Don’t assume a woman is pregnant… EVER! I learnt this down the aisle of Woolworths. I’d had three children of my own, so there was no excuse for my brain explosion.
There was a young woman, searching for the best breastfeeding pads. She saw me, with a small child, and asked ‘Excuse me, which are the best pads?’.
Ooo goodie! I love pregnant women, I thought. I replied, ‘Well, before baby arrives, these are the best’ (at which point, I grabbed her my favs down off the top shelf and gave her an endearing look).
‘But what do I do now I’ve HAD the baby?’ She said.
Earth, please swallow me now and put us both out of our misery.
A note to the pregnant ones… people are excited and can’t wait to give you their unsolicited comment and advice. This is often done with minimal forethought and sensitivity, particularly if they’re caught off-guard! The truth is your pregnant form demands some acknowledgment. Sometimes the first thing you hear is crazy speaking.
Harbouring a baby in your womb gives you an enviable status and people will ‘weigh in’, regardless of whether you’re up for their comments or not.
If you’re not pregnant, and don’t want to offend your pregnant friends, perhaps take a look at some of these ‘golden rules’ in order to maintain a friendship and protect you from kibosh status. And, if you don’t know that pregnant woman, you are currently soliciting, BACK. OFF. NOW!
What pregnant women DON’T WANT TO HEAR:
Golden rule #1 Don’t EVER tell a pregnant woman her tummy is small.
They say: ‘Where are you hiding that baby of yours? You can barely tell you’re pregnant’.
You hear: ‘You’re too small. You’re clearly malnourishing that baby’.
They mean: ‘I wish I carried my baby as ‘neatly’ as you carry yours. I was the size of an African Bush Elephant’.
The truth: If your healthcare provider is happy with your baby’s growth and weight gain, you have nothing to worry about. Your peeps need to stop commenting on your tum. All pregnant women carry their babies differently.
Golden rule #2 Don’t EVER tell a pregnant woman she is BIG.
They say: ‘Twins?’
You hear: ‘Watch out everyone, this woman is about to explode and simultaneously drop baby and body fluids on your shoes’ AND ’You are so ginormous. I had no idea pregnant women came in your size’.
They mean: ‘Incredible. I really had no idea a pregnant belly got that big’.
The truth: Of course you look big in the eyes of a rake. You’re carrying a human being in your abdomen. Be easy on your beautiful self. That idiot clearly has NO idea.
Golden rule #3 Don’t ever try to guess a woman’s due date.
They say: ‘Any day now?’
You hear: ‘Surely you can’t get any bigger than you already are’.
They mean: ‘I have no idea how big you’re supposed to get before you deliver, but you look big enough to me’.
The truth: Even if they’ve had a baby, it can be hard to remember just how big that tum needs to get, to grow and develop a tiny human. Again, all women carry their baby’s differently, and all women have varying sizes of babies, so to hazard a guess as to when someone’s baby is due, is probably pretty slippery territory. They really just shouldn’t go there, but they probably will.
Golden rule #4 Don’t discourage and dishearten other moms
They say: ‘Just you wait. You think it’s hard now, wait ’til baby’s born!’
You hear: ‘You’re going to suck at this. It’s tough work and it’s never going to improve’.
They mean: Exactly what they’ve said.
The truth: This kind of comment, I believe, is the worst comment of all. This is typically coming from one mother to another. It’s un-tribal and un-kind!
As a company of women, we need to be encouragers of one another. We need to remember what it was like, have compassion and be sensitive in our approach, especially to new mothers, who DO have it all ahead of them. As a new mom, you are not stupid, you are simply new to this. Your joy should be shared, but sometimes it’s not.
We need to remember this as we grow into our role. We should want the best for the mothers that follow in our footsteps. Let’s get on board and not de-rail our fledgling mothers!
Golden rule #5 Don’t pretend to be interested, if you’re not.
They say: ’How much longer to go?’
You hear: blah blah blah
They mean: I’m trying to be interested, but this baby-focus is all a bit boring.
The truth: Because being pregnant is all-consuming, chances are you’re talking about your pregnancy or baby all the time. That’s understandable as it’s a huge thing you’re going through. Try not to be offended if people are a little tired of the pregnancy chatter. Be mindful that although many are fabulously pleased for you, no one will be as excited as you. Don’t forget to ask how they’re going and express interest in their life too.
Golden rule #6 Don’t act surprised if baby hasn’t arrived yet.
They say: ‘Isn’t the baby here yet?’
You hear: ‘That’s disappointing. Sure you’re not faking this pregnancy?’
They mean: ‘I feel like you’ve been pregnant forever’.
The truth: Gestation for a human is 9 months. Surprise!
You’re probably not going to get a favourable response from a pregnant woman if you keep asking her if the baby has arrived yet. If she’s in her final weeks of pregnancy, it’s probably all she thinks about. She’s likely busy drinking Raspberry Leaf Tea, consuming hot curries and is probably worn out from every ‘opportunity’ to have sex with her partner.
Rest assured, if she still likes you, she’ll let you know when baby arrives.
A note to the dear friend, watching her pregga mate….
Wondering what there is left to say to your now pregnancy-consumed mate?
Tell her she looks beautiful, because she does. Tell her you’re imaging just how excited she must be about her new baby’s arrival. Wonder with her about what her baby might look like and what she will do when she arrives on our earth.
Express your excitement, if indeed you are. Encourage her and try to put yourself in her shoes. She’s going through a lot and there are lots to come…
Be practical with her – cook her a meal, vacuum her floor. Help her grab those boxes that are up too high for her, help her decorate her baby’s room and sort her drawers. Drop around and make you both a cup of tea. You are likely to be the best thing for her right now.
Mum of six fabulous kids and foster-mum to numerous others. Event manager, doula, childbirth educator, lactation counsellor, owner of Sydney Birth Support, Mamaway Advocate and an encourager of all mums out there giving it their best crack!