs in 15+ years. I looked at him as I shoved it in my mouth and said SHUT UP ERIC— Lauren Zboralski (@lttlovelylauren) August 4, 2019
Me drinking a small glass of wine while 8 months pregnant— LegallyMom (@MomLegally) August 2, 2019
Stranger: Should you be drinking that?
Me: No, but my parole officer never comes in here.
As a new father carrying my crying child in public, invariably I’d get people coming up to me and telling me what was wrong: hungry, tired, etc. a— James Davison (@jsdaviso) August 3, 2019
I’d respond that she was fine, just upset about [current news item]. Worth it just for the blank stares.
If you want to be really horrible, look at them with the same face then say "Oh thanks for reminding me!" then pop out a tic tac or some other harmless food item that looks pill like, pop it in front of them then say "Almost forgot to take care of that little issue" 😂— Ryan (@RRaven85) August 2, 2019
One son is a POC, one is white. V close in age. When they were babies, this:— Dr. Deborah Bowen (@DisneyDeborah) August 2, 2019
Mall sample lady: Are they twins?
MSL: Well, it can happen if you’re with more than one man on the same night.
Me: Thank you for thinking I’m way more interesting than I really am. pic.twitter.com/RyX35MSeFm