January 25, 2012

Top Ten Pregnancy Offenses

This being my second time down the pregnancy trail, I've learned a great deal about the power of selective memory.

That, and how drastically my own pregnancies can differ from those of other women.

This pregnancy, my SPD and my heartburn are MUCH better than last time around.  But I am SO MUCH MORE TIRED!  This time, I've had more friends go through pregnancy, and I've been up close and personal with a lot of other women dealing with the kind of crap that pregnant ladies have to go through.

Every pregnancy is different, even for a single person who gets pregnant on different occasions.

But there are some universal pregnancy facts- nay, warnings.  There are things that, no matter what, you should never ever ever say or do to pregnant women.  And here, for your enjoyment and in no particular order, are the worst of them.

"You look great!"
1. Do not comment on a pregnant woman's size.  Period.  No, "Oh, you're barely showing!"  Or, "You're so big!"  Or God help you, "Are you having twins?!?"  Nine times out of ten, regardless of your intention, you're going to be being an ass.  I cannot STAND it when people tell me I'm barely showing.  Yes, I know to you it looks like there's not much bump there, but it IS- it's just cleverly camouflaged by my rapidly swelling breasts.  Yet another thing I do not need you to comment on.  So while I merely look like I've put on a bunch of weight everywhere, I haven't.  It's all right in the front- in those female parts that get bigger when there's a baby on board.  There is, in fact, only one thing you should EVER say to a pregnant woman about her appearance.  "You look great."  Whether or not it's true.  Whether or not you have any idea what she looked like before.  "You look great," or a similar variation thereof, is ALWAYS a compliment.  But it is more than a compliment, it is also a validation that despite probably being exhausted and probably having vomited recently and probably feeling entirely un-cute in her pregnancy- and not necessarily MATERNITY- clothing, she looks great.  So that is what you say. Period.

2. Never touch without being first invited to do so.  There are some implicit invitations.  If you are invited to the baby shower, and you are AT the baby shower, you may touch the belly.  It is relevant.  If you are doctor who is likely to be attending the birth of the baby inside of the belly, you may go ahead and touch the belly.  If you are absolutely anybody else- you MUST get permission before attempting to touch the belly.  Lucky me, this was never a concern.  No strangers ever ran up to rub my belly.  Perhaps this was because I always looked so angry and irritable and ready to eat lone strangers that they avoided me.  And if they had put a hand on me without my permission, they would have lost it.  No matter how well you know a pregnant lady, ASK before you touch the belly.

3. Never make a negative comment about a name.  No matter how dreadful you think it is.  It is just not any of your business what somebody names their child- so unless you have something nice to say you just keep it to yourself.  I could be planning on naming my child Wadsworth Daffodil Bumbledum, and you have no business telling me that it is in any way a bad idea.  MY child, MY reasons, MY preferences.  Yours just plain do not matter.  Do not tell me that my preferences for names are to "ethnic."  I'M ethnic.  Do not tell me that my choices for names are too old-fashioned.  They are probably the names of deceased loved ones, who thankfully, died in their old age.  Of COURSE they're old fashioned.  Do not tell me that you once knew somebody by that name and they were a big jerk.  I forgot, everybody named Caitlin or Matthew is an enormous d-bag.  I'll change my selection immediately to suit you.  Do not tell me that my child's name is "weird," I promise you that I think there are weirder names out there.  Do not tell me I should change the spelling, or use a similar name from a different language.  I have not just pulled a name out of a hat.  I have put thought into this, and you are criticizing something with a lot of personal meaning and import.  And for the love of all that is decent, do not tell me that my other child/ren have beautiful names, and it would be a shame for only one to have a horrid ugly name.  Not. your. place.

4. Do not make fun of pregnant ladies for their flatulence, frequent urination, heartburn, or acne.  If the pregnant lady in question is a friend of yours, and SHE makes fun of HERSELF, that is one thing.  But do not instigate these jokes.  She is undoubtedly sensitive about how awkward it is to be pregnant.  Like being a teenager.  Only pregnant.  And without the stamina.  Give her a break.

5. Do not smile knowingly while she complains about how miserable she is.  If she is telling you that she is in pain, or that she is uncomfortable, or that she is unhappy, don't patronize her and tell her to enjoy herself.  She knows that pregnancy is temporary.  She also knows that she is NOT ENJOYING IT.  That is precisely what she is telling you.  If she tells you that she is having a bad time, SYMPATHIZE, tell her that when it's all over it will so worth it, and then move on.  Don't act like you know better than she does how "precious" this time is.  She knows.  She also knows that her heartburn is peeling the enamel off of her teeth and that she has stretch marks that will forever keep her out of a bikini.  She's an adult, not a kid who didn't get the flavor ice cream she wanted.  Wipe that smirk off your face and tell her she looks great.

