Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pregnancy Etiquette 101

As I close in on the end of my first pregnancy, I've been contemplating the do's and don'ts of interacting with pregnant women. Here we go...


1. Tell a pregnant woman that she's "glowing." Yeah, it may not be true and we may even be fully aware that it's not true, but we're also vulnerable enough to believe anything anyone tells us, especially if it makes us feel like we're part of some miraculous process rather than victims of an unfortunate illness.

2. Make comments about the bump looking like a basketball. One of the best things I've been told is that I'm carrying the baby all out front like a basketball. I've seen the stretch marks on my hips and thighs, so I know that this baby weight is dispersed over a much wider swath than just my belly, but please lie to me anyway.

3. Offer me your seat/hold the door/pick things up that I drop on the floor. I'm not a big fan of playing the pregnancy card, but the truth is that it's very touching when friends, family members, and even random strangers offer to help out.

4. Touch my belly. This is totally personal preference, but it really doesn't bug me when people touch my belly, especially because I've found that almost everyone asks first. I'm excited and proud to be pregnant and people touching my belly simply lets me know that they're excited about it too.

5. Tell me about your pregnancy, labor, delivery, and kids. I've been amazed at how animated so many women become when they are talking about their own experiences with pregnancy and the early days of motherhood. It's really touching to see seemingly hard-ass women melt when talking about their kids. I'm also all in favor of receiving as much advice as people want to give me. It's completely free, makes people feel like they are helping, gives me some ideas, and it's totally up to me to follow it or not.

Don't (many of these are courtesy my mother-in-law):

1. Ask a pregnant woman how much weight she's gained. I would think this would go without saying, but apparently not. There's pretty much no way in hell that I want anyone to know the exact number of pounds I've gained. I am hardly willing to tally it up myself.

2. Make any comments suggesting that she/the baby is big. This would include saying things like, "Wow, you're only 7 months along! I thought you were further along than that." or "Does your doctor tell you that he's going to be a big baby?" or "I can't believe you're only X weeks more pregnant than Jane, she looks so much littler than you." I am of the belief that pregnancy should be a nine month hiatus from feeling self-conscious about your body.

3. Insist that she take your chair/let you carry something, etc. I am always happy when people offer to help me out, but I get truly annoyed when they insist on something. As an example, at one of my showers, my aunt offered me her chair (nice). I said thanks, but that I was more comfortable standing. She made a huge fuss over it and wouldn't shut up until I took her chair. The problem is that I was truly more comfortable standing. At that time, I had a baby's butt stuck in my rib cage and standing was the only thing that gave him the space he needed to disengage his tush from my ribs.

4. Give me advice that I've already chosen not to follow. Yes, I understand that you may feel like a minivan is the only possible mode of transportation for a family, but please don't tell me this repeatedly right after I show you our new SUV. At that point, it's not advice, since I've clearly already made a decision. Instead, it's just a passive guilt trip.

5. Tell me my birth plan is stupid. The way in which women give birth is a highly personal and individualized decision and I totally respect that fact. We are planning for a natural birth, but I wouldn't consider judging someone who opts for a medicated birth or even a planned C-section. Different strokes for different folks. What bugs me is when I tell people that we are taking Bradley classes and planning for a natural birth and they reply, "Good luck with that. That'll change as soon as you feel a contraction." I just find it such a cynical response. Even if you are completely right and I cave the instance my cervix starts dilating, please be polite enough to say, "That's great. I really hope it goes how you want it to." All the doubting comments from friends, family, and strangers are actually giving me more motivation to go natural. I'm starting to dread the thought of telling some of these naysayers that I got an epidural.

6. Ask me what we're naming it. I've made this mistake myself in the past before being pregnant. It really puts people on the spot and creates an awkward situation when I have to explain that we aren't sharing names in advance. Instead, I like it when people simply say, "Are you sharing the name in advance?" This gives me the clear option of saying, "No" and conveys that the person understands that many people don't want to share the name until the birthday rolls around.

I've been mulling these over all day and hope that I have the memory capacity to follow them the rest of my life. When you aren't pregnant, it's sort of easy to forget how some seemingly meaningless comments can sting.

In other news, we had a day full of doctor's appointments on Tuesday. My GD is well-controlled by adjustments to my diet, so I've been given the go-ahead to check my blood sugar 4x per day rather than 7. We also did a growth ultrasound on Tuesday to make sure the baby's not too big since that's the risk with GD babies. Luckily, he's in the 53rd percentile, weighting 6.5 pounds right now and on track to be about 8 pounds at 40 weeks. I also got my first internal and am 1 cm dilated and 60% effaced. At 36.5 weeks, it doesn't mean much, but I'm still encouraged to know my body's headed in the right direction. If I haven't gone into labor on my own by 40 weeks, I'll have to be induced, which I'm trying to avoid because it's harder to go natural since medically induced contractions are supposedly stronger and more painful. Being dilated at all is great because it gives my midwife the space she'll need to strip my membranes at 38.5 weeks if I haven't gone into labor yet.

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