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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

the unwelcome things that people say to pregnant ladies...

I had so much fun reading and relating to all of your comments. I'm pretty sure that everything mentioned in the comments of my last post has happened to me. It's amazing what people think is okay to say and how so many people think that your pregnancy and/or baby is their business. If you haven't had a chance to read the comments, go back and do it now. It's very entertaining.

I've tried to sum everything up to come up with a comprehensive list of the most off-putting comments that people have heard while they were pregnant... along with some of my own commentary.

Being told you're fat. Are you kidding me? What is wrong with people? If you want to tell a pregnant woman how excited you are to see a baby bump, then say, "What a sweet baby bump!" Don't say, "Well you've gained weight!" And especially don't shout it in front of a room full of people. Don't tell the woman how much bigger anything other than that baby bump has gotten. Also, don't ask a woman how much weight she has gained or how much her doctor recommends she gain. It's none of your business.

Unwelcome bump touching. Just because a woman is growing another person inside of her, that bump is still part of her body. You should ask before you touch. It is not acceptable to walk up to a strange woman that you don't know at a wedding and just put both hands on her stomach while telling her how you have "bump envy." My parents didn't even touch my baby bump until I told them to feel the baby kicking, so why would a stranger think it's okay? You're not touching a woman's stomach when she's not pregnant, so don't do it when she is.

Asking the couple if the pregnancy was planned. Again, none of your business. If it wasn't planned, then they've just exposed their little "oops" to you. If it was planned then you know they were trying to have a baby, but may have had some trouble conceiving. It's also not okay to tell newlyweds, "Wow, you didn't waste any time." 

Assuming that just because the couple is expecting a baby, they care about every baby under the sun. Not true. At least not for us. We're intelligent people, or we like to think we are. We have lots to talk about other than babies. I love my friends' babies and I will love my precious baby. This doesn't mean that I care about every baby that was born in 2009. This probably applies to the expectant father even more than the mother. 

Unsolicited advice. Everyone will figure out how to raise their baby at their own pace. Each baby is different and each parent is different. What worked for you may not work for everyone else, so don't force the opinions and advice on the poor pregnant girl. She's already overwhelmed enough as it is. Public school vs. private school vs. homeschooling. Bottle feeding vs. breast feeding. The family bed vs. the crib. This pediatrician vs. that pediatrician.

Constantly talking about the bad stuff. "My labor was so hard." "You will never get your sleep again." "My baby cried for four months." How is any of this encouraging the poor pregnant girl?

Asking questions that are none of your business. Don't ask her how long it took her to get pregnant. Don't ask if they are going to breast feed or bottle feed. Usually the poor pregnant girl's response to this question is followed by a strong opinion from the person that asked the question. Asking, "How do you feel?" When the pregnant girl responds, "I'm still sick." It's not okay to respond to her answer and say, "There is no way your baby is getting enough nutrients if you're that sick." And stop asking if she's getting enough sleep.

Not thinking before you speak. One commenter found out she was pregnant with her second son. The rude person said, "Oh no. You'll get a girl next time." Don't imply that anyone is disappointed in the sex of their child.

Telling the couple that their life is over. It is not over. My parents' life was not over. A baby is a huge responsibility, and it will completely consume our lives, but life is not over. We will still have our own identities and find a way for the baby to fit into our lives.

Outright judgement. It's okay if someone chooses not to find out the sex of the baby. It's okay if the couple chooses not to share the baby's name with you. It's okay if the couple chooses a name you don't like. Keep your opinion to yourself.  

Acting like this pregnancy and this baby are about you. It's not. It's about the parents and their sweet, precious baby and what is right for them. You may have done or will do things differently, but this time you don't get to make the decisions. Fighting over who gets to babysit and threatening the couple that you'll show up on their doorstep every day without warning (this did happen to a friend of mine) is not what's best for the baby. 

New parents need a chance to learn and figure things out for themselves. No one needs to swoop in to save them until they ask for help. And they will ask for help! Everyone needs help. But they also need to build their own confidence and learn how to be good parents. We're entering the third trimester tomorrow and panic will set in soon! 

Here's a little something for those that have not been pregnant...

Don't ask newlyweds when they plan to have children. The answer could be "never" and you will definitely have an opinion about that. They could be currently trying, but don't want to share that with you. Most importantly, they married each other because they love each other. Let them focus on that for a while before making them feel pressured to move to the next phase.