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Talking to Pregnant Women (and other dangerous ideas)

Talking to Pregnant Women (and other dangerous ideas)

So here is the thing…with 7+ billion people in the world, one might assume that we humans would have a handle on this whole ‘how to talk to pregnant women’ thing. Am I right? I mean, there are, have been, and will continue to be truckloads of women who spend a good 9 months of their lives preggers (it is really 10…but who is counting? That is a rhetorical question but since you asked, I will tell you who is counting…PREGNANT WOMEN! That is who!). With that many pregnant women in the world and in the age of easy access to books, blogs and websites that outline every type of social etiquette on the planet, you really would think we would have this one figured out. I’m here to tell you that we still have a LONG way to go people. Like Nile long. Like waiting for Christmas day when you are 5 years old long. Like some of my hashtags long.

So as a good decent citizen of this fine world, I shall do my part and help educate people on just what (and more importantly, what not) to say to pregnant women (or maybe just me).

The ‘No matter how tempted you are, just don’t say it’ comments:

1. “Are you pregnant?”

If you have to ask this question, than that is probably the best indication that you SHOULD NOT ask this question.  News flash: plenty of women are, in fact, NOT pregnant.  Some women are just chubby. Some ate too much for lunch. Some women have just given birth but may still look a little pregnant. And do you know what is worse than the actual act of giving birth? Someone asking you when you are due while breast milk is simultaneously leaking into your super non-flattering bra. Then there are those of us who look and actually are pregnant. However, if we have not directly told you the news, there is a good chance it is none of your business. The point is, you just don’t EVER ask.  Stop the madness.

2. “Wow. You’re huge.”

In some ways, this may even be a worse offense than point number 1.  Here’s why: no woman ever desires to be called ‘huge’. It is just a scientific fact*. And yet, for some reason, once you announce that you are pregnant, people think it is ok (even cute and funny) to do so. It does not matter the circumstances as to why you are ‘huge’ (Doritos, hypothyroidism, baby), you don’t need to be told that by other people. If you are, in fact ‘huge’, chances are, you already know it. And if you aren’t actually ‘huge’, now you think you are. Fantastic. Let’s add “looking huge” to the list of things that pregnant mamas are already worrying about. Believe it or not, even though it is perfectly natural to gain weight and get bigger when you are pregnant, it messes with your mind a bit. Your body is rapidly changing and there are all those fears that it will never be the same again. And if you are like me, you are also eating a lot of ice cream. So yeah, you are huge, and guess what? It is not ALL BABY. So thanks again for that! Love you too!

*okay, it is not technically a scientific fact, but I’m pretty sure that it might be one someday.

3. “When my sister had her baby, she was in labor for 30 hours”

I’m gonna keep this simple: please, I beg you, keep your birth/labor horror stories to yourself. If someone has not yet had a baby, they do not need to hear these. If you have already had a baby, you already know what you are in for and do not need to hear these.  If you have a birth/labor story that you are dying to tell, please tell it to your non-pregnant friends. And guess what? They probably don’t want to hear them either.

The ‘Innocent enough but can get dangerous super quick’ comments:

4. “Can I touch your belly?”

This seems polite, right? This is what you are supposed to say, no? But here is the thing. Why do you want to touch my belly?I don’t necessarily care, but it is just sorta weird. And if you ask someone who really doesn’t feel comfortable with belly-touching, now you have put them in the awkward position of saying “No. I would prefer if you did not touch my belly” ** Uncomfortable Silence ** If someone wants you to touch their belly, they will ask you to touch their belly.

Side note: just for fun, calculate how many times someone (anyone!) has asked you to touch their belly and assume this is the same number of people who actually want you touching their belly. I’m not great at math but my mental calculations come to about 0.

5. “Are you going to find out if it is a boy or a girl?”

You can ask this question but you must prepare yourself to hold your tongue upon hearing the pregnant woman’s response.  Which, based on personal experience, seems like an impossible request to ask of the human population. Like asking a dog to stop drooling when presented with a pig’s ear or asking me to spend less than $100 per Target visit. It usually goes down something like this:

Q: Are you going to find out if it is a boy or a girl?

A: No, we are going to wait and have it be a surprise.

Q: REALLY? Oh my gosh, I could never wait. Don’t you want to decorate the nursery or buy cute clothes? Yadda, yadda, yadda…

I promise you, whatever decision the pregnant person has made, they have thought long and hard about it.  They don’t need to know how you would do it. They don’t need to know that boys are the best or girls are the easiest or vice versa. Just ask and walk away.  Ask and walk away. Ask and walk away. Here is your template, should you decide to ask:

Q: Are you going to find out if it is a boy or a girl?

A: No, we are going to wait and have it be a surprise.

Your response: That’s awesome (use ‘brilliant’ if you are British)!  Insert genuine smile Have a great day! Walk away.

NO MATTER WHAT THEIR RESPONSE IS, YOU SAY: “That’s awesome” and walk away! YOU CAN DO IT!



6. “What names do you like?”

Oh…the name conversation. This is the hardest for me. For instance, my husband and I do have some names in mind that we like or that we are playing around with but we are NOT going to utter them aloud until that birth certificate is signed and sealed.  Not to our mamas, not to our best friends and definitely not to strangers. You know why? Because, once again, people cannot just ask and walk away.  In fact, I think it is a favorite pastime, rivaling baseball, cricket or any other national sport, to share your feelings about particular names (another word for this is ‘judging’). It is hard enough to find a name that you and your partner both like, better yet, love. And then in one tiny breath someone can just ruin it and squash it like a grape. “Oh I used to like that name but it has just gotten so trendy these days” or “Oh, interesting. Is that a family name?” As in, “that must be a family name because no one in their right mind would willingly name their child that”.  Again, just ask and walk away….

Or, on second thought, maybe just don’t ask.

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “Good grief. There are so many rules! Maybe I should just stop talking to pregnant women all together?” And maybe you should. That is not an entirely bad decision.  But should you choose to carry on talking to us, here are some ideas of what TO say.

The ‘If you can’t say any of the above, what CAN you say?’ comments:

1. “How are you feeling?”

This is a safe question and it shows you care. Pregnant women do go through some crazy physical and emotional stages and it is sometimes nice to just acknowledge those. However, if you ask this question you must be prepare yourself for the answer.  Pregnancy is not always (ever?) butterflies and berries.  A lot of the time it is vomiting and constipation. You’ve been warned.

2. “You look adorable”

Again people, this is not rocket science. In general, people like to be complimented. Pregnant women are people. Thus, pregnant people like to be complimented too. Complimenting a pregnant woman’s looks is particularly nice because 5 minutes ago someone just walked up to her and said “Wow. You’re huge”.

 3. Anything non-pregnancy related

Going with the whole pregnant-women-are-people-too theme, you can also feel free to just talk to pregnant women about, you know, anything else besides pregnancy. The weather? Yup. Justin Bieber’s latest arrest? Uh huh. The Superbowl? Sure…why not. We might even be able to discuss the news without crying.

So there you have it folks… a totally biased, yet fool-proof, list to keep you safe from the wrath of pregnant women.

Is it perhaps possible that pregnant women are just being too sensitive. Ummmm…yeah.  Totally. We ARE being sensitive…we are pregnant, remember?

Tread with caution folks.

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