Because men have had outsized influence on the language everyone uses, many phrases we use to describe pregnancy focus on less flattering things men have seen when looking at pregnant women. Rather than exalting this state of being, many emphasize “the limitations of the condition, this condition we feel the need to manage and police and define for people,” says Angela Garbes, author of Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy.
For example: Many of the words I found evoked the same spirit as knocked up, the objectifying viewpoint that a pregnant woman is damaged, lacking freedom or failing. These include phrases like banged up and jacked up, as well as descriptions like in a fix, up a tree and shot in the tail; figures of speech like she’s out of circulation and she’s gone and done it; as well as the more succinct bound, sewed up and poisoned.
Others feel into the euphemism category (in a certain condition, that way), suggesting that pregnancy’s defining feature is being an embarrassment. More still — like in a delicate condition and going to be confined — painted pregnancy primarily as a disability. And a long list focused on the fact that a woman is getting larger, in ways that seem less like a celebration of growth than the product of men scrutinizing women’s bodies. These include pooching out, gonna pop, as big as a barrel, getting broad in the hips, filling out her clothes and lumpy.