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What Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

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We’ve all been there: open mouth and insert foot.  Sometimes the action is obvious and other times we just keep shoving it in further without realizing it.  Pregnancy seems to break down walls and bring people together, both loved ones and strangers.  Sometimes this can create a positive transformation in relationships and other times the foot is just stuck in the mouth.  Here are some simple suggestions of things not to do or say to prevent tasting your toe lint.

  • Wow, you look like you’re about to pop!  When is your due date?  In general, women are sensitive about their weight and especially during the emotional time of pregnancy.  It is not encouraging to hear that you look like you swallowed a bowling ball and then have to respond you still have three months of your pregnancy left.   A more tactful approach would be to compliment her glowing appearance (as the extra weight does make you perspire) and ask when the bundle of joy will be arriving.  Following that up with simple congratulations will keep your feet firmly planted on the floor.
  • Do you want a boy or girl?  The science of gender selection is dubious at best and there is little way to control it.  Most couples have hoped for one or the other and may in fact be disappointed that they are not starting their family with the opposite of what they are expecting.  A better question would be to ask if they know and are sharing whether it is a boy or girl and then give them a chance to respond.
  • Let me tell you all about my 57 hour labor that ended in a C-section and me almost dying.  Pregnancy and the resulting labor to follow can be an emotional and fearful time.  Sharing your horror story does not encourage or support the mother-to-be and can in fact create more stress.  If what you are about to say was traumatic and painful for you, it most likely will be for her too.
  • Walking up and touching her belly without asking.  This should go without saying but you would never walk up to someone and touch their tummy if they were not pregnant.  So what gives you free license now?  Your social and cultural boundaries may not be the same as hers.  If you are not family or a bestie, ask first.
  • Do you have stretch marks?  Uh, you’re getting a little personal there.  Do you walk around telling people where you have stretch marks or cellulite or something else you choose to hide away?  Again, focus on the positive and give her a compliment.
What to Expect When You're Expecting: 4th Edition
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