Some people leave tact at the door when they're around pregnant women and often come out with things they wouldn't dream of saying to someone who wasn't carrying a child...
Why is it that people seem to view a pregnant woman as public property? When you’re expecting it may feel as though normal social rules about personal space and privacy go out the window and that an open season is declared on your private life and decisions. Whether it’s intrusive comments or just the same old questions over and over again, prepare to be surprised at how rude, nosy and insensitive some people can be.
So here’s a list of the top 25 things guaranteed to get your gander when you’re pregnant. Scroll through them using the arrows above the picture, or click on the image to get to the next slide.
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‘Touch the bump, lose the hand!’ People come over all touchy feely when they see a pregnant lady and even random strangers in the street may feel they have a right to stroke your baby bump. So what do you do when faced with bad bump etiquette? You could simply rub their stomachs back and see how they like it. A friend of mine, when asked by a stranger whether they could have a feel replied, ‘Only if I can have a feel of your boobs!’ Point made, I think.
‘Apart from the sickness, exhaustion and the fact I have to pee every 5 minutes I’m just dandy, thanks.’
‘No, I’m just really fat.’ Polite society dictates that we don’t comment on people’s weight except, it seems, when you’re pregnant. Suddenly every Tom, Dick or Harry seems to think it’s OK to pass comment on your changing body. Sometimes it’ll be rude comments about weight gain, other times it may be comments about weight distribution, the size and shape of your bump, or speculation as to your baby’s gender. ‘Oh you’re all out front, it must be a boy.’
‘And you’re a bit old to be so damned rude!’
No, the condom split while we were swinging from the chandeliers! Why is it when you’re pregnant that people you hardly know feel able to ask intrusive questions about your sex life, contraception and family planning? Just tell them to mind their own business.
It’s an unpleasant fact of pregnancy that every woman under the sun seems to want to scare the be-Jesus out of you with their unsolicited horror stories. While you want to think about scented candles, foot rubs and bonding with your bump, they want to tell about forceps, stitches and emergency Caesareans.
When someone embarks on their personal tale of woe you could always stick your fingers in your ears and go ‘La la la, can’t hear you’. That should shut them up quick.
Watch out, it’s a trap! People can be rude enough about your name choices once you’ve actually registered your baby’s birth. Let them know this early on and they’ll have a field day. I’d always wanted Isobel for a girl until a friend kept saying ‘Is a bell necessary on a bicycle?’
‘No, I’m not. I’ll be selling it on eBay once it arrives!’
This is another one of those intrusive questions you may get asked while waiting for the bus or queuing for lunch in the office canteen. The chances are that the woman asking it is going to be a fully paid-up member of the breast-feeding police. One way or another you are getting the ‘breast is best’ sermon, so you might as well antagonise her by telling her that you feel breasts are for sex, not babies. Then just stand back and watch her blow.
‘Thanks for reminding me that I’m usually as flat as a pancake.’
‘Yeah give me piles and heartburn any day of the week!’ Some people feel blooming marvellous during pregnant, others feel blooming awful. For many it’s a mixed bag. The first trimester can be tough going with hormone swings and morning sickness, the middle one is often more enjoyable, while the final weeks can feel a bit of an endurance test.
Whichever camp you fall into, there’s something rather smug and self-satisfied about someone asking this particular question. As far as I’m concerned, all Earth Mother types can go join the breast-feeding police, the insensitive sods and the rude individuals in Room 101.
‘Yep, my husband and I go at it like rabbits and I just keep popping them out like I’m shelling peas. We’re going for the full football team, you know.’
‘Yes, I had it a few weeks back. I just thought I’d stuff a cushion up there for fun.’
‘Enjoy a good gloat, do you?’ Everyone knows that sleepless nights and new babies go hand in hand. All you’re looking for here is a little sympathy for the fact that your heavily pregnant body has parted you from a healthy night’s shut-eye.
‘No you’re right, I am selfishly and reckless endangering the health of my unborn baby. Thank you so much for pointing this out to me.’ Fair comment if you’re smoking 20 Woodbines a day, but if you’re just having an occasional cup of coffee or a glass of champagne at a friend’s wedding then it really is nobody’s business but your own.
Most women understand that the best laid birth plans are not set in stone. Some women hope for a natural birth, others want to have an epidural. Some women have no choice in the matter and need to have elective Caesareans. But while there are no guarantees that you’ll get the birth you want, it’s not nice to have someone else ridicule your birth choices as though you are stupidly naïve and in for a reality check.
‘Yep. I’m planning on taking this ‘eating for two’ thing to a whole new level.’
‘Really? We’re looking forward to them!’ Why are people such harbingers of doom. Why can’t they say what a special precious time it is when you first bring your baby home from hospital. That these are the memories you’ll treasure for ever.
We’ve all met them – people who always manage to turn a conversation back on themselves. Whatever you’ve done, they’ve done it better. Whatever you’re suffering, they suffered worse. If you’ve got morning sickness they had hyperemesis. If you’ve got a sore back they had Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. They’re the same people who you’ll find at play group in a few years’ time mouthing off about what a genius their little Charlie is turning out to be.
‘Give me a chance! I’ve not got this one out yet.’
‘Yeah, I have. Good job I’ve also developed a thick skin.’
‘So what you’re actually saying is that I’m old, wrinkly with clapped out ovaries. Thanks!’ There’s a fair bit of ‘older mum-bashing’ around. Women who leave it to start a family are often criticised for gambling with their fertility and risking their own and their baby’s health.
But there are real advantages to being an older mum. You are more likely to be well established in your career, financially secure and more likely to be in a stable relationship. In fact, a recent study found that the children of older mums are likely to be healthier and more intelligent.
‘Lucky you won’t have to.’
‘I’m hoping it’s a baby!’ A harmless question which is well-intended but one you’re likely to hear so often it may well drive you slowly mad.