10 things not to say to a pregnant woman
I recently let the world know that I am expecting twins.
I had read the chapter on pregnancy and other people in my new bible, ‘What to expect when expecting,’ by Sharon Mazel and Heidi Murkoff so had braced myself for some inappropriate tummy touching and some well-meaning pregnancy advice.
I thought I was prepared. How wrong can you be?
“Are they IVF?” was a typical first remark. Even my husband’s golf pro asked.
An acquaintance at a wedding took it one step further asking whether I had, “experienced difficulties getting pregnant.” I hardly know him.
I had expected, “do they run in the family?” maybe, “Are they identical?” Yet no one asked those fairly non-intrusive questions.
Then there is the decision take overs and verbal finger waving. For instance, at a recent outing for a birthday lunch, where plenty of sauvignon blanc was being consumed, I ordered one glass of pinot noir. Normal size glass of pinot noir.
As our waiter placed the wine in front of me, a friend eyed the glass, rose up from the table, pointed in my direction and screeched down the length of the twenty-seat table, “That’s huge! You should only have a bit of it.”
Every subsequent sip felt scrutinised.
When it came time for dessert, affogatos were ordered for the table and the same, “considerate” friend piped up that I would have, “one without coffee or Frangelico,” before I could even get a word out.
I was actually going to pass on dessert but in any event would have liked to have spoken for myself.
Aside from having decisions made for me about how much I’ll eat and what I’ll eat, I have also been cross examined at work on my choice of footwear, “would your doctor mind you wearing those heels?”; my exercise, “you won’t be running to work anymore will you?”; and even my hormones, “do you still enjoy having sex?” and that from a bloke.
A work friend said this in your face probing was just, “Australian bluntness.” I’m English, my Dad is an Australian and so is my husband so I am not buying that. I suspect modern life has made privacy a thing of the past.
Another colleague suggested that such questions were a natural reaction these days because infertility touched so many people’s lives and advised me not to consider them intrusive.
I can’t help thinking that if I was expecting just one child, the IVF question would not have come up.
It’s funny how pregnancy changes the general perception of how a woman can be treated and what can and cannot be said to her.
At this stage I’m still not sure what the ‘cannot’ bit is, so I thought a few tips on what not to discuss with expectant ladies wouldn’t go amiss particularly in the workplace.
Questions and topics to avoid:
- Anything to do with IVF or fertility unless you are a very close friend or confidante
- Speculation on how huge the ‘mother to be’ will become
- Anything to do with stretchmarks, saggy skin or post baby tummy tucks
- Questioning their choice of food or beverage
- Horror stories about labour
- Making “I know what’s right for you” decisions for your pregnant friend, however well-meaning, without consulting them first
- Remarking on how big she has become. Find something nice to say - not a comment that re emphasises how huge she knows she already is
- Making personal comments about your friend’s clothes or shoes unless they’re complimentary. Your colleague or friend is not stupid. She is seeking expert advice so leave it to her to decide when she stops wearing heels or buys her first maternity dress
- Asking about her intentions to breast feed and then expressing your own opinion on the matter
- Screwing up your face with concern when asking how on earth your friend will cope after the birth
Anything else you would add?
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