I have recently “popped” and apparently people have felt the need to comment, and for the most part that is completely fine! I am not the type of person to get overly sensitive about comments, some of them I find funny however there are a few rude and uncalled for comments that some people just can’t seem to keep to themselves.
Pregnancy is a funny time. It evokes all sorts of emotions in people around you. People are suddenly more friendly and caring towards you. They are full of advice which though endearing for most part can be a bit stifling too. And then there are others who feel awkward looking at your growing belly that end up saying things to you during pregnancy which they shouldn’t utter even in private.
Though I am only halfway through my pregnancy, there have been times where I have received a few unexpected advices or requests from family, friends and absolute strangers. They were sometimes shocking and sometimes embarrassing. I have compiled a list of common questions and comments not only I have received but other women I have spoken with. Let’s see if we can have a good laugh over them today (because we certainly were in no mood to appreciate some of them at the time, we received them).
As soon as people heard I was pregnant, the first thing a few people asked after congratulating me was “I didn’t know you were planning!” or “Was this planned?” Now to some this may not be a big deal, some people are very open about conceiving, while others are more private and wish not to discuss their sex life openly. Some women may find it rude and quite honestly, nobody’s business. Another thing to keep in mind is that 1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility. Some people are very vocal with their struggles, while others decide to keep them completely private. Asking this invasive question may stir up some emotions the expecting mother doesn’t want to relive. On the other hand, sometimes a pregnancy just happens. No matter how you conceived, this question can stir up a lot of emotions both good or bad so do so with caution.
Now like I said, I am only 21 weeks along. Currently I have a little bump, but I know there is a lot more growing for this baby to do. Although I want to believe most people mean well, comments such as “Wow, you’re huge!” can hit an expecting Mama’s self-esteem real hard. Why in the world anyone would think it’s a good idea to ever comment to another person about their body is beyond me, but pregnancy especially is NOT an invitation to negatively comment on a woman’s body. Women’s bodies change so much throughout pregnancy and it takes not only its toll on us physically but emotionally as well. Our hands and feet swell, our boobs get bigger, our bellies get bigger, our moods change, and did I mention stretch marks? Women feel pressure about their bump looking a certain way, when in reality we know that each bump and each pregnancy is just as unique as the baby you are carrying.
On the other hand, comments like “I couldn’t even tell, you hardly look pregnant!” can cause anxiety in a pregnant woman about the health of her baby. Wondering if her baby is underdeveloped and growing the way they should. Some women cannot wait for that cute little bump to blossom, only to feel a sense of sadness that she isn’t showing yet, or that her bump doesn’t look like her Sister or Best Friends had. It is never nice to tell a woman she is too big or too small and that extends into pregnancy. Pregnant bodies are all different and bellies take on many different shapes.
Comments about how much food the Mama to be should or should not be eating is also a big No-No and most definitely not appreciated. Though I have not personally experienced this, I have heard stories from other Mama’s being asked “Should you really be eating/drinking that?”. You should never comment on what a pregnant woman eats or drinks. If a woman is pregnant, she probably knows what’s best for her baby. You don’t need to make her feel guilty about indulging in a cup of coffee or ice cream. Besides, there might be tons of books she referred to before having that drink, so let her enjoy! Unless you are her Doctor or Midwife, it’s best to avoid making such remarks.
Another common thing that occurs once you are progressing in your pregnancy is the moth to flame phenomenon of people wanting to touch your growing belly. Now, this is something that is different and very personal for each Mama to be. I loved when my husband touched my belly and I would touch it all the time, but he first time someone else went for it without asking it completely caught me off guard and I felt a little uncomfortable. Most would touch my belly and then ask, “Are you ok with me touching your belly”? Well you already are so… no point in asking now. You may not know how you feel about it until it happens for the first time, and like myself I was a little uncomfortable until my bump started to grow and there was something there to touch. A great example I heard the other day is that most people I know ask permission before touching someone’s dog. Unfortunately, that same courtesy isn’t often extended to growing bellies. See the comparison here? Some women are just plain not comfortable with people touching their belly, and this can extend to their partner, parents, in-laws and friends. Don’t overestimate your importance in any woman’s life especially one who is pregnant because it is not an invitation to touch her body without consent. Now, before you start drawing assumptions here not everyone is uncomfortable with you touching there growing belly. Some find it comforting, enjoy the attention and don’t mind physical touch. But be sure to allow each woman to make this decision for herself. Don’t assume anyone is comfortable with unsolicited contact.
Anything about your horrific labor and delivery story (or others you’ve heard about) are in no way helpful or calming to the Mama to be. Unless explicitly asked, please do not feel the need to share your labor and delivery story good or bad. Each labor and delivery are so different and tailored to the Woman and Baby specifically. This also goes for chastising a woman’s birth plan whether it is to go unmedicated or medicated is just mean, it’s not funny, and it’s ignorant. Every woman I know who has decided to give unmedicated birth has done so for very private and thought-out reasons, not because she’s seeking praise from other people. Many times she feels like this is the best choice for her and for her baby. Assuming she’s in it for the praise is gross, and it’s a tell-tale sign that you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. On the other hand a woman’s choice to go medicated (or C-sections) does not mean she is “taking the easy way out” or “weak”, there is still a lot of pain involved. Deciding to try for an unmedicated birth, medicated birth or scheduled C-section is quite the decision. HER decision. If she wants your opinion, she’ll explicitly ask for it.
THINGS TO SAY RATHER…
- “You look amazing.” (Or any other body positive comment)
- “How are you feeling?”
- “Let me know if you need anything.”
- “What are you looking forward to the most?”
There are so many pleasant, supportive things to say to a pregnant woman. Or you could just say nothing at all. Especially in the case that you are not absolutely certain that someone is 100% pregnant. Talk about mortifying. I think these comments are more about people being curious and *most* come from a good place