Expecting a baby is a new and exciting experience, but often times friends, family and even strangers can say (or do) things that offend or scare a pregnant woman. Of course, most people have the best of intentions – but it’s important to remember that pregnant women feel much more sensitive and protective than they might normally, so it’s polite to remain courteous to that fact. To support any mums-to-be in your life with my tips below on what NOT to say or do around a pregnant woman – of course every woman is different, but these are just my two cents!
Please don’t tell me the worst is yet to come.
Morning sickness is horrible (um, can they re-name this ‘24/7 sickness’?), but what makes it worse is having close friends or even strangers tell me that the worst is still to come. It’s about as helpful as telling someone waiting for an operation that the worst is yet to come, which is not very helpful at all! The same goes for the second trimester: a fitness trainer told me I was in the ‘honeymoon period’ yesterday, which although I’m sure she meant to be reassuring, just made me feel worse! Pregnancy can be amazing, but it’s certainly no honeymoon! Instead, it’s so much kinder to remind someone that nothing lasts forever and that whatever symptoms they are dealing with aren’t permanent – and that they’re all worth it in the end.
Please save your birthing horror story until after I’ve had the baby.
As soon as I tell people I’m expecting, I almost immediately learn that their best friend’s cousin’s hair stylist had serious birthing complications, and I’m presented with a lengthy horror story about their experience. A different fitness trainer (what is it with fitness trainers, LOL?!) told me his wife’s birth was so terrifying and dangerous, she nearly died and at one point he wondered if they should just abort the baby. Charming! Thank you for that! While sharing experiences after a woman has given birth may be something many people choose to do because they can empathize with one another, doing this when someone is still expecting can only add to fear anxiety. It may be tempting to share, but it can be terrifying for a mummy-to-be to have so many horror stories swirling around in their head.
Please don’t tell me what is and isn’t safe to eat or do
Everyone has a slightly different list of things they completely ward off while pregnant. If you happen to see someone eating something or planning to do something you would never do, like eating sushi, getting an epidural, or attempting a water birth – just tell them that what they are eating looks yummy, or that you think it’s great they have come to a decision about how they want to have their baby. I am relishing in my weekly glass of red wine, which my doctor has told me is perfectly fine to drink. It makes me happy and relaxed and I nurse that glass for at least an hour! Last week, a friend who isn’t a mummy herself turned her nose up at me for drinking it. I smiled and avoided the confrontation – but honestly, it drove me crazy! It’s so much kinder just to be supportive and trust that each pregnant lady will make informed, personal choices, rather than making her question her every move.
Please ask before touching my bump.
Wait, scrap that, just don’t touch it at all! The touching the bump party is an invite-only event for best friends and family! Many women are happy to let friends touch their bumps, but it’s polite to ask because not everyone is comfortable with having people touch their body (and I’m one of those peeps). Imagine if I just went around touching random people’s thighs or boobs or stomachs?! The other evening at a charity event, a girl I had just been introduced to stretched out both her hands and began to cradle and rub my entire stomach. I backed off faster than you can say fashion faux-pas! So – always ask first, or just don’t ask at all. If a mum-to-be feels their baby kicking and is happy to let you touch their bump, they will usually ask you if you would like to feel it anyway.
Please don’t ask us if it was planned.
This one seems like common sense because it’s so nosy and intrusive, but it’s amazing how many people think it is ok to ask if your pregnancy was planned or a little accident. Funnily enough nobody has asked Mackenzie and I this specifically, but I’ve got so many close friends who went through emotional and turbulent hoops to finally get their baby – from multiple IVF rounds and miscarriages to rollercoaster adoption and surrogate processes – it’s better to be as sensitive. It might be easy to forget that pregnancy is not a community endeavor and some things are private.
Please don’t ask me how I will work when the baby arrives.
For a woman, this is the epitome of loaded questions and most of them will answer defensively, regardless of how you intended the question. People always ask women who work if they will go back to their full-time jobs after the baby is born, and when. It’s such a personal choice whether you choose to become a stay at home mom, or whether you choose to carry on working. If she readily shares the information with you, then try to understand that her decision is her own and all you can do is support that. For me, running my own business with my husband has huge benefits but also drawbacks – there will be no official maternity or paternity leave, and probably no more than a few days off social media. But at the same time, we are lucky enough to work from home most days and often our schedule is flexible. There is no set rulebook on being working parents, and no doubt we will figure it out ourselves, step by step.
Please don’t comment on my size – or ask me if I’m having twins!
Near the end of a pregnancy, many women have friends, and even strangers, telling them that ‘it could be twins’ and asking ‘are you sure there’s only one in there?’. This can be so hurtful to someone who is already pretty physically uncomfortable at that stage of their pregnancy. If someone’s bump looks a little bit bigger, they may be self-conscious anyway, so it’s best to just tell them that they have a lovely bump! The same goes for telling someone they look really small. At 6 months along, I’ve had many kind compliments about the way I look, and most tend to say I’m carrying small. Now, I totally accept this is meant with kindness, but it actually made me worry until the doctor told us recently that our baby is actually bigger than the average, which is a good thing! Everyone carries weight differently and everybody carries their baby slightly differently too.
What do you guys think? Were there any questions or comments that drove you nuts when you were pregnant? What are your own pregnancy etiquette rules? Tell me in the comments below!
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