Pregnancy is a beautiful journey. It has its ups and it has its downs. A pregnant woman is the strongest in my opinion. They take a lot of inappropriate and offensive remarks. They also calmly sit through a series of very silly and invasive questions. Some have the heart to shut the culprits up, others are just too polite. So if you have talked to a pregnant woman lately, and she went mute after a few exchanges, then you might have said one of these things.
I. You are huge!
While she might be huge, and retaining so much water she has to wear shoes that are almost three sizes bigger, no one wants to hear that. She certainly does not want to be reminded of the image she sees in front of the mirror every day. Especially not as an exclamation. Observe, but refrain from telling an already tired, cranky and overwhelmed women that she is huge.
II. Are you expecting twins? That belly is not carrying just one baby.
This falls second to, “You are huge.” This sounds funny and you might think you are cracking her up by saying it. However, unless reinforced by the mom-to-be or better yet initiated by her, this conversation mostly goes nowhere else but down. It is enough that she is carrying one baby. And yes, she might look too big for six months, but that is just your opinion. Pointing out that her belly is too big to only have one baby is out of line. She has gone for scans and checkups. She is certain that she is having one baby.
III. Is it not too soon for a second baby?
The pregnancy may or may not have been intended. However, she chose to carry a baby to term. That warrants respect. The fact that she also has boundaries and she has not asked you why you have not had a baby yet, also warrants respect. Different couples space their having children their own way. It is not your place to questions their methods.
IV. When I was pregnant I used to…….(Insert unsolicited advice here)
Human beings are unique. They have needs and wants. What you may have needed to do while you were pregnant, might not be a priority on her part. All the amazing things you did while pregnant might also not make her bucket list. But she is still a mom-to-be. She needs support, conversation, laughter and kindness. This includes kind words too. This also falls under the same class as, “Shouldn’t you..” and “Shouldn’t your husband/partner…” While advice is really helpful, especially when it is coming from an experienced mother, the approach might ruin the message. Condescending ways of delivering a message however priceless tend to ruin the message, the friendship and the moment for the pregnant woman. Remember, hormones are raging and she is always exhausted. Do not add to her exhaustion.
V. When are you going back to work after baby is born?
Believe it or not, people have come up to me and asked me this. While it may seem harmless, it is an inappropriate question. Let the mom-to-be decide what is to become of her career. Whether she goes back to work or she chooses to concentrate on raising her children/child is none of your business. It is also extremely inappropriate to ask a new mum such a question.
VI. Who is the father?
Do we know the father?
Unless you are the infuriated or concerned parent of an unmarried student, then refrain from asking this question. The question the pregnant woman should ask in response is, “Who are you?” Yes, she is single and pregnant. But the rest of the details, unless volunteered by the mom-to-be is none of your business.
VII. I hope you are not drinking/smoking/or any other activities that are harmful to the baby
You are on thin ice. Questioning someone’s responsibility for their child with no concrete evidence for such reckless behavior warrants a smack in the face. Silence is golden. Unless the mom-to-be has engaged in any of those activities, refrain from mentioning it.
There are ways to speak to people without demeaning them or invading their privacy. If you cannot find a way, then saying hello and wishing them well is definitely a start. The second step should be silence. You can never go wrong with silence, unless of course you are quiet after a question has been posed. That is rude, answer the question.