Pregnancy Etiquette

As you know, I have a precious bun in the oven, and this incredible miracle has taught me more about pregnancy etiquette than I could have ever dreamed of. It’s truly a magical and blissful time, highlighted by thrilling monthly milestones, celebrations with family and friends, and of course nesting. It is also a time to be sensitive to the mother-to-be and expecting couple, and mindful of appropriate etiquette. While most people have wonderful intentions, I myself have experienced quite a few eyebrow raising comments and gestures during my pregnancy (albeit no one is perfect!), and so of course it inspired me to do a little writing. As I always say dear readers, the cornerstone to etiquette is making others feel comfortable and shining as your best self, so when in doubt, use that mantra as your modern manners compass! And so, here are my tips on pregnancy etiquette. Enjoy!

Mother-to-be

  • Touching the bump: Whether you welcome friends and family to touch the bump or prefer to keep it a hands-off zone is entirely up to you. Either way, be sure to communicate it to those around you. For instance, if you don’t desire belly rubs, consider resting your folded hands on  your tummy or even holding your purse in front of the bump a la Grace Kelly aka Princess Grace of Monaco to give a subtle signal.
  • Unsolicited Advice: Everyone will be chomping at the bit to share advice, and some of it will be helpful and some of it will not. Either way, graciously say “Thanks for sharing your experience,” and then you can continue the conversation if you choose or change the subject.
Family, friends, colleagues, etc.
  • Touching the bump: If you’re so inclined to touch a mother-to-be’s bump, always politely ask first, as you don’t want to make her uncomfortable. In the event she says she would prefer no rubbing of the belly, be respectful of her wishes. Also, take note of her cues (listed above) and if you notice any of these, it’s a subtle way of her saying she prefers no belly rubs.
  • Questions/comments to avoid: As obvious as these may seem, I have been asked some of these questions and also seen others make these remarks. Strive to be sensitive and avoid these when chatting with expecting moms:
    • “Are you pregnant?” or “I know you’re pregnant! Am I right?”
    • “Was it planned?”
    • “Are you positive you’re not having twins?”
    • “Are you sure you want to be pregnant? I had an awful experience.”
    • “Wait, you’re not coming back to work? That’s a mistake,” or “You’re planning to stay home with the baby? You will be so bored!”
    • “You’re how far along? You don’t even look pregnant.”
    • “Do you know how miserable you’ll be this summer/winter when you’re due? It will be so hot/cold, gosh I feel bad for you!”
  • Remarks about her weight: A women’s weight and size of her bump needs to be of only her concern. Refrain from commenting on her weight gain or the size of the bump, and opt for “You look beautiful!”
  • Being considerate: Whether offering your seat on the train or holding a door open, try to be considerate of pregnant mammas – they will greatly appreciate it!
  • Commenting on the gender: When I shared the gender of Baby U with an acquaintance, she started hysterically laughing which made me very uncomfortable. Boy or girl, when someone tells you the gender of their baby, say “How wonderful!” “That’s fantastic” or another cheerful exclamation.
  • Baby showers: If a relative or dear friend is expecting and you have the ability to do so, consider giving her a baby shower. Baby showers are a fabulous opportunity to shower mom and baby with love and the essentials she will need to care for the little one. I have had such a ball hosting baby showers with my girlfriends and it has meant so much to the mammas we’ve celebrated.
  • Unsolicited advice and opinions: Everyone seems to have unsolicited advice and stories for pregnant women (from being a working mom to the birth plan). However, it’s best to let her ask for advice than for you to give it. Also, try to keep the focus on the mamma and not your own experiences and preferences – at the end of the day, she will figure out what works best for her.
  • Negative Nancy: Some women treasure pregnancy while others have a more challenging nine months. If you are in the latter set, aim not to be a Debbie Downer with other pregnant moms, and avoid sharing “horror stories,” and complaining about how terrible your experience was. You are absolutely entitled to feel this way, however it’s best not to rain on someone else’s parade.

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