It’s all very trying, but not anywhere near as irritating as the nonsense people think they should say to a mum-to-be! Why do they say these things? It’s a mystery, but as a public service, we have pleasure in revealing the do’s and don’ts of conversation when dealing with a pregnant woman.
- Don’t say: ‘You’re radiant!’ or ‘You’re glowing!’. This is a misunderstanding! We are not glowing or radiant. We are knackered, red faced and sweating heavily. Pay attention! Do say: ‘How are you coping with the constant exhaustion and not being able to bend over?’ Or you could try ‘I’ve got an ice pack right here in my bag – let’s see your poor swollen feet’. Either is good, but you’ll make a friend for life if you do actually walk around with an ice pack in your bag.
- Don’t say ‘Will you be breastfeeding?’ This one tends to come from older women, or new mums who have assumed the role of earth mother. The correct answer to this question is obviously ‘Mind your own business!’, but we don’t actually say that, do we? We just tend to smile and answer vaguely along the line of ‘breast is best’. Do say: ‘I assume your husband/partner/significant other knows they’re doing all the night feeds, every night, forever?’ This is excellent advice cloaked in the form of a question! It’s also a much-overlooked benefit of being a new mum, and since there aren’t many benefits, your question will be greeted with a broad, sneaky smile. Job done.
- Don’t say ‘Do you know what it is yet?’ The internet is full of videos showing the moment an expectant mother or couple learns the sex of their baby. Crazy whooping and leaping around! Blue or pink confetti explodes out of balloons! Tears of joy and laughter! No! Unless you’ve had one or two of the same sex (like my sister, who was praying for a girl on the fourth attempt), the vast majority of women I’ve known, didn’t want to know and really didn’t care which they had. A fat healthy baby would do just fine. Do say ‘Is this your first?’ or ‘Oh that bump’s coming along nicely!’ or ‘Sit down and eat this pot of Haagen Dazs immediately’. By the way, my sister’s 4th was a boy. All four of them.
- Don’t say ‘That bump looks like it’s a girl/boy!’ Similar to the last point above, but with an important difference – 10 times stupider. People say it like they’ve got special psychic powers, where in fact it’s just the good old 50/50 chance of getting it right. Or actually 51/49 in favour of boys. But anyway, there’s no truth in it. It’s an old wives tale. Just stop! Do say ‘What a neat bump!’ or ‘You’d never know you were pregnant from the back!’ or ‘You definitely don’t look like a hippo from a certain angle!’ You see? The idea is to be gently encouraging. Just takes a little practice.
- Don’t say ‘Are you having a home birth?’ Sounds like an innocent question, but trust me, it’s loaded with judgement! The kind of person who asks this is only interested in you having a totally natural birth, somewhere in a forest, with nothing but a mossy twig to chomp on during the contractions. Do say ‘Get the gas, get the pain relief, get it all! It’s the 21st century and there’s no need to suffer!’ That is all.
So now you’re all set to have appropriate conversations with pregnant ladies. Remember to let us know how you get on!