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Ah, the joys of pregnancy. There are many ups and downs that come with the territory that you can't control, but probably the most annoying one is - other people. I've been pregnant a lot (or so people seem to think and remind me all the time). This is my fourth pregnancy is 6 years. But I've heard some of the same comments over and OVER and I'm pretty much done. I've also heard a lot of my preggo friends get upset because of the things that people say and do to them that are simply inappropriate. So if you are unsure of what not to do around a pregnant woman, here's a brief list in no particular order to help you avoid any bad situations:
- Don't reach out and touch someone's pregnant belly if you don't know them. Would I go up to a random stranger and touch their belly if they weren't pregnant? Um, I'd probably get arrested if I did.
- If you do know the person, it's nice to ask if you can touch. I personally don't mind people patting my belly if they ask first, but some people really REALLY do mind, so be careful and check first. And don't be offended if they say "no" - it's not a personal thing, it's more of a personal space thing.
- If you're allowed to touch the preggo belly, don't stand there and rub for any creepy length of time. I had someone rub my belly for our entire conversation until I couldn't stand it anymore and came up with an excuse to get away. She was a friend and I didn't want to offend her - but really, I'm not a Buddha - you won't get any sort of good luck from continually rubbing my belly.
- Don't say anything to a pregnant woman that you wouldn't say to a non-pregnant woman. This includes the following.
- "WOW! You've gotten BIG!" (Or any variation of this one - even though you may be referring only to their belly, no woman wants to hear the word "big" or "large" or "humongous", etc. in reference to her body.)
- "Man, you look like you're about to pop! How much longer do you have??" (I got this one at the Dollar Tree and I still had 12 weeks left to go - nothing makes you feel worse than thinking you're THAT monstrous and you still have 3 months to go...) Instead, keep your question simple and ask "When's your due date?" or "When are you due?"
- "Are you sure there's only one baby in there?" or any variation thereupon - Again, this will just make the pregnant woman hate you. Avoid it at all costs. As an example, I was in the bathroom at IHOP and this woman looked at me and said "When are you due?" I told her November (this was in July), and she got this shocked look, then relaxed and said "Oh, so you've got two in there!". No, no, I don't, but thank you for insulting me. I officially hate you now.
I've also learned there is a progression of comments with each child.
- With your first, it's "Oh yay!! You're having a baby!!!!" with lots of enthusiasm
- With your second, it's "Oh, good for you, another baby :)" with slightly less enthusiasm
- With your third (at least in our case because it was a boy and our first 2 were girls) "Oh good! You finally got your boy, now your family is complete!" (Really? I didn't realize you were the determiner of the perfect size of my family...)
- And with your fourth (again, at least in our case) - "Wow, you know how that happens, right?" or "There are things you can do about that, you know. It's called birth control." Seriously - so offensive. I'd like to stand on my soap box for a minute and say that even if you have an opinion on what size someone's family should be, don't express that out loud to anyone - really, it just makes you sound like a jerk. My responses have gotten more blunt with this pregnancy, mainly because I can't tell you HOW MANY TIMES I've gotten the exact question "You know how that happens, right??", usually with a grin because they're trying (unsuccessfully) to be funny. I was at church and flat out looked at one woman and said "Yes, I had sex with my husband, thank you." What I wanted to say was "No, I'm completely ignorant about human biology, physiology and sexuality - I never learned about them in school, even though I have my bachelor's degree and graduated Summa Cum Laude. Please, enlighten me as to how I got pregnant for the FOURTH FLIPPING TIME!!!!" Whooo, sorry. I like my friend's response best: "Oh gee, no, I have no idea how that happened! I was just walking through the room, tripped over a laundry basket and landed on my husband - it was the weirdest thing!" Ha ha!! I love her ;)
Now, to not sound so completely negative, here's a list of things you CAN/SHOULD say and do for a pregnant woman - I have received some of these compliments as well, and it made my day more than the people who gave them could ever know.
- DO say "You look so beautiful!" or "You are absolutely glowing" or something similar. Say that to any woman, whether she's pregnant or not - you'll have a lot more friends, I'll tell you what!
- Typically, I'd say stay away from size compliments altogether, like "You're so tiny!", but I love hearing it, so I'm gonna give the go ahead on that one. You might disagree - just use your judgment.
- Do hold doors for them, offer them a seat, do what you can to help them get comfortable. By the end, pregnant women feel like the marshmallow man if he had swallowed a human being that was kicking and screaming to get out of him, so any kind word or act is always appreciated.
I know that all of these tips are tainted by my personal experience, so I'd love to hear any comments or feedback from y'all out there in cyberspace!