"Friendly reminder that it’s not okay to tell a pregnant woman about your birth trauma/horror story unless she asks," Bekah Martinez, a recent Bachelor star on Arie's season, tweeted. She makes an interesting point — and many other pregnant women on Twitter concur.
In September, Martinez, 23, and boyfriend Grayston Leonard announced that they're expecting a baby, according to People. Martinez is expecting her baby this month, calling her pregnancy “legitimately a dream come true” and explaining that motherhood “is the one thing that [she's] known with certainty for so long," according to PureWow. She added, "I’ve gone back and forth on the idea of marriage and relationships, but I’ve always felt sure that I want to be a mom.”
She's been honest throughout her journey to motherhood. In an Instagram story post on Tuesday, January 2, she shared a selfie with teary eyes, blaming pregnancy hormones, according to Us Weekly. The image was captioned: “Lil Rudolph over here. I’ve officially fallen victim to the pregnancy hormones. Having a hard time dealing with the anxiety of leaving my parents home and going back to LA (even though it’s only been a week). I just want to be near my mom and dad and family and familiar childhood places.”
But while Martinez has been open about her personal experience, she's not asking for all the pregnancy horror stories some women have shared with her. Stories of trauma can be anxiety-inducing for pregnant women, and added stress, of course, isn't healthy.
Other moms are chiming in to support the mom-to-be.
"Why do people do that?! Especially to first time moms! All you need to know is that you've got this. Final stretch!," wrote @JulesFromMA.
"I have 5 children. I was a labor and delivery nurse for 12-13 years. Every pregnancy, every labor, every delivery, every child is different and wonderful. I abhor hearing women telling a first-time pregnant mama "how it's going to be." Your body. Your baby. Your experience," chimed in @jenrninohio.
And some shared happy, easy birth stories to quell her fears.
"A very nice birth story for you: when I was born, my mom was in labor for like an hour and only had to push for like five minutes. Also, I came exactly on my due date. And she didn't need any stitches. Not to brag or anything, but hopefully your baby is just like me," wrote @magically_madie.
Martinez isn't alone in not wanting to hear others' unsolicited horror stories.
The fear of childbirth plagues as many as one in 10 women — it's a fear that's known as Tocophobia. For some women, the phobia surrounding childbirth is so great that they request a Caesarian or, in severe cases, ask for a termination because their fear of pregnancy and birth are too difficult to contemplate.
The added stress of fearing birth could manifest physically, and actually have harmful effects, as well. For one, some studies suggest that high levels of stress in pregnancy can lead to problems during childhood, such as stalled brain development, a slower immune system or trouble paying attention. Stress can also increase the chances of having a premature baby (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy) or a low-birthweight baby (weighing less than 5 and a half pounds). For mothers, stress can lead to a more troubling birth, which, in turn, can lead to postpartum depression.
For Martinez' sake — and for the sake of pregnant women everywhere — let's spread more optimism.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.