So, husbands, partners, people of the world in general – the Idiot’s guide but by all means not an exhaustive list of what not to do/ say to or in the general vicinity of an expecting mother!
This general rule holds: If in doubt, do a Thumper; if you haven’t got anything nice to say, say nothing! If it’s not polite conversation with a non-pregnant person, a pregnant one probably won’t appreciate it either!
My husband has stumbled over several of these already (much to my delight), so let’s get stuck in!
- Get as much sleep/ rest as you can now because you’ll not get any when baby arrives: Really? I was sure it was going to be a complete cakewalk having a miniature tyrant making demands of me until they’re 18 years old. This well meaning gem annoys for several reasons. Aside from being a bit patronising to start with, Mummy may not be sleeping well at all even before baby arrives, with baby rolling and kicking in her belly, not being able to get comfy, having to get up every hour to pee etc etc. Aaand the ever popular counterpart (mostly from husband/ men):
- But sure you’ll be able to sleep through the day when baby sleeps. No. Just No. Don’t. Sure, it’s ideally what you’d like to be able to do, but this is your opportunity to try and get stuff done because when baby is awake, you are at their mercy and giving them undivided attention, although goodness knows I’m going to give it a darn good go. A home doesn’t tidy/ run itself and if the dogs learned to feed themselves and pickup after themselves, I’d be a millionaire and could hire someone to do the rest. But pigs might also fly on that front! Plus, as a new mum, you’ll also need time to rest and recover yourself, or as a first timer just sit in total anxiety that another small, helpless human is dependent on you for, well, everything (and yes – I’m talking about the baby, not your husband!).
- Expressing any opinion WHATSOEVER on how the landscape “Down There” is going to change after having pushed a baby out of it. Yep. It has been said. Out loud. In my presence. More than once, I believe. Not only am I acutely aware of this, with a certain amount of my own anxiety, the last thing I need to hear is my husband say it. How I didn’t assault him I have no idea. Now, I’m sure he was mostly joking, but PLEASE, partners/ significant others. DON’T. You are dealing with a very hormonal, anxious woman with more mood swings than she knows what to do with. You can be guaranteed she has considered every facet of pregnancy and childbirth and the potential impact/ results of this. Her feelings are vulnerable. So unless you’re going to say something like it doesn’t matter and you’ll love her anyway no matter what, and it probably won’t be that bad – don’t go near this one at all.
- Any allusion AT ALL to the possibility that our bowels may evacuate in the middle of labour. My own personal anxiety on this one is sky high. I don’t care if it’s “natural” or “happens to everyone”. It’s not up for discussion and I will be doing everything I possibly can to make sure it doesn’t. And even if it does happen I don’t want to talk about it. Ever.
- “You’re only saying that/ crying/ moody because you’re pregnant”. This, my friends, is what is known as a RED RAG TO A BULL. It really doesn’t matter if this is legitimately the reason why – saying this DOES NOT HELP. In fact, it’s guaranteed to make things worse.
- Any form of criticism, doubt, disbelief or exasperation at how tired we are. Don’t even roll your eyes at it. Unless you have been there – and even if you have, everyone’s experience is different. If we say we’re tired, it means we are tired and will shortly be dozing off or heading to bed. End of.
- You can’t do that/ why can’t you do that yourself. We are acutely aware of what we can/ can’t do – women research these things as we like to know and we like to know what to expect! Whilst we are not disabled, there are some times where we need help or need stuff done for us. Case in point: I’ve been asking for two months for the light bulb to be replaced at the back door for the dogs and for me going out in the dark to lift poops/ go sort washing (our washing machine and dryer are in an outhouse). It’s too high up for me (I’m 4ft11) even on a chair and I hate heights anyway, and can’t do stuff like that as I risk doing serious harm to me or bump if I fall. His response: “Oh it’s fine, I’m gonna get a proper LED bulb for it and a motion sensor and do it, it’ll be really good”. Yes, but until then I need A bulb put in it, of which there are many sitting in the cupboard already…Normally I would just sort it myself but its beyond frustrating to not be able to and not get the help you’ve asked for. SO JUST DO IT. Like within a week – that’s reasonable right? Not months.
- Neatly leading on to: What you can/ cannot eat. A pregnant woman’s relationship with food is sacred. When she says she needs food, she needs it NOW. As with physical activity, be sure that she has researched this exhaustively as she munches through her 3rd packet of Twiglets since a large breakfast and before lunchtime. Don’t judge if she’s not eating totally healthily 100% of the time either – whilst we’re not eating for two, a healthy appetite (especially if she suffered with morning sickness early on and couldn’t eat much!) is not to be sniffed at.
- How big/ small you are/ your bump is. Mate. Women are expert over-thinkers. And this isn’t even polite conversation in normal circumstances – so why is it considered so for highly emotional/ hormonal pregnant women? We are constantly worried about when we may be “showing”, if baby is developing enough or if we’re putting on too much weight or maybe even not enough! We can barely get clothes to fit even before the “bump shows and we feel fat rather than pregnant. By all means, say something positive – i.e. “you’re glowing” “Your bump looks cute/ pregnancy suits you”. But choose your words carefully, please. Do not say “you look huge” or “has the baby not arrived yet?” Towards the end of pregnancy we will most likely be just as eager for the arrival, trust us. Being a blimp is not fun.
- What will you do with your dogs/ cats/ pets – Aren’t you worried? Ehm, No. They’re part of the family too, and whilst they’ll be taught that the baby is above them in the pecking order and to be sensible/ respectful around baby as they are with us, I personally think it’s a great learning experience and experience in general to grow up with pets. And if you don’t like it? Tough. Not your child, not your house.
General rule for everything above: If we want your opinion, we’ll ask! Even then, I recommend choosing your words carefully!
Have I missed anything obvious? Let me know your experiences below!