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Friday, August 31, 2012

How to Talk to a Pregnant Woman

I am nine months pregnant (along with my dear sisters, Melissa and Nonie).  Being this pregnant, I get used to all types of comments from friends and strangers, wanting to be nice, or connect, or just think they should make some comment to a pregnant woman.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I was surprised to find that (at least to some people), social and cultural rules I thought were pretty well established somehow didn't apply to pregnant women.  Pregnancy is such an emotional time, but also such a special and wonderful time.  I love being pregnant, and I especially love babies.  I have been surprised at the negativity expressed to and expected from pregnant women.  Words are powerful!  A thoughtless comment from a stranger can make me feel embarrassed or self-conscious, while a kind and generous comment can really make me feel wonderful.

I've created a list of do's and don'ts when talking to a pregnant woman from my personal experience.  I'd love to hear your thoughts as well!
In labor with a 9lb baby (I can see why everyone thought it was twins!)
DON'T

  • Don't ask if she's having twins.  Twins are not that common, and if she is having twins, she'll tell you.
  • Don't try to think of a joke.  There just isn't a good joke to tell a pregnant woman. (e.g. say she's looking "swell," "well round-ed," etc.)
  • Don't be or act surprised when you learn her due date.
  • Don't tell her she has a long time to go until her due date.
  • Don't tell her she looks uncomfortable.
  • Don't tell her she's about to pop.  Avoid the word "pop" generally.
  • Don't tell her there's a doctor on hand when she walks into a public place.
  • Don't be surprised when she says she's feeling well.
  • Don't ever tell anything negative about your birth experience.  If you had a bad experience and you're asked about it, think of something positive to say about it. 
  • Don't tell her anything negative about either gender (which is harder, easier, etc).
  • Don't guess at a due date, gender, or anything else.
  • Don't touch her stomach unless you are so close you would be touching her stomach if she weren't pregnant.
  • After a jab from my dad about my growing tummy, I responded by pulling out the measuring tape. We were both pretty surprised to find out we were about exactly the same size (although he was slightly bigger).
DO
  • Be very excited for her.
  • Tell her she looks beautiful.  Because she does; she's pregnant!
  • Ask her how she's feeling.
  • Express sympathy if she's feeling sick or fatigue.
  • Tell her her due date is soon.  If it's not soon, tell her it will be there before she knows it or it will come up really fast.
  • Be excited to hear if she's having a boy or a girl; both are exciting and wonderful options!
  • Offer to help (babysit, clean house, etc) before or after the baby is born.
  • Give presents :)
  • Be very respectful of any choice about the birth- natural, epidural, hospital, home, etc.
What has your experience been?  What have you learned from talking to or being a pregnant woman?

4 comments:

  1. Amen! I read a funny article in the Deseret news a while ago that said there are only 3 things to say to a pregnant woman:

    1. Would you like to sit down?
    2. Would you like a cookie (or something nice)
    3. You look great

    That's it. I have 3 littles RIGHT in a row, and oh boy, I get tired of the comments, and the offerings of caster oil, etc.

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  2. I have to say I was never really bothered by people's comments (in my memory), because I think they all mean well. On the other hand, I did get a little tired of telling people that everything was just fine regardless of my small weight gain, or that No it was not "lucky" that I was gaining so little.

    I definitely agree that the best expressions are ones of positivity, enthusiasm, praise, and support. These are so powerful in preparing a woman for labor. She in turn will feel positivity, enthusiasm, beauty and power if others reenforce it.

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  3. For the most part, I am with Meredith, there are few things people say to me that bother me. I have had a few strange remarks with this pregnancy that would fit into that category, namely being asked how I would feel about having a child with a disability. I would of course love any child I was given, I just don't think that is a wise question.

    Also, recently I've had a lot, A LOT, of statements about how uncomfortable this stage of pregnancy is, most of them sarcastic. I haven't had the guts to say, but I really would like to tell those people all that I love being pregnant! There aren't very many times in life that are nearly as special as being able to feel a baby moving inside of you. One of my good friends this morning put it this way, it's like having an inside joke only you and one other person knows about. Or like a secret conversation. Only I really know what this child is like at this point. AMAZING!! I LOVE BEING PREGNANT!!

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  4. "how I would feel about having a child with a disability" Is this a concern Melissa?

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