Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Top 10 Things Not to Say (or Do) to a Pregnant Woman

As Kate heads into the home stretch of her pregnancy, I feel obligated to share some husbandly advice with not only the future fathers out there, but also anybody that may have an encounter with a pregnant woman. Their hormones are off kilter and normally innocuous comments can send an expectant mother to tears. Kate is helping me write this one, so it is not completely from a man's perspective. There are a lot of books out there that give advice like this, but these are the top ten that have happened to Kate.

  1. Don't change the menu. With Kate, and other women so I am told, food has become much more important. (I am shying away from the word obsessed, because that is dangerously close to something not to say.) I inadvertently brought Kate to tears one night because I changed our dinner plans. I told we were eating Roast Beef and Potatoes, but decided instead to prepare a beef stew. They both have essentially the same ingredients but are prepared differently. That did not matter. She had her mind (stomach) fixed on one thing and the change of plans was more than she could take. There was also an incident with Potato Skins, but I was able to rescue that situation due to some quick thinking. Joe's Advice--If you tell her you are making something, make it. Even if you are out of the essential ingredients, go to the store and buy them.
  2. Never ask a pregnant woman if she is having twins, unless you are damn sure she is. To a pregnant woman's ears, this does not sound like a curious question. Even if it is asked innocently, the mom-to-be hears, "My God! You are Huge!" This is similar to asking a non-pregnant woman, "When are you expecting?", which could be interpreted as an accusation of weight gain. Joe's Comeback for Mothers--"No, there is just one baby in there. By the way, I noticed that your new diet doesn't seem to be working too well. Which one is it, so I know to avoid it after the baby is born?"
  3. "Oh my gosh you are big!" & "You get bigger and bigger everytime I see you!" A pregnant woman is dealing with these same thoughts every day. She does not need to be reminded of how prominent--don't say large--her belly is getting. Not only does it upset the woman, the husband usually has to deal with her tears later and fib a little. "No sweetie, you're not getting big at all." Joe's Advice to future fathers--This is very similar to the classic "Do these pants make my butt look big" conversation. All guys know that the answer to that question is a well-timed "No." With a pregnant woman it is a little trickier. It is blatantly obvious that she is getting bigger, so a simple "No you're not getting bigger" generally does not cut it. Try something like "Of course your belly is expanding. Our little baby is growing everyday and taking up more room." The focus is shifted away from her size and toward the baby's growth. And future dads, whatever you do...
  4. Never say "Yup!" when she says, "I'm getting large." Yeah, I was stupid enough to do that. Hey, I was reading and she caught me off guard! It is also bad to agree or snicker when she makes comparison between herself and a beached whale. Joe's Advice--See Number 3.
  5. Never say "You're still pregnant?" or "Haven't you had this baby yet?" This one falls into the Thank You Captain Obvious category. If you are trying to be funny, remember that this type of humor is often lost on pregnant women. Joe's Advice--Why not try a softer approach such as "The big day is getting closer isn't it? What day was it due again?"
  6. "You're pregnant!" (Telling, not asking.) Kate had a patient point at her belly and blurt this out at the hospital the other day. Joe's Comeback--There are too many. Suggest your own in the comments!
  7. Don't scare her with terrible delivery stories. This one really annoys Kate. It seems that everyone has an awful story of things that go wrong in labor or how painful a delivery was, whether it was their own or someone they know. An expectant mother is under enough stress as it is. And if it is the first child, she is a little frightened of the prospect of pushing something roughly bigger than a softball through an opening the size of a quarter. Telling her what can go wrong will just make things worse. Joe's Advice--Even if you have had bad experiences or know some knee-buckling stories, try to tell moms-to-be good things you have heard and try to focus on the positive.
  8. Don't walk up to a pregnant woman you don't know and rub her belly. This one bugs Kate, too. Would you walk up to a not-pregnant stranger and rub her belly? Especially if you are a guy? You would not. In fact, you would probably get slapped and find yourself in the middle of a Sexual harassment lawsuit. Yes, you may be rubbing the baby, but the mom's skin is still between you and the baby. Joe's Advice--Have a pleasant conversation with the mom and keep your hands to yourself.
  9. Don't make fun of her when she can't get off the couch, can't tie her shoes, or is still hungry. Again, trust me on this one. As I said before, humor is often lost on a pregnant woman. Joe's advice--Instead of laughing, offer to help her to do these activities that should be easy but are not due to her prominence. And when she starts to go for the third bowl of ice cream gently suggest an apple. Be careful, though. You don't want her to think that you are insinuating that she is getting fat. Remember, turn the focus to the baby's health.
  10. Finally, never say "Your butt is getting so wide. You're starting to look like J-Lo!" No, I did not say this. I value my life. Believe it or not, another woman said this to Kate. This goes back to the idea that, since she is pregnant, it must be okay to point out the ways in which she is growing. It's not! The future mom is still a lady, she's not livestock for breeding. (Also, why was this woman checking out Kate's ass?) Come on, what woman wants to hear that her booty is going J-Lo in any circumstance? J-Lo probably doesn't even like having a J-Lo ass. Joe's comeback for the mom--"At least I have an excuse. What's yours fatass?"

If you have any advice or better comebacks, please share them in the comments. I will try to find a way to reward creativity. (I may be borrowing this idea from another blog...)


amy7252 said...

Brilliant advice! Here's my suggestion for the "You're pregnant!" observation at work. Lean in really close to the patient and whisper, "Actually, it's a false belly. I use it to smuggle drugs out of the hospital." Alternatively, you can just say, "WHAT???", ack really surprised, look at your belly, and say, "Well, holy s**t, that sure explains a lot!" Also, if someone touches your belly, touch theirs back.

KatHarrmann said...

Hello! I really enjoyed reading your blog entry! As a mom of two boys, I found it hilarious and have been sitting here laughing like an idiot at my desk for the past few minutes while I was reading. Ususally, waiting for press deadline is darn boring for me here at work, so I must thank you for your clever writing! Hope you don't mind that I visited! (Oh, I'm Amy's college roomate by the way! That's how I found your blog!)
--Katrina :)