It never occurred to me, until I was about mid-way through my pregnancy with my firstborn, that growing another human being is extremely exhausting work! Especially if you are working full-time or already a mother, you have little to no energy left at the end of most days, and the LAST thing you want to face when you are already at the end of your rope is some insensitive person who just has to put in their two cents about you and your pregnancy. I have compiled a list of rules, that can really just be called proper etiquette, for the general public to keep in mind when speaking to a pregnant woman. These rules will prevent said pregnant woman from feeling like a completely worthless pile of nothing, and prevent you from being the jerk who caused said feelings. Please, for the love of pregnant ladies everywhere, share these rules with everyone you know, and keep them in mind next time you think you just have to share your thoughts with a mama-to-be :).
Rule 1: Do NOT touch the belly. Seriously. Please do not ask, and please do not rub, pat, high-five, or touch-in any way-the belly of a pregnant woman. It is not your belly, and just because there is a cute and precious baby growing in there, does not mean that you have a free-for-all pass to touch the belly anytime you want. Especially if you are a stranger. That is just weird.
Rule 2: Do NOT comment on the appearance of the pregnant woman, unless you are going to tell her how absolutely radiant she looks, or how well pregnancy suits her. You may NOT tell her how tired she looks. You may NOT tell her how uncomfortable she looks. You may NOT tell her she looks too small. You may NOT tell her that it looks like she is going to pop, drop a load, or burst at any day, because chances are she still has weeks, or even months, of pregnancy left. All you will have done by mentioning any of these things is make her feel ashamed of herself and her belly. Do you really want to be the loser responsible for doing that to a beautiful, pregnant mama? I hope not.
Rule 3: Do NOT comment on the type or amount of food the pregnant woman is eating. How would you like to have bouts of nausea and/or vomiting, mixed with food aversions for months, and then be told that you are eating like a linebacker when you actually find something that doesn't send you, heaving, to the bathroom? I know how you would feel-BAD. So just don't do that. It's rude.
Rule 4: Do NOT ask a woman when her baby is due. When you do this, and she had her baby 8 months ago, you will be adding to issues she is still trying to get over from people not following rules 2 and 3, when what she should really be doing is feeling great about how hard she is working to be a great mother and provider for her family. Get a clue.
Rule 5: Do NOT assume that the pregnant woman is an ignorant hippie-dippy tree hugger when you learn, through asking questions that are really none of your business, that the pregnant woman is planning on having a natural child birth, in or out of the hospital. Do you think Eve had an epidural when she gave birth to Cain and Abel? Some women actually want to experience the sensations that come along with giving birth to her children naturally, and have probably made a decision after hours of research that it would be in both her and her child's best interests to do so. Who are you to argue with that?
Rule 6: Do NOT tell a pregnant woman your own/your friend's/your friend's friend/ or anyone else's horror story of labor and birth. There is already quite enough fear surrounding childbirth in our country, and we don't need another story to distort and traumatize the expectant mother's view of what her own birth will be like. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Period.
Rule 7: Do NOT ask a pregnant woman if she is having twins. If she were, trust me, she would be the first to let everyone know. Bellies come in different shapes and sizes, and just because you think it looks like she has a "big" belly, doesn't mean that she is having more than one child. Seriously...who does that?
Rule 8: Do NOT ask a pregnant woman if the pregnancy was a surprise. I mean, what on Earth kind of person would be so nosy to ask such a thing? Would it be a surprise to you if she told you that you were a complete idiot? Probably not, but still-don't even go there.
Rule 9: Do NOT tell a pregnant woman how hideous the name she has chosen for her new baby is. Of course, by this point it is apparent that you think you know everything there ever was to know about pregnancy, birth, and babies, but you do not have the right to comment on something that is as special as the name that the mother and her partner probably spent hours searching for. Were you raised by a pack of wild animals?!? Get some manners!
Rule 10: Do NOT ask a pregnant mother if she is still pregnant during the early months of pregnancy, or any time, for that matter. If you are asking to make sure she hasn't had another miscarriage, then you will have only brought up the misery and pain she has been trying to deal with from having her precious child taken from her womb. Have a heart, people.
So there you have it, a set of all-encompassing rules for the next time you find yourself face to face with a pregnant woman. These rules have been created in the interests of pregnant women everywhere, in hopes that others will begin to treat them with the respect and love that they deserve. Feel free to add your own rules to the list in the comments section below!