It seems that people just can’t stop themselves from handing out unsolicited opinions when faced with a mom-to-be. When Jane Helpern was seven-and-a-half months pregnant, she went to her salon for a root touch-up only to be admonished by a colourist.
“I headed to the salon where I’d been reliably receiving peroxide-based ego boosts for the last five years,” she writes in an essay in Allure. “You can imagine my rage when I was greeted by a man confessing that in all his years of experience he’d never seen a pregnant woman bleach her roots before and that I really must ‘not give a fu*k’ (about the life and health of my fetus, ostensibly).”
Helpern goes on to point out that according to the Mayo Clinic (and her own OB/GYN), hair dye has been proven to be safe for pregnant women to use.
“Most researchers say it’s unlikely that maternal use of hair products before or during pregnancy would increase the risk of childhood tumours,” the Mayo Clinic website states.
According to the journal of the College of Family Physicians of Canada: “There is no evidence of teratogenic effects for pregnant women exposed to these products from occupational use (i.e., hairdressing). Evidence suggests there is minimal systemic absorption of hair products, so personal use by pregnant women three to four times throughout pregnancy is not considered to be of concern.”
Dr. Kristin Finkenzeller, associate professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Queen’s University, told Global News: “There is no evidence of an increased risk of birth defects, miscarriage or other common pregnancy concerns in both pregnant women who work in hair salons and in pregnant women who dye their hair occasionally during pregnancy.”
This story joins a litany of tales of women being shamed for engaging in everyday tasks while pregnant.
Australian fitness blogger and model, Sophie Guidolin, was shamed for what was perceived as carrying out strenuous workouts, especially weight lifting, during her pregnancy in 2016. And most of it came from men.
“I had a man comment on my Facebook page saying that what I was lifting was considerably heavy — but considerably heavy to who? Him? My son is 29 kilos [64 lbs.] — if he falls asleep somewhere, I have to carry him,” she said to the Daily Mail.
“There were people saying I’m going to have a prolapse [gynecological hernia], but it’s no different to if I bent down to pick up the groceries.”
Similarly, Alison Whitehouse, a London-based woman who writes the Actively Balanced blog, said she was chastised for working out when she was visibly pregnant.
“Someone in the gym said to me: ‘Do you know what you’re doing? Don’t you think you’re too big to work out?’” she said to HuffPost U.K. “The ‘advice’ I heard ranged from: ‘Do you think you should be doing that,’ ‘Just be careful,’ and even ‘I don’t think you should be doing that anymore.’”
Another Sydney-area woman said she was flat-out denied a cup of coffee at a local café. At 27 weeks, Alexandra Smith, education editor at The Sydney Morning Herald, was eager to get her hands on an espresso after fasting for a series of routine blood tests, but the barista had a hard stance on her choice.
“‘No,’ he responded motioning towards my belly. ‘No caffeine for you,'” she wrote in an essay in the newspaper.
The barista then gave her two options: a decaf or a flat white. She opted for the latter.
“Of course, I should have protested or simply walked off but I can only assume I was wracked by mother guilt. My decision to inflict caffeine on my unborn child had been criticised by a stranger,” she mused.
Unfortunately, that’s the crux of the problem for most pregnant women — not only are they irritated that they’re being unfairly judged, but the comments also give them pause and make them question everyday decisions that they know are safe and have often been vetted by their physicians.
To this, Helpern has a sage piece of (admittedly, unsolicited) advice for everyone:
“If you know or happen to encounter a pregnant lady, please keep your opinions to yourself and trust that she knows what’s best for her body and her baby. Let her have that four-ounce glass of wine and soft cheese plate in peace. Chances are she’s done her research. But more importantly: it’s none of your business.”