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Advice | Carolyn Hax: Expecting a Baby and Fearing Husband’s Input on Weight

Dear Carolyn: My husband and I are expecting our first child in February. After some shopping around, I finally have a doctor I like and feel less concerned about various health issues I’ve had before and during this pregnancy.

My husband asks about the details of my appointments and I find myself snapping shut instinctively. I don’t want to tell him how much I’ve gained or what the doctor recommends about diet or lifestyle. I’m not doing anything ‘wrong’, I just don’t want to be checked, even lightly. And my husband isn’t the boss, but he IS a relative health nut.

He feels left out if I don’t tell him how my appointments went, but I feel a strong sense of privacy around them. Is that weird? Can I keep midwifery appointments private for my husband?

Assuming: “Law enforcement”? “Allowed”? What the what. There is no “health” in unsolicited commentary on a pregnant spouse’s weight gain or diet, just “nut”.

And withholding appointment details from your husband may technically be your prerogative, since it’s your body and your business, but 1. If there’s a police problem, then withholding only postpones your reckoning with that illness, and 2. If there’s no police problem, then you exclude your man from one of the most exciting and intimate experiences in life for reasons he may not understand.

Let’s make a backup. The weigh-in and diet suggestions just aren’t the bits of OB appointments that say, “Share me!” at least not for someone without an unhealthy preoccupation with the mother’s body. (That could be the mother herself, by the way.)

I speak from experience here. All shared or shareable appointment details were about health and progress and any concerns noted. My weight was between me and my midwife and the eyes of any onlooker, so anyone who had given a flying Fig Newton about the actual number would have gotten nothing from me except my involuntary slack-jaw what’s-wrong-with-you- face.

I’d say anyone who notices my food choices has also taken their life into their own hands, but it’s all pure speculation because no one asked. Because seriously, who does that? If I had serious health problems, I would have authorized my people to ask.

So what I want to know – and you need to know, in the direction of your own emotional health – is the source of your reflexive suppression. Do you shrink from something from your past, or from your current partner? Who has dealt with your body so drastically that trust is no longer an option?

You are not the elephant in this room. It’s what you respond to. If it’s your man, get yourself into counseling, just you, stat. If there is history here and your husband’s health consciousness is wrecking it all, please explore that in counseling with him.

Either way, and especially if counseling isn’t feasible, discuss it with your midwife. Acknowledge it and please treat it, because your well-being has already been dented and your child’s will before you know it. Growing up amid parental tensions around food and body image leaves a trail that is uniquely difficult to erase.

Your husband, meanwhile, either needs help he’s not getting for a police or control problem that’s (rightly) costing him his family, or he needs help understanding your history so he can be a better partner in his own integration. I’m sorry this happened to you. But it’s important, and it won’t go away on your due date, so put it on your plate now.

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