Monday, October 02, 2006

The Bump

Am I the only person out there who is rubbed the wrong way by current references to pregnant bellies as "bumps?"

I have had a hard time putting my finger on why I don't like the reference.. At first I thought it was because the worst offenders are celebrity headlines. Apparently it's cuter to ask whether we see a bump on Reese Witherspoon than to ask could she be pregnant.

After more thought today (waiting for the bus, which was late, in the rain) I came up with two plausible explanations for my reaction:

1. Bump is an ugly word. What do we usually associate with "bump?" Speed Bump. Traffic bump. Bump your head/arm/knee. In fact, it's not a far stretch to associate bump with knock as in "knocked up."

2. Pregnant women are infantilized enough without calling the amazing process they're fueling a "bump." After having our first two pregnancies under the care of an OB, we had our third with a nurse midwife practice. At the end of one of my checkups the midwife said, "All looks good. Go ahead and schedule another visit for a month from now." Using the phrase familiar to me from my previous pregnancies I asked, "for a tummy check?" She bristled. "You are a woman, not a two-year old. This is your uterus, not your tummy."

Calling a pregnant woman's belly a "bump" trivializes what is happening inside it. It turns the in-your-face sexuality of a swelling, fertile woman into a mere bump.

Perhaps the good news in all this is that the search for "bumps" is realtively easy. Pregnant women are wearing tight-fitting shirts, sheer dresses, even bikinis. We are no longer hiding our swelling abdomens behind ruffles and baggy smocks.

Now we just need to insist that pregnant bellies be called a beautiful, powerful word. How about...pregnant?

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Blogger portuguesa nova said...

My OB at U of M treats our visits like we're performing in the in-between-song portions of a cheesy Broadway musical.

Not only does he treat me like a baby, but he even treats my baby too much like a baby for my comfort level. I think some of it is that he has an aversion to pronouns, and that he's a bit too jaunty for his own good. i.e.:

"So, how's our glowing mommy today?"

"What you're feeling down there in your tummy (tummy! there it is again!) is perfectly normal! Normal, normal, normal!" [never an explanation of what it is I'm feeling down there in my tummy]

"Let's check these little feet of yours for any of that pesky, puffy swelling."

It is very bizarre, as surely perpetuating the human race is the least childish thing one could ever do. I'm curious to know what his protocol is going to be during the actual labor when I will be in far too much pain to be all fake silly and giggly back to him.

9:46 AM  
Blogger doulicia said...

Portuguesa Nova: Wow!

Have you considered changing practices? The UM Nurse Midwives are excellent. And cognizant of your status as a mature, sexual woman.

Of course, most of the doctors are, too. So it may be a matter of just switching caregivers.

If the guy isn't comfortable with your giver-of-life status in an office visit, I doubt he's going to support an empowered birth.

Just my two cents! Women switch providers more often than you'd think. If you feel it is right for you and your baby, you need not let feelings of loyalty or guilt keep you from it. Your care providers are endebted to you, not the other way around.

[I hope I haven't scared you from posting ever again! I just wanted to make sure you knew it was an option!]

11:40 AM  
Blogger doulicia said...

p.s. Dropping the F-bomb on him a few times in labor might sober him up on his "glowing mommy"'s true status!

11:41 AM  
Blogger cooler*doula said...

Ha. Too funny. Love your midwife's comment, Doulicia. As for the 'glowing mommy' stuff, potuguesa nova... Oy.

Calling it a 'bump'... Yes - both infantilizes it AND allows society to forget that here is incontrovertible evidence that this person has had sex, well, at least ONCE.
I think the greatest shock in moving to the states for me has been how INCREDIBLY prudish this nation is as a whole. At least - when other people are looking... if you know what I mean.

11:52 AM  
Blogger mm said...

Okay, had to take a day or two and compile a cohesive response.
I inwardly howl with horror at the headlines of "bump" alerts and such. On a different level though.
Mostly because I know that mostly they are on women who have had c/s's and the fact of the matter is... they CUT THROUGH YOUR ABDOMEN!!!! And there are muscles and tissue and that amazing uterus that are, to use my first and last doctors' words "damaged". It is incredibly hard with out a lot of money and willpower and effort to get your abdomen back to normal. I know a woman who had a c/s fourteen years ago and still does not have any sensation from her navel to pubic bone.
ahem... sorry, I had planned on being professional and brief in my comment.
I whole heartedly agree with your comment, it is almost demeaning. I'm not sure about south of the boarder, but here there are signs on our highways...
Bump on the road.
I've yet to see a pregnant woman on the road... Think I'll get a photo next time I see the sign =)
Now on to the c/s post... ahh I'm in heaven.

8:25 PM  
Blogger I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

I agree. I saw a gal with a "Goddess with a bump" shirt the other day. I personally would wear "...yes, I am with child..."


10:03 PM  
Blogger mj said...

Chiming in late here. What bugs me about 'bump' is not that the word itself is ugly. No, what bothers me is that, especially in the celebrity-baby arena, 'bump' comes across like some sort of super-cute fashion accessory. The accessory for the woman who already has every other accessory! And an accessory that can itself later be accessorized (via diamond-encrusted bibs, $8,000 strollers and the whatnot)! In addition, I think that the obsession with "cute celebrity bumps" and the new tight-fitting maternity-clothes craze has somehow objectified women more than ever. My thoughts are a bit confused here, so please bear with me. I'm all for women reveling in and showing off their beautiful pregnant bodies as much as they like. It's just that there's something about the tenor of the 'bump coverage' in the media, this voyeuristic gauging of continued or now-lacking sexiness of the 'media targets' even during pregnancy, that leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.

I also agree (and am annoyed) that 'bump' is infantilizing. I remember a friend in grad school telling me how offended she was that a doctor she saw told her she could "put [her] panties back on." She was livid about his use of 'panties.' I didn't get it then but I do now. It's condescending and somehow inappropiately intimate both.

8:06 PM  

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