life, love, and maybe babies

Thursday, August 6, 2015

5 Questions You Don't Ask a Pregnant Lady (and what to ask instead)

I have reached the stage in my pregnancy where everything - and I do mean everything - gets on my nerves. The decaf coffee takes too long to brew, my shirts feel like they're choking me and why can't people DRIVE PROPERLY?

I'm kind of a mess.

Hubs has done a great job dealing with my irrational behavior and I feel like for the most part I've kept it relatively under control, but there are a few things that are driving me bananas.

The questions. All the damned questions.

Now look, I get it. People are curious. I've opened myself up to questions because I've been relatively forthright about fertility struggles and yadda yadda. So I know that people feel comfortable asking questions about my pregnancy. But you guys, some questions have me thisclose to going postal.

The thing is, I know I've asked these questions of my pregnant women in the past. I wanted to make conversation with them and they are the top 5 that just naturally come to mind. But now, as a preggers gal myself, I am realizing they are really just not appropriate. (There are exceptions, and I'll get into that.) you have some friends or colleagues who could use a schooling in etiquette when it comes to pregs peeps? Feel free to show this to them. Let me be the bitch for you. Someone has to do it.

5 Questions You Don't Ask a Pregnant Lady (and what to ask instead):

1. Are you going to have a natural childbirth or are you getting an epidural?

This question is loaded. No exceptions. No matter what you say, the type of person that asks this is probably going to tell you his/her birth story. And it doesn't matter if their intentions are good and they had a great experience. Chances are, whatever you're planning to do won't line up with what they did. Inevitably, you hear their story and end up feeling like you're choosing the wrong thing, and then you get anxiety and eat a bag of Doritos to cope.

Some women (*raises hand*) have never had a child before and we're, frankly, scared to death. We don't know what the hell we're going to do. We want to believe we can withstand the pain of childbirth, but we also know that a paper cut sends us running to the Tylenol. You asking what our birth plan is just works us up and makes us feel we're doing it wrong. And that just isn't good.

What to say instead: 

I know the idea of labor can be scary. I used a midwife and didn't have pain meds, so if that's something you're interested in hearing more about, I'd love to tell you my experience.


I know the idea of labor can be scary. I ended up getting an epidural so if you'd like to hear more about my experience or advice I have, I'm happy to share it with you.

The point is, you aren't forcing your poor pregnant friend to listen to your story about how you were in labor for 32 hours and when you finally couldn't take the pain anymore you got an epidural but it didn't take properly and you FELT EVERYTHING and OH MY GOD it was terrible. Unless your friend asks about your experience, it's probably best to just let it lie. If she really wants to know about your delivery story, she'll ask.

2. Are you going to quit your job and be a stay at home mom? I did it and it was the best experience ever. And don't feel bad about quitting - your job is to be with the baby. Not every woman feels that her entire existence centers around her children (even infertiles like me want to keep working). On the flip side, some women would give their left ovary to stay home can't entertain that option due to financial constraints and now you just made her feel like shit. Good work.

Here's the real deal: maternity leave and stay at home moms and all that jazz is a tough subject to navigate. There are feelings and budgets and marital dynamics to consider and you stirring that pot up just to make conversation isn't thoughtful. 

What to say instead:

I'm going with nothing. At most maybe you can ask how long she'll be taking for maternity leave, because that's going to eventually be common knowledge. However, she could be on the fence about returning to work at all, and she doesn't need you breathing down her neck to make a decision. Unless this is a super, duper good friend who has been open with you about pregnancy from the beginning, just wait and see what happens and be supportive when it does.

3. Are you going to breast feed?

This one is so tempting to ask. But please, just please don't ask. I'm guilty of it myself and asked women all the time before I was pregnant. Now I'm kicking myself for the pressure I probably made those women feel.

Breast feeding/nursing can be a huge struggle for a woman. Especially a woman like me who has never had a child. Will my milk come in? Will the baby even accept my breast? Will I have the energy to nurse after an exhausting day at the office, because if pregnancy is any indication, just keeping this child alive without falling asleep is going to be a challenge. 

