Therapist Anastasia Pollock gives us a few ideas of things to avoid when talking to a pregnant woman.
Although pregnancy can be a time of joy and excitement, sometimes people seem to lose their mental filters when talking to a pregnant woman. Instead of just congratulating and asking how the mom is feeling, people sometimes feel the need to say and do things that are actually offensive. Although this list was really challenging to narrow down, and is not at all exhaustive, below are some common faux pas one should be aware of when interacting with pregnant women.
Commenting on the size of the belly
Ask yourself this: Would you make a comment about someone’s size if they weren’t pregnant? Probably not. Why? Because it’s rude. This doesn’t change just because someone is cooking a tiny human. Comments like “You must have twins in there”, “You look like you’re much further along” or “You look like you’re about to pop!” might seem funny to the person making the comment but for the mom, who may be self-conscious about the changes her body is going through, such comments may be hurtful. The fact is, you don’t need to comment at all on a woman’s changing body unless you are going to say something like “You look absolutely gorgeous!”
Telling pregnancy and birth horror stories
For some reason, the sharing of pregnancy news sometimes prompts people to tell horror stories about pregnancies and birth, whether it was their own or someone they knew. Remember this: Pregnancy is a scary time and can be filled with uncertainty. Moms are often times anxious about whether everything will be okay with the pregnancy and the birth. Telling horror stories will only increase mom’s anxiety, which is not good for mom or baby. Keep such stories to yourself when interacting with your pregnant loved ones. If you need to tell your story, tell someone who isn’t pregnant.
Asking if the pregnancy was planned
Yes, this actually happens. For some reason, it seems that social graces go by the wayside when someone announces a pregnancy. Something similar that happens occurs when someone announces they are pregnant with multiples. In this case, people sometimes find the urge to ask if the babies were “naturally” conceived, usually out of curiosity of whether someone went through fertility treatments. Some also feel the need to comment on the timing of pregnancy (ie. saying something like “It’s about time!”) which is also offensive. You many not know what the parents have been through in conceiving their child and the conversation about the how and when is only their business. If you find an urge to ask any questions or make comments in this category, remind yourself that this is none of your business, nor is it relevant.
Touching the belly
How would you like it if someone came up to you and started rubbing your belly? I imagine you would feel that your space had been violated and rightly so. Remember this basic social rule: Don’t touch other people’s stomachs. It’s weird and rude and this doesn’t change just because someone has a baby bump. Unless the mother explicitly invites you to rub her growing tummy, keep your hands to yourself. Pregnant moms, if someone does this to you, I encourage you to touch and rub the assailant’s belly right back! After all, turnabout is fair play, right?
Telling mom what she should or should not be doing now or after baby comes
Some people feel compelled to give unsolicited advice to pregnant mamas, acting as though they are expert on every pregnancy, birth, how to feed a baby, and whether or not a mom is going to return to work after baby is born. The fact is that every pregnancy, birth, and parenting experience is different and you are not the expert on this mom’s experience. This also falls under the category of “It’s none of your business” unless the mom decides to include you in her plans. If she is not asking for your advice, she is probably not interested in your opinion.
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