My feed

to access all these features

Feminism: Sex and gender discussions

"Pregnancy hormones" .... GRRrrrrrrr

23 replies

mathanxiety · 12/06/2010 18:13

I've noticed a lot of women, especially on Baby Naming threads, but elsewhere here on MN too, essentially apologising for having an opinion, or a strong opinion, or for taking offence at rudeness, while pregnant, by putting it down to alleged pregnancy hormones.

Does anyone have any idea what this is all about? Is it something akin to 'old wives tales' about menstruating women turning milk sour, some sort of distrust of women while they are at their most powerful that women have taken on board and are now repeating themselves? Why is it ok for women to put themselves and their critical faculties down like this?

I have to say, I've only noticed this in the UK too. You'd be kicked out of the sisterhood if you went around playing dumb and 'hormonal' like this in the US.

OP posts:
StewieGriffinsMom · 12/06/2010 18:15

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn

hazeyjane · 12/06/2010 18:17

Well I think usually people say it as a joke, but tbh I do tend to be touchier, less patient and generally over sensitive when I am pregnant, and pre menstrual. Hormones do effect mood.

BuckBuckMcFate · 12/06/2010 18:22

I have to disagree to a certain extent re the 'baby brain'. I am pg with DC4 and part of my job involves working with figures. I have noticed that I can look at the figures and see that they are wrong but can't for the life of me work out why they are wrong. it's very frustrating! And I cannot remember names or procedures at work that I have carried out hundreds of times.

hazeyjane · 12/06/2010 18:23

Sorry, should be 'affect' mood.

I guess the difference is that men, don't tend to say, 'Gosh, sorry for being so touchy, it's just that after that football game, my testosterone is raging!'

MavisG · 12/06/2010 18:24

This is one of the things I found difficult about being pregnant: despite sleeping 12 hours a night I did find my brain affected: my vocabulary decreased enormously, for example, and yet I couldn't talk about it (at work) in case I fuelled any latent misogyny.

Once, someone else dared to mention 'baby brain' in a meeting and I squished her, but it was a great big elephant in the room (I worked at a v right-on place): I was running a massive project and my ability to do so took a hefty nose-dive. I managed it by promoting a very able team member and telling my manager how things were, but he was not sexist so I felt able to do this.

It's not letting down the sisterhood to experience this.

mathanxiety · 12/06/2010 19:14

I think what I was getting at was the apologies implied for having opinions or strong feelings, though -- there's definitely an energy/ nutrient drain and a change in the metabolism that diverts everything first to the baby. However, men have hormones too, as Hazeyjane points out, and they certainly have an effect on male behaviour.

Motherhood, and the ability to become a mother, is a very important part of female identity for many. I think by allowing ourselves to distrust our emotions during pregnancy we seek to minimise some threat we pose in a subtle way -- are we afraid of our own power?

How do women manage to perform their jobs as barristers or doctors or teachers or members of the clergy during pregnancy if their hormones are getting in the way of rationality and reason so much? Or are rationality and reason overvalued and ascribed more to men than to women, while intuition and emotion are ascribed more to women and therefore need to be kept in check and doubted?

OP posts:
ImSoNotTelling · 12/06/2010 20:30

ROFL hazeyjane had to read that out to DH very good

ImSoNotTelling · 12/06/2010 20:43

I think that it can be hard to concentrate at work when you are pregnant as you have a lot on your mind. I read somewhere (!) that women's brains undergo a certain amount of rewiring while they are pg to sort of get them ready for the baby. Apparently rather than post baby "baby brain", women actually end up cleverer after their children.

This is all random stuff I have read, of course I can't cite if it is peer reviewed or where I saw it or anything!

I certainly found when pregnant that it was much harder to concentrate on things, remember what I was doing and I was tired and/or miserable a lot of the time.

I haven't heard anyone say that pregnancy has made them stupid or incompetant though.

ImSoNotTelling · 12/06/2010 21:19

I am sure you have a point with this here math, but I am too tired and full of cold/hayfever to be able to give it proper consideration. My brain feels all foggy.

MarineIguana · 12/06/2010 21:31

I do think you have a point. It has been during pregnancy that I've really stood up to certain family members and decided not to take any more of their shit, and that was because my feelings were stronger than normal. But, they were behaving badly and I did need to be more assertive, so it helped - however it is also true that pg hormones can make you very emotional/angry about nothing much at all.

Someone I once knew, while pg, screamed at her DH for some very minor crime of backseat driving while she was at the wheel and made him get out and walk! It was out of character, he really did not deserve it and she did blame pg hormones and apologised and I think that was right of her. I've done the same when I've been grouchy at DP. And come to think of it, my DP gets migraines and can be a right grumpy git when he has a bad one. He apologises and puts it down to how he's feeling, and it can be similar with pregnancy. Same goes for teenagers and 5yo boys, doesn't it?

It's bad if anyone uses the "pg hormones" line as an excuse for not taking a woman seriously when she has a valid gripe. But I also think it's fine to put odd behaviour down to hormones if it's true.

ILoveDolly · 12/06/2010 21:35

I think that the hormones make you a bit more impulsive or short tempered, ie likely to speak your mind rather than put up. I was recently annoyed by someone who told me that it was amazing that I'd passed my driving test while I was preganant. Actually I was probably a better driver then because I was super conscious that I wanted to drive safely and well. Now I'm just zooming around with a screaming child in the back risking life and limb!!
The 'it's hormones' thing never fails to wind me up.

anastaisia · 13/06/2010 10:52

Hormones in pregnancy do physiologically alter the brain, actually increasing the size of part of it.

