Pregnant women are precious; they are growing a new human being. This magical quality means that pregnant women get extra attention. It’s not always MORE attention though. I’d say it’s a DIFFERENT kind of attention than the kind they’d normally get.
I remember how many strangers would come and talk to me when I was pregnant. Most of those interactions were lovely. But some weren’t. Some were downright rude and inconsiderate or thoughtless. In my Facebook group, I get to read about a lot of the things that upset pregnant women so I thought I’d bring some of them together so that we can all come together and do more to support women who are pregnant; the future mamas of this world need to be supported and encouraged!
If you feel the urge to reach out to a pregnant woman and help her, then here are some things to avoid.
Don’t say things that will scare her or make her fearful
A pregnant woman’s emotional state is precious. The emotions and thoughts she experiences are felt by her baby, so when she’s feeling stressed or anxious then her baby will too. The increased levels of stress, fear and anxiety will affect her levels of adrenaline and cortisol in her system which primes the baby to be more stressed and agitated as a baby. Science tells us that a stressed pregnant woman is more likely to have a baby who suffers from things like allergies, eczema and asthma.
Your words are powerful. A pregnant woman is very susceptible and sensitive. Her fluctuating hormones makes her vulnerable and means that she could react emotionally to little throwaway comments that you say. Please be mindful that you are in the presence of someone e growing a human being. A human being who can hear and understand you. Babies hear from 20 weeks and they understand intentions.
So, don’t share scary birth stories with her. If she asks to hear it, go for it, but if she doesn’t, zip it!
Don’t judge her for her birth choices
To be quite frank, her birth choices are none of your business. HOW she chooses to birth her baby – whether vaginally or by c-section – is up to her. WHERE she chooses to birth her baby – whether at home or in a hospital – is up to her and her partner. If you think that home births are dangerous and are putting her at risk, then don’t show yourself up as being ignorant and do your homework.
Be curious and supportive. Seek to understand. Being pregnant can inspire women to undertake a mammoth learning experience as they get to grips with this momentous experience that’s hurtling towards them. How about just listening? You never know, you might just learn something!
Don’t tell her how big she looks
Tell her she looks fab! Whatever you do, don’t tell her how big she looks or how she’s ready to pop. Jeez! #facepalm
Don’t pester her for baby updates
If she’s due soon, don’t pester her for baby updates. She does not need your relentless texts or WhatsApp messages asking for baby news. Back off and give her space. She will announce it when she’s ready.
Don’t make her stand
Offer her a seat. If you’re on public transport or even in a waiting area, then offer her the chance to sit down. Being pregnant means carrying a load that’s pretty heavy for your legs to carry all day. Sitting down can be a huge relief. Depending on where she is in her pregnancy, she might be desperate for a seat. I remember during my second pregnancy, that for the last two months I thought my daughter was going to fall out; it felt like she was poking through the whole time. I wanted to sit down, just to make sure she didn’t come out early. As it happened she was late – it was just my body having been stretched first time around and my baby being low, but it meant I wanted to sit down as much as I could.
Don’t touch her belly
If you have an urge to, ask first. How would you feel if someone just started stroking your arms or legs without asking? It would be icky, to say the least!
Don’t invite yourself (or others!) to the birth
Birthing a baby is an intimate moment. Don’t assume that you will be invited to be present. Even if you are invited, be prepared for her to change her mind. And if she does, don’t give her any crap for it. She might have invited you before she knew about the best environment for giving birth.
If this a struggle for you, then let me invite you to consider how you’d feel about these situations;
- you having a poo. Would you invite a team of people to watch you poo and then wipe yourself?
- you having sex. Would you like to have others in the room while you have sex?
Birth is on par with these two experiences in terms of intimacy. So, if you’re not prepared to say yes to either of the above then I hope you will understand why she might change her mind having you there.
Wait for her to ask and allow her to change her mind
If you’re pregnant and can think of any other things that people do that you’d rather they didn’t, let me know in the comments.
Alexia supports families planning pregnancy and birth. She helps them to overcome their fears and feel calm and confident about birth and pregnancy.
Alexia also trains birth professionals in the Fearless Birthing, a unique approach to birth preparation that is ideal for those who have fears around birth.