Community Advocacy and Support by and for Young Mothers

pregnancy language

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katg's picture
Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: 2003-12-10 16:39
pregnancy language

This was written by Julie with input from the moms in the backroom.

Girlmom supports the rights of women to make whatever choice they want in regard to their pregnancies, be it adoption, abortion, coparenting, or deciding to continue the pregnancy and become parents. Girlmom is a pro-choice site in a world that isn't always respectful of our choices in regard to whether we decide to parent or not. In the past, anti-choice posters have used language to hurt women on this site who've chosen to have abortions. Likewise, there have been 'authoritarian adults' who want to deny young women's ability to make our own decisions about sex and reproduction. We want to be a safe place for young women to celebrate pregnancy and mothering, while simultaneously being a safe haven for all women who've chosen not to continue a pregnancy.

Sometimes anti-choice organizations use words like "unborn child" or "baby" to push their views onto us. Many girlmom members prefer to use the word "fetus" when discussing a pregnancy, in an attempt to reclaim our bodies and our choices. Many members feel that until birth, "fetus" is the most accurate word to describe a pregnancy.

Medical beliefs as well as GM beliefs clearly state that until you give birth, what you're carrying is a fetus, and not a child or a baby. We understand and accept if you respectfully use the term "baby" (but not unborn child) instead of fetus, when referring to what you're carrying. Hopefully you can judge for yourself when to use "fetus" or "baby" according to a context. Please remember GM is designed to EMPOWER women to choose whatever is best for their situation, without shame or judgement.

However, fetal personifications should not be used in any context as they're not accurate and not respectful of women who have chosen to not continue with their pregnancies. If you're referring to something your baby actually does, such as kicking, moving or hiccupping, it's fine to do so; but please don't start giving the baby human traits that it does not yet have, such as a craving for cheese, annoyance with you if you eat certain foods, or a love for rap music. Please keep conversations about what you think your baby will look like when the pregnancy ends off the boards as well.

If you are pregnant, be aware when describing your feelings about your pregnancy. Use language that respects our sisters' choices to terminate their pregnancies. That said, its great to be joyous and exuberant about your choice to give birth! We know that women who choose to have children before society has deemed it acceptable are often denied many of the joys and congratulations that some of our counterparts receive. We want Girlmom to be a place where you can celebrate the choices you've made and what your future holds. Girlmom alone may be the one place many young women can feel proud, unashamed, and optimistic, and we want all members to reap the benefits of such a positive and safe space.

For women who are mourning miscarriages, you will have support here, as well as help through the grieving process. In these cases, the term "baby" when referring to your miscarriage will be respected and accepted. Please understand though, that what ended was a pregnancy and what was lost is different than a born child, so saying things like you have children in heaven, calling it an "angel baby", or talking about what your baby would have liked or looked like, is disrespectful to women who have chosen to end their pregnancies.

If you feel triggered by language on this site, you can pm mod_squad, using the link to "messages" below the Girlmom banner on any page. Likewise, if you are uncertain whether language is acceptable or not, don't hesitate to PM a Site Admin or mod_squad.

If a member feels like a post contains anti-choice language, they are encouraged to respectfully remind the poster that Girlmom is a pro-choice site. The best approach to take is for one member to respond to the language and then PM mod_squad. Because Girlmom is also a place for unlearning, we ask that only one member respond calling out anti-choice language. A pro-choice, feminist space for teen mothers is very rare online, and many new members who are not intending to offend or spread anti-choice messages may be unaware of our site's policies. For this reason, we don't want a barrage of messages explaining why what they said was wrong. Following this approach will help make a new member who isn't intentionally offensive feel comfortable, and possibly contribute to her adopting pro-choice beliefs.

You are welcome to decide which terms you want to use in regard to your own pregnancy, but it is not okay to define other people's pregnancies for them. This means that in threads announcing a pregnancy, we should stick with technical terms so as not to affect or sway the woman in any way while she is in the often vulnerable and difficult position of making a choice in regard to that pregnancy. Other women who have chosen to continue pregnancies still do not feel comfortable with certain words, so it is best to follow each woman's lead, using with her whatever terms she uses herself. When in doubt, "fetus" is always better than "baby."

Maintaining a balance between supporting young mothers/young pregnant women, and women who have chosen or are considering abortions can be difficult. We appreciate your assistance in doing that and we hope you enjoy the time you spend here at Girlmom.