There is nothing private about being pregnant.
The second my belly popped out, I was thrilled because I felt cute and I knew the world could finally tell by looking at me that I was expecting. However, with my bigger bump came the even bigger realization that a pregnancy is a very public happening. Most people are overjoyed for you -- even if they are complete strangers. This was, for me, a little weird, but it becomes contagious too. All of a sudden I would find myself matching other people’s level of enthusiasm.
A lot of people also assume that being publicly pregnant meant that I was in need of their advice, commentary, or random offensive touching. So, to make this easier on all of us, I have compiled a list of five things that you should never do or say to a pregnant woman.
Boy you are getting BIG!
I’ve gotten this a few times, especially in the last week or so. I’ve only gained 14 pounds (and I’m just over seven months pregnant) so I know that “I” am not necessarily getting bigger, my baby is. Which is, I’m sure, what you meant to say to me. So, say that. Literally. Say, “Wow, your baby is getting bigger!” (If you really have to say anything at all.)
The last thing a pregnant woman wants to hear is that you think she’s looking big. Catch a pregnant woman in the wrong mood and she might just shoot back, “Huh, you too, but I guess you don’t have an excuse.”
If you wouldn’t say it to a regular woman, you probably shouldn’t say it to a pregnant one either. Think about it. The safer bets are the standard, “You are glowing!” and, “You look wonderful!” Yes, we really do love to hear that.
And, please, hands off the belly.
I understand that some people are obsessed with touching pregnant bellies. Not that I personally understand it, but I hear about it a lot. Never, ever in my life have I touched a pregnant belly of someone I didn’t know. If that’s your thing, though, it’s cool, but don’t EVER approach a pregnant stranger and just touch her stomach. It’s just weird.
Even if you know her, it’s polite to ask before assaulting her and her fetus. Some people don’t like to be touched, and others will totally oblige you in your freaky desire to touch their pregnant bellies; it depends entirely on the nature of the pregnant person.
I have given a few people (my husband, my mom, and my mother-in-law) carte blanche to touch my belly and everyone else? They need to ask. I am generally happy to have them touch and I’ll even tell them where she is located so they can feel. But if a stranger touched my belly? I would scream. Literally.
Was your pregnancy planned?
I feel like you would have to be a habitual line stepper to ask something like this, but they are out there. Suffice it to say that if you don’t already know if the pregnancy was planned, it’s not your place to ask. Mistakes (or as moms call them, “surprises”) happen, and sometimes people have to wear the evidence under their shirts. That doesn’t make it your business, though.
Honestly, if a mother-to-be wants to tell you whether or not her pregnancy was planned, she probably will. Otherwise, file it under “none of your business.” And think about this: if you saw a parent with their two-year-old child in tow, would you ask, “Cute kid, did you intend to have her?”
And while I’m at it, let me also throw into this category that it’s NOT OK to ask how the child was conceived. Whether through IVF or naturally makes no difference to the expecting parents -- they are just excited. These delicate subjects are not coffee talk. Sure, sometimes I have wondered these things in silence -- the “in silence” part being the opportune portion of this sentence.
Are you going to have more children right away?
Seriously?! The questions about what I am doing with my uterus began the night of my wedding and they just never end. It’s perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of this pregnancy for several reasons. One, I don’t know if I am going to want more children after this...how could I know that? Even if I did, don’t you think that I would just come out and say, “The first of many to come,” or something? Secondly, it’s just nobody’s business, and I’m tired of talking about it.
I’m focused on getting myself ready for this child, and the last thing I need is your judgment because I have met very few people who are cool with me saying, “This may be my one and only.” It’s always met with a big old, judgy-wudgy, “But you have to have two!” Oh yeah?
“You’ll want the epidural.” (Or other scary birth story crap)
Look, I don’t care how you delivered your baby (or plan on delivering your baby) -- that’s entirely up to you. To me, having a Cesarean birth or an epidural or natural birth is no indication of what kind of woman you are. Truly, the most important factor in any birth is that the mother is comfortable with what is happening and has a voice.
But, if you are going to ask my birth plan, don’t expect me to lie to make you more comfortable. I’m planning on a natural birth, and I don’t need to hear your birthing horror story, or for you to tell me I’ll want the epidural. Why? Because if you told me you were opting for a C-section, I wouldn’t tell you to do something different. So give a little respect where you would want it. And if you don’t have kids, just nod and smile.