Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Talking to the pregnant woman

    I think I'll take a moment for a slightly lecturey blog post.

    I know not everyone knows how to talk to pregnant women. Is it okay to ask to touch her belly? Is it okay to mention how big her belly has grown? What things are okay to say or ask, what things are totally off limits?

     Of course, I can only speak for myself in all of this, so don't take my word as law for ALL pregnant women world wide. But if in doubt, just follow a good rule of thumb and remember:

       Pregnant women are still women.
       If you wouldn't say it to a woman who wasn't pregnant, don't say it to a pregnant woman either. Unless you know, for a fact, you won't be putting your foot in your mouth, or crossing the line you shouldn't cross, just don't do it.

   The belly is a big question mark, probably the biggest. Personally, I love my expanding Joel-Hotel and I am pretty fine with people I know touching my belly when they see me. But, that doesn't make it an open invitation for everyone who knows me in passing.
Like I mentioned before, if it wouldn't be appropriate to touch her if she wasn't pregnant, don't do it without knowing for a fact she is okay with it. Asking and being told no is way better than making her uncomfortable and awkward with an unwanted touch. If you don't know her well enough to hug her when you bump into her at the store, you should probably keep your hands on your own stomach.

    Since becoming pregnant the big issue I have had is my weight. I've gained much more than the recommended amount, and I started showing pretty early. Personally, I love it. I don't have a problem putting on weight, and the fact that I am putting on more than I should doesn't concern me. In fact, seeing as I was underweight most of my life, I think it's healthy to put on a bit for my growing boy. There is a small shock about suddenly having trouble fitting into clothes (something I never worried about before), but I still find myself one of the lucky women who just don't care much about their weight. But I'd be the only one.
    My weight was something people felt free to discuss before I got pregnant, and that irritated me quite enough. (I can't tell you how sick I was of hearing about how skinny I was and how I should put on weight- nothing like that to give a girl a complex.) And now that I'm pregnant it has become totally open for anyone and everyone to discuss at any moment, at any event, with absolutely no tact.

 Suddenly I am being told left and right that I am, in no uncertain terms, "huge".
    But it's when talk goes beyond being specifically about my expanding stomach, that it becomes offensive. And it turns something that I am completely okay with about my body into something I worry I am too okay with, and the last thing I want is to become concerned with my weight.

    The comments about growing faster and bigger than anyone they knew this far along, the comments about how hard it will be to lose the weight ("IF" I ever do), the questions about how many pounds I have packed on since I got pregnant, since my last appointment, since last week! Teased about putting on weight and comparing my body today to my body 6 months ago. Completely absurd, and though my weight has always been so nonchalantly brought into conversation, this new realm of rudeness just shocks me.

    Becoming pregnant doesn't change any of the rules of decorum. Just because the woman's body is now shared with another, doesn't mean it is public domain. Pregnancy is filled with discomforts already- let's all try not to become another one.

(Of course, the disclaimer on this is that there are always those close enough to say things without causing offense. Even still, just because Aaron's sister can say something without it ever crossing my mind as not okay, it doesn't mean that someone I barely know could say the exact same thing without being completely rude.)

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