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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Life :: 3 Things You Shouldn't Say to a Pregnant Woman

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It really amazes me how insensitive people can be when talking to a pregnant woman. I recently wrote about receiving judgment and unsolicited advice about my pregnancy, but today I want to specify some obnoxiously rude, specific statements. I know I'm not the only one who has experienced this, which makes me glad that I'm not alone, but also sad that people can be so blunt and nosy. There will always be people like that, but for some reason, they really come out of the woodwork when a pregnant person is around. Without further ado, here are some things you should NOT be saying to me -- or any other pregnant lady, for that matter!

1. "OMG, pregnancy SUCKS! I hated it!" When I first found out I was pregnant, I got a lot of negative comments about pregnancy in general. Other mothers loved to tell me about how sick, tired, and miserable I was going to be. Seeing as my situation was unexpected, I was already anxious, and it was really hard to stay positive when I was told how shitty I was going to feel. Also, I was already sick and tired as it was, so reminding me of those feelings was not helpful or encouraging at all. Here's what you should say instead: "Pregnancy has it's ups and downs, but you're a strong woman and I know you can handle it! I'm here if you need anything! Congratulations!"

2. "Raising a kid is a LOT of work. Like, it's REALLY hard. And you won't sleep for the first six months, and your nipples will bleed from breastfeeding, and you'll have to deal with explosive diarrhea, and he'll cry and you'll cry and you just have no idea what you're getting yourself into!" Well, no duh. These are all things I already know. Again, I think any pregnant woman (even if they were planning on getting pregnant) is already stressed and scared. Reminding them of the challenges they're about to face is just plain mean. They have probably thought of every possible scenario and don't need to hear about it from anyone else. Worrying about what's going to happen after giving birth takes away from the joy and excitement of pregnancy. It doesn't help or prevent the hardships from happening. Plus, every baby is different. Some people have easy babies, some have difficult babies, some babies are healthy and some, not so much. Not everyone's baby will be exactly like yours, so if you are going to say anything at all about raising one, it's best to be objective and encouraging. Here's what you should say instead: "Raising a child takes work, but you are already so hardworking, I'm sure you'll be fine! Every baby is different, so just enjoy the ride and learn as you go! If you have any questions, I'm all ears." (It's always nice to make yourself available for advice, but don't give it out unless you're asked.)

3. "My cousin's friend's sister just had a baby and almost died! She was in labor for 57 hours and the epidural didn't work and her vagina ripped so bad she can barely walk and her baby was in the NICU for weeks!" I'm pretty sure every pregnant woman's worst fears have to do with the birthing experience, and for some reason, people like to increase those fears by telling every horror story they're ever heard about birth. Hearing these stories does not prepare your poor pregnant friend, instead, it scares her and stresses her out! Again, she is probably already having nightmares about this stuff (I know I have) and hearing that these terrible things can actually happen doesn't do anything positive for her. If she does end up having to deal with a difficult birth, there will be plenty of doctors and staff to take care of her. Let her cross that bridge when she gets to it -- why think about it now? Here's what you should say instead: "Childbirth is different for everyone, but no matter what happens, it will all be worth it when you see your baby's face! I can't wait to meet him myself!"

These are the three most common scenarios I've experienced -- negative, discouraging comments about what could possibly happen before, during and after birth. A few bonus ideas: you also shouldn't hit on a pregnant woman (I seriously think men are blind to the belly due to my boobs), and you shouldn't say things like "hope it goes well" or "hope it's healthy" (this is equal to a back-handed compliment). Think about what you would want if you were in her shoes! Don't comment on her size, even if she looks like a walking whale. Request to touch her belly. Offer help whenever you can, and if you don't know how to help, just ask (though food is always a good choice). And if you're totally at a loss for words, take Shauna Niequist's advice and tell her she's glowing, then change the subject. Easy peasy.

*Photo is an outtake from this maternity shoot.
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