Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pregnancy Etiquette, Revisited

I've been pregnant now for a whole 31 weeks, so I feel I am an expert on what people do during pregnancy that makes everyone a bit peeved, as the Brits would say. Here are some more helpful hints for those of you that can't figure out how to interact with the world when they are growing a baby or cannot figure out how to interact with a woman in the family way.

1. Stop one-up-manship. This seems to be a thing that experienced mothers do to new mothers especially. I think it's mostly innocent; they think they're are being empathetic when what they're actually doing is having a good ol' fashioned pissing contest. That's a no-no ladies! The greatest difference between empathy and one-up-manship is the focus: when you make your comment, if you draw more attention to yourself than to the person about whom you are inquiring, then you are attempting to one-up them.
When a new mother of one says, "Oh I'm doing well! Just tired!" do not respond with "just wait until you have TWO." That's rude. When the good lady has two and discusses the difficulty of coordinating sleep schedules, do not respond "Welcome to MY world." That is also rude, and makes the mother feel as if everyone else has been doing this for ages as she's been skating by so easily.

2.  Stop fear tactics. Childbirth is a private thing, but some cultural wisdom about it swirls around thanks to indiscreet movies and the fact that women's private health concerns are considered appropriate conversation fodder these days. With the result that newly pregnant women are often treated to inquiries such as: "Well you're getting close - are you afraid? I had 30 hours of labor with  my first, it was the WORST." Other delightful anecdotes include how much *ahem* damage down below the storyteller suffered as well as any awful medical abnormalities that surfaced.
I realize that women who have given birth belong to a club and membership in this club was purchased with blood, sweat, and weight gain. However, please try to refrain from frightening non-members; they certainly can't reverse their decision now and fear is an emotion that hurts labors, not helps.

3. Stop the TMI. Being pregnant certainly helps one to be more accustomed with one's ah...incarnational state. Bodily challenges arise that were previously unknown. However, the solution is not to broadcast them far and wide. Ladies, if you find yourself in that blessed state, please remember your manners: do not discuss bodily functions or in-depth medical issues with any but your closest intimates, preferably in quieter tones. No one enjoys their coffee with a side order of...well, goodness, I can't even bring myself to say it!

4. Stop dressing non-pregnant. The new pregnant shape is something of a challenge to dress. Fashion designers over the years have alternatively ignored and tortured pregnant women, and we so appreciate it too. However, this is a rather idyllic time for pregnancy fashion: stores exist just for us, with undergarments just for us!, and they even make pants with convenient stretchy panels that I may never give up, even post-baby. However, some women want to be more "fashion forward" and in so doing, leap right into a puddle of mud.
Fellow pregnant women, please cover up. I am proud you are enjoying your new voluptuous state, but keep your bosom decently attired. You might want to be aware that if you choose to wear a bikini, you can't wear your same top; you will be bursting out of it very shortly. I am sure your husband enjoys it, but mine just stops talking to you and then you ask if he's mad at you and I can't deal with your bosom as I am trying to corral my own.

5. Stop the belly molesting. I know...I've said it before and so has everyone else. But my belly is not public property and neither is the belly of any other pregnant woman. Please, please - do not forget yourself. Even if you feel you are intimate enough with the woman, you are not. My sister was recently staring at my belly so longing that I finally invited her to feel her niece kick, but the key is: I invited her! My sister, being the well-bred soul of decorum that she is, would never have dreamed of touching me without my permission.
In addition to a matter of etiquette, the concerns comfort and health concerns too. Pregnant women have aches and pains in their bellies; sometimes touching it is rather uncomfortable. Not to mention, as rather emotionally driven beings, sometimes having strangers suddenly encroaching upon us can be extremely upsetting - we become like territorial mother bears and want to rip your arms off. Surely we can all agree this is just bad for public health and should be avoided.

Wasn't that fun? Happy Wednesday!


  1. 6.) Do not under any circumstances comment on the size of a pregnant women's belly. Whether you think it looks small or big, just don't say anything. Also, never, ever, ever tell someone "oh, I couldn't even tell you are pregnant", especially someone who is a couple of months along. You may think it is a compliment, but it's not.

  2. YES! I could not agree more! If they say I'm huge, I'm thinking "great thanks!" but if they say I'm barely showing I'm thinking "are you telling me I always look this fat?"

    Best thing is to just say - you look fabulous!

  3. Just to add another etiquette: Never tell a pregnant woman something like this - "You need to enjoy ____ now because once the baby comes, you can kiss it goodbye.” Other people need to understand that pregnancy is a very emotional time for a woman, especially if it’s her first time. Also, you should never say that pregnancy is a difficult experience that will probably affect the health because it might have a negative impact on her. Always make her feel comfortable, especially during the hardest times. :)

    Aiko Dumas


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