6. Don't make blanket statements about the possible appearance of her baby.  No, "Oh, wouldn't it be a shame if it had your hair," or, "If it has it's grandma's nose, it better be a boy."  First of all, there is no doubt she has her own preferences in this department.  She probably has all sorts of her own issues with her appearance, and she doesn't need you reinforcing them.  Second of all, nobody can control what the baby will look like.  And even if the baby comes out with six eyes, nine legs, ambiguous genitalia on both of its feet and an extra mouth in the middle of its stomach, you will be obligated to tell the parents how cute it is.  And that will be much harder if you have to eat your words.  Pretend it's already here, and however it looks is adorable.

7. Do not smirk at the other children of the pregnant lady in question, and remark, "Looks like you're going to have your hands full!"  As anybody with ONE child knows, she's already got her hands full.  As any woman pregnant with her first child knows, she is about to have full hands as well.  Every woman knows that a baby is a lot of work, none better than a woman who has had a few already.  And reminding her that things are about to get much more complicated for her family- which as you stand there smirking already consists of several children who are covering themselves in their lunches and running amok in the grocery store- is just not nice.  If you must say anything, tell her that it seems she really has a handle on her incredibly well behaved children, and the next one will be a breeze.  Lie, if you must.

BWS tips button8. Do not criticize her parenting choices when it comes to the new baby.  If she's having it at home, don't tell her that she's stupid.  If she's planning to formula feed, don't tell her she's abusive.  If she's planning on starting it in music classes when it's four months old, don't tell her that she's crazy.  No matter how much you disagree with her, do not tell her that she is doing the whole parenting thing wrong.  We all go into this blind.  If she's trying to do anything genuinely nuts, she'll figure it out soon enough.  And if not, you're just making things harder for her by criticizing her in advance.  Lay off.

9. Never regale her with tales of births gone wrong.  She doesn't need to hear all about your friend's aunt who died because she couldn't deliver the placenta, or your mother's cousin's great-niece, who got septic from delivery and lost three of her limbs, or your dentist's brother's daughter-in-law who's baby got stuck in the birth canal and is now blind and has some sort of palsy.  I promise you, she already has enough birth related anxiety.  If there is ANYTHING AT ALL that she is actually in danger of suffering, her medical provider and personal medical history will have warned her.  You do not need to make birth terrifying. For most pregnant women, it already is.  Just keep your mouth shut.

10. Do not ask her when she'll be getting pregnant again.  Just let her get through this one, and when she's ready to talk about starting the whole magical show all over again, she'll let you know.  If she wants to. Because once again, this is just not any of your business.

Now, me and all the other pregnant ladies can go crawl back under our rocks.

Pregnant- again.


  1. Is it okay to say you look adorable?

    The name thing is why we didn't tell anyone til after our babies were born!

  2. So with you. And you look so cute. I only give advice when asked. And my go to saying is "You look fantastic."

  3. I so agree with all this. I hated people telling me horror stories on their births. Good luck on the rest of your pregnancy and I agree you look adorable.

  4. Congratulations on being pregnant - again! I love your list! I've been pregnant quite a few times and your list makes me laugh - especially the birth-stories-gone-wrong thing. WHY do people DO that? LOL Just to scare the crap out of you, I suppose.
    They All Call Me Mom

  5. All preggy ladies are adorable! All of those things happened to me when I was pregnant. My biggest peeve though was definitely the touching. It's creepy.

    And when my husband's co-worker asked me (3 mos after delivering my son) if I was pregnant again. Thx a-hole, I'm just still fat. :/

  6. Great blog! I have given you The Versatile Blogger Award. You can check it out at http://rediscoveringourfamily.blogspot.com/2012/01/versatile-blogger-award.html

    -Audri (Rediscovering Our Family)

  7. Love this post! Love it. When I was pregnant with the twins - one student actually stopped in the middle of the hall and said, "DANG!" UGH. And the horror stories. And - everything you wrote is 100% true. You should write a book. Great post.

  8. Loved this!!! I think this should be posted on the front page of every newspaper for all the idiots out there. I worked in a grocery store during both pregnancies and I have heard all of the above! You do look adorable, and you can write!!!! You go girl!

  9. Popped by from Finding the Funny. What a fun piece on the perils of pregnancy. Sage advice for the folks who need to interact with the pregnant set.

    I like to say to pregnant women: You look great! That name sounds great! I think in utero French lessons are great!


    Ninja Mom

  10. Great points!! I will have to bookmark this one & pass it on when I hear someone slipping up. It was a good reminder, too, since my youngest is almost 4. So glad you linked this up with #findingthefunny! It made me smile. :)

  11. #2-I hated when old ladies at the grocery store felt the need to not only touch me, but then tell me all the things I should and shouldn't be doing. On another note, I'll never forget when M told me "I get to touch the belly because I'M a daddy."

    #3-Who seriously picks on a child, better yet an UNBORN one? Do they not have anything better to do?

    And most importantly, #1- no matter what you always look beautiful. You did with the first two, you do with this one, and all the times in between.



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