Most of us, man or woman, like to think that we know how to speak to pregnant women. We make comments about how they ‘glow,’ share stories about our own experiences of being pregnant or of being a partner to a pregnant woman. From diet to exercise to clothing, we give advice on how to have the best pregnancy possible. Most of this comes from a good-natured place and is well-intentioned. But then there are comments that leave you wondering why on earth people would make them. If you’ve ever taken the liberty to comment about pregnancy to a pregnant woman – we’ll call her Preggo – or have expressed your opinion of how she looks, read on. You may just fall into one of these categories without even knowing it.
The Observer is known to stare at your belly and other parts of your body, comparing and contrasting to how you were before pregnancy or to other pregnant women. The Observer shows no shame in their stare and may even display enjoyment while doing so through their facial expressions. Observers are just that – observers. The judgment and assessment of their stare serve as words not verbally spoken. Observers will take the following approaches, among others, to execute their stare:
Check you out when they believe you’re not aware.
Be forthright in their looking without giving a care in the world that you notice or not.
Give you a head to toe checkout, particularly from the side angle.
Fixate their look on your belly as you walk by, as if you’re not a whole person but rather a walking belly.
The Commentator feels the necessity to make comments, no matter what their relationship is with Preggo. Commentators can be family members, classmates, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and random people. They have no issue with speaking their mind but even more so they seem to believe their comments have value for you, that they are doing you a favor, or that in their own bizarre way they are expressing care. Some commentators also believe that they are indeed being funny. Commentators will say the following and not limited to:
You’re fat [insert laughter as if a joke had been made].
You look so tired!
Are you having twins?
Your hips got bigger.
By the shape of your belly, I can tell you are carrying a [insert boy or girl].
Now you’re _really_ starting to look pregnant.
I only notice weight gain in your [insert buttocks, thighs, face, etc.] area(s).
A mutual friend called me to ask if you’re still working out. Because they noticed you’re getting heavy on the bottom.
Your face looks different…[insert inquisitive look and long pause]…
Are you [insert number of months] pregnant? (the guestimate is always well ahead of where you actually are).
We were going to buy you some cookies and snacks but decided you didn’t need them.
The Story-teller is known to share stories that Preggo did not ask to know nor do they care to hear about. Story-tellers love to communicate their own experiences and those of their former preggo friends but always neglect to notice that those same stories add another layer of worry for the already-worried Preggo. Stories include but are not limited to:
I had morning sickness the whole time.
I was not one of those people who “glowed”. I hated pregnancy and everything about it. You’re constipated, bloated, and always tired.
A few weeks before my delivery date, I couldn’t feel my baby move and decided to go to the doctor’s office. Before I knew it, I was being sent to the hospital for an emergency delivery because as it turned out, my placenta had become dislodged! The doctors didn’t know how that happened but had to get the baby out so he could be supported and live!
My wife and I arrived at the hospital at 2 am to find that the entrance doors were locked. She had already gone into labor and was screaming from the pain. The security guard who was inside came out but in his rush he forgot to bring his keys. The three of us were locked out of the hospital yet thankfully he had his walky talky with him and called for additional help. By the time they got to us and wheeled my wife inside, the baby came out…in the hallway of the hospital.
I do not care how close of a relationship you have – or think you have - with Preggo. Under no circumstances should you feel the right to touch a woman’s belly without her permission. The fact that a baby resides there and the belly sticks out accordingly is not a green light from Preggo that she wants it to be rubbed or that her body is somehow public property. The Toucher is oblivious to this. He/she may even leverage cultural norms or their elderly age as an excuse to making touching acceptable. The Toucher approaches in the following ways:
Upon saying hello, they will come in to embrace you with a hug or cheek kiss while sneakily slipping their hand on your belly.
They will express surprise or joy when meeting with you and use the moment of emotion as an opening to reach over to touch.
They will lean over to speak to your belly/baby while using their hand to make contact.
They will simply touch your belly as if doing so is a normal method of greeting.
They will gaze at your belly and ever so slowly move their hand toward it, as if anticipating that you might swat their hand away at any moment like one would to a fly.
Pregnancy represents an extremely unique and special 10-month time frame in a woman’s life (no, it is not 9-months as we are led to believe). As one Preggo accurately said, “you’re growing a human being.” Pregnancy is a moment in time that mandates the Preggo to assess herself on a more honest level, to prioritize, to prepare, and to set the pace, tone, and direction of her life and that of her child and growing family. A whole new world is opened with much to do and to experience; no wonder ‘pregnancy brain’ is a phenomenon that Preggos often speak of despite the lack of scientific proof to support it.
Next time you are with a pregnant woman, do her and yourself the favor of keeping quiet with your eyes, hands, and words. If you have the urge to do anything, simply ask how she is feeling and listen to her. Offer her words of encouragement and let her finish the conversation when she has had enough. And for the women who have had children, take special care to heed to this advice because of all people, you should know better than to do otherwise.