Over the last few years, the breast feeding movement has gained a lot of momentum and that's fantastic. Breast feeding is a wonderful thing that many women are able to do with ease, or maybe even with difficulty, but they push through it and make it work. That's amazing for them. But for many, many women, it just doesn't work for a litany of reasons. And even if you are adamantly positive you are going to breast feed, sometimes you discover it just isn't going to happen. And that can be hard on a woman who really wanted to take advantage of that opportunity.

But I want to get my friend some of my fave nursing products for her shower, and I don't know if she's going to breastfeed. Well, it's called a registry. If there isn't breast feeding paraphernalia on her registry, it means she's a) not planning to breastfeed or b) hasn't decided. Simple as that.

What to say instead:

This is one of those instances where being close to the pregnant woman (best friend, mother, etc) might give you a pass. If your friend is planning to breast feed, she might want some advice and as someone close to her, your input could be helpful. However, if you have never talked about anything other than printer cartridges or shared a meal with her outside of the break room, it is NOT okay to ask this question. I'd say to go with something like, "I'm so happy for you and your husband (or partner). You're going to be a great mom and please let me know if you need anything!"

That's it. No mention of boobs, nipple cream, pumps or formula. It just isn't an appropriate question.

4. OMG, you're so big! Are you about to pop?

Women come in all shapes and sizes. Just like men! And I feel like this question oftentimes comes from a human of the male gender. And I's awkward. After all, Jane has been waddling around the office and whining about her feet being swollen for weeks and weeks! SURELY she's almost done and can shut the hell up about it because it's really interfering with your ability to play Solitaire on your computer during the day.

A woman's size is not open for comment, ya'll. Pregnant or not, it's just not an okay topic. Some women start showing at 8 weeks, some don't until close to 27 and beyond. But guess what? It isn't your business to tell them they look big. Just like it isn't their business to say, "Hey George, having pizza for lunch again, eh? Think maybe you should opt for a salad instead? *wink wink*" 

What to say instead:

You look so lovely today.

5. OOOOH, can I touch your belly?

No, no you cannot. If you even had any idea the amount of hormones that were raging through a pregnant woman's body, you wouldn't go within 10 feet of her. Here's a tip: women who are pregnant (at any stage) probably aren't feeling very gorgeous. We've got extra blood coursing through our veins, our uterus is doing all kinds of weird growing, and our patience level is at zilch. And that's when we aren't even showing yet! By the time the belly pops, we're pretty much over it, so you showing up all Chester Molester and wanting to feel our stomach is just not okay. 

What to say instead:

You look so lovely today.

So there you go. The 5 biggest questions not to ask a pregnant woman. But there are so, so many more. (Are you going to use cloth diapers? Are you carrying twins maybe?) What other questions annoy the living daylights out of you?



Kaeleigh MacDonald said...

So .. funny, cause I guess I find right now the WORST is about when I will return to work and what I'll do.. NO IDEA.. and right now Im not even sure if I WANT to. I think maybe if I do I would like it to be an only from home flexible gig... but I haven't got it figured out yet. Which makes me feel like a bad mom AND a bad spouse/earner. And then I hyperventilate. And my calves cramp up. And then I get low blood sugar and faint. ALL BECAUSE YOU ASKED ME IF IM GOING BACK TO WORK?! FUCK OFF.

Oh, and If Im sure its not twins. I'm six months fucking pregnant. Yes, I KNOW it's not twins. I promise. I just show big and all out front. Shut your pie hole you creep! Oh.. and along the same line.. DO NOT ASK TO KNOW THE ACTUAL NUMBER OF WEIGHT IVE GAINED. UGH! How is that ever appropriate!? On par with my Dr.s recommendation. Shove it twiggy.

Woah. Hit a nerve, hey? lol ( Also, am I the one that shows at 8 and your the one that shows at 27? I feel like this is us. ;) )

Love you!!

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