5 Questions You Should Never Ask a Pregnant Woman

Respecting the privacy of pregnant women.

Children 13th Jan, 2021

Being pregnant can be the most incredible, yet challenging, experience. If you are a parent, you may recognise many of these issues, if not, this could help you support a partner/friend/relation who becomes pregnant. A good starting point is noticing how often a pregnant person is treated as public property. For example, how do casual pats on the baby bump from complete strangers feel? Depending on the situation and person, they could be a wonderful expression of that person’s goodwill, or incredibly invasive as your friend gave no permission for their personal space and body to be violated. People also ask deeply personal questions, or make statements, that nobody would dream of saying at any other time. Once you are aware of a few of these, you can watch out for others and hopefully, provide support and protection.

It Can’t Be Long Now:

This statement implies weight gain, you should never tell a person they are looking bigger, this is no different during a pregnancy. Particularly as many pregnant women struggle with the changes in their body. This statement can often be interpreted as ‘you look fat’ and will do nothing for your friend/partner/relations self confidence. If the subject comes up, tell them the pregnant person they look fabulous. If someone makes this statement in front of you, challenge them if possible, in a non confrontational way. You could try ‘I was saying earlier how radiant she looks and how well she is coping.’. This is a sentence that people generally feel obliged to agree with, you can then change the topic of conversation.

What Are You Eating/Drinking?

They will have midwives, nurses, doctors and many family/friends/passing acquaintances inquiring into their diet. Although the medical profession is trying to help and give advice, it can still feel like your partner/friend is back at school, being told they are doing everything wrong. When you add the pressure of wanting to do the best thing for their baby, this question can become very distressing. If you enquire about diet, it might even feel like you are implying the woman doesn’t care enough about her unborn child to listen to/follow medical advice and do outside research herself. You may be asked for advice, that is different, share what you know. Otherwise, be kind and do not raise the subject.

What Is Your Birthing Plan?

There are so many variations and choices that this can be a wonderful experience, exploring and settling on the right course for them, or incredibly overwhelming. It can also be a huge subject of contention between partners/with parents/with midwives and doulas. Alternatively, your friend/relation might be very excited and tell you what their birthing plan is. Let them introduce the topic then be enthusiastic, or sympathetic, as necessary.

Are You Planning On Breastfeeding?

This is a very personal choice for any parent. Midwives often put a lot of pressure on people to breastfeed. Although there are various good reasons for this, breast milk has a different combination of vitamins/immunity etc at different stages, modern formula milk is excellent too. This may be something your friend already knew she did/didn’t want to do, either way it will have been discussed endlessly with midwives, then partners and everyone else. Added to this, not every child will take to the breast, it can be quite difficult, distressing and it is painful. You can avoid making a contentious issue worse, by simply never mentioning it. Of course, if they bring it up, you can be a sympathetic ear. Perhaps you have experience, if you are asked, then give advice or share your feelings on how it was for you. Emphasise it is different for everyone, whatever the baby wants and needs are, is the best guide.

They Will Struggle At School:

If a child is due just before the school year ends, there is a historical view that they will struggle as the youngest in class, months behind others in their year. This statement is both false and implies bad planning on the parents part, which can be very distressing. Getting pregnant is rarely straightforward and often takes time, the last thing on a person’s mind is, ‘when would my child be due if I conceive now’. The month a person is born may once have made a small difference, however, a child’s schooling is far more likely to be affected by their personality and style of learning. With modern knowledge, when parent/s do letters/reading/numbers at home, there is no reason to think children will have any difficulties connected to which month they are born.

Fundamentally, these all too common statements and questions, are an invasion of privacy. Once you see that, you can become one of the few people a pregnant woman can relax around. This may enrich your relationship with friends/family as they see how sensitive you are being. It may even provide you with a network of people who treat you the same way if you decide to have a child. Either way, being kind to yourself and others, will always provide the reward of knowing you have done the right thing and helped make someone’s life a little easier.

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