Memory and concentration can sometimes be affected because the brain becomes better at learning and retaining new behaviours, which of course can be help when the baby is born.

SweetDreamerGirl · 13/06/2010 14:21

I too found my memory affected during pregnancy. I kept quiet about it though, and hoped nobody noticed. I reckon I got away with it. Just as well, because I'm not sure I'd want to be "squished" by MavisG.

Sakura · 14/06/2010 08:58

I kept scratching my car when I was pregnant . I also get ante-natal depression not PND! I'm not sure if that's hormonal- I reckon it's to do with terrible morning sickness for 4 months, a ballooning midrift, not being able to get sloshed, and the impending 12 hours or so of excruciating agony at the end of it all.
Your mind is definitely different though when pregnant. That's a good thing. It helps you respond to your baby's needs.

MavisG · 17/06/2010 07:54

Hello again,

I've been thinking about this the last few days, and it strikes me that the expectation that people have constant personalities/abilities/dispositions, throughout the month or stage of life like pregnancy or menopause - it's a symptom of the patriarchy. Men's hormones fluctuate but not in the same way, and the male model is what we view as 'professional', acceptable.

I have moved from employment to self-employment and find that now, deadlines allowing, I work when I want to, when I feel like it. I haven't taken a huge amount of notice yet, but think that the amount I do varies with my hormone levels as well as with other stuff (how interesting the project is is the main factor. My current one's a bit dull, hence my wittering on on here).

In a matriarchal society it would be safe to accept that for some women, hormones related to pregnancy and/or menstruation affect (not necessarily negatively) what they are most able to do, or the way in which they do it, some of the time. 'Pregnancy hormones' would not have the belittling connotation they do currently. It would be a neutral term and women would be believed when they said they weren't affected.

(SweetDreamerGirl, just to clarify, I only squished her because she was talking about me - my 'baby brain' - I wouldn't have done it had she been talking about herself.)

mathanxiety · 23/06/2010 23:12

Yes, Mavis, that's the hunch I had, that women's hormones tend to be viewed as a negative, even by women. I think we do accept the male model of what is acceptable/ professional, and pregnancy is so obviously not male it marginalises women more than it should in the average workplace.

OP posts:
pointissima · 25/06/2010 09:12

I agree with MavisG. Women have been allowed to join in with the men at work etc. provided we do so within male rules, which means, for instance, a "straight line" upward diagonal career path with no downtime for reproductive or family purposes AND an expectation of male behaviour- this does not mean that being "hormonal" is unacceptable: it means that being visibly driven by oestrogen or progesterone is unacceptable. All those male surges of aggression, egotism, bastardry etc driven by testosterone are not just seen as acceptable but as essential to the whole business of effective mammoth hunting.

Ironically, I find that being a bit pre-menstrual helps me behave in the expected manner!

The female comment which really irritates me is "oh, I'm having a blonde moment".

dittany · 25/06/2010 10:49

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sprogger · 25/06/2010 10:56

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Booboobedoo · 25/06/2010 11:14

'...are rationality and reason overvalued and ascribed more to men than to women, while intuition and emotion are ascribed more to women and therefore need to be kept in check and doubted?'

I have mixed feelings on this one.

I am certainly less reasonable and more irascible when I'm pregnant. I notice (like sprogger) that where normally I would be assertive and therefore achieve the outcome I want with minimal energy expenditure, I'm quickly overpowered by rage and expend huge ammounts of energy with mixed results.

This frustrates me, which just makes things worse.

Having practiced some CBT lately, I think that rather than being 'kept in check' emotions are actually over-emphasised in our society, and given too much credence. It seems to me to be part-and-parcel of the me-me-me culture in which our individual feelings are revered and Must Not Be Questioned.

OTOH, I think you're right that Emotional Reasoning is seen as a feminine trait and dismissed accordingly, but that view is erroneous, I think.

You only have to watch Big Brother to see a group of men insisting on having their feelings respcted whilst having an almost admirable disregard for everyone elses.

Having read this back, I obviously need to give this some more thought in order to come up with a point at the end!

Booboobedoo · 25/06/2010 11:14


ProfessorLaytonIsMyLoveSlave · 25/06/2010 11:23

When I'm pregnant my memory is definitely worse, and I crash the car (well, somewhere between small crashes and large scrapes) which I don't do while not pregnant. I don't know whether it's hormones or something else causing it, but I am more scatty and less coordinated. I'm not more touchy or irritable, though (well, I am in the first few weeks but that's because I feel like crap rather than specifically because I'm pregnant; I'm no more touchy or irritable than when I have a stomach bug normally). It's not something I'd mention at work, but it's something I notice in myself. Fortunately I am so brilliant normally that I reckon they are still getting their money's worth even when I'm functioning below par. And the fact that I'm like that doesn't mean that every pregnant woman is.


Don’t want to miss threads like this?


Sign up to our weekly round up and get all the best threads sent straight to your inbox!

Log in to update your newsletter preferences.

You've subscribed!

mookle · 25/06/2010 11:35

pointissima - I couldnt agree more about the "blonde moment" comment, that makes me rage.

And ROFL at booboobedoo and the Big Brother comment ha!

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.