Pregnancy is truly a magical period. Growing a little human inside of you is an experience like no other. For some, it is smooth sailing all the way, for others, pregnancy comes with a plethora of strange and awkward symptoms. I didn’t say that pregnancy is a good type of magical all the way: achy back, morning sickness, swollen feet, heartburn. As a pregnant woman, you know the rest. And it’s not just one day or one week but nine months. Approximately 273 days, 6570 hours, but I wasn’t counting.
No wonder pregnant women can get cranky. The rush of hormones doesn’t help either. These pesky chemicals seem to turn their brain inside out. *If you want to know more about The Main Pregnancy Hormones and How they make you feel, then follow this link*.
Sometimes interacting with a pregnant woman is like walking on light bulbs. You pray the bulbs don’t break and all hell breaks loose. Pregnant women can be so confusing, right? Especially for men. What happened? She used to laugh at this joke. Why is she crying now???
Well, if you feel the same when you are around a pregnant woman, then read on. This is a useful guide on how to handle a pregnant woman without breaking the light bulb.
1. Don’t touch the belly
Ever heard of personal space? Yeah, you wouldn’t go around touching random people’s bellies now, would you? It would be terribly weird and uncomfortable. The belly is a personal thing, regardless of whether there is a tiny human growing in there or not. I can tell you from experience; not all women enjoy having their bellies touched even if it’s with moist eyes and affection. But if you absolutely cannot help yourself and you really, really have to touch her belly, asking the belly’s owner would be good. Of course, this doesn’t apply to the one who helped create the belly or very close people.
2. Having a cold? Stay away!
Did you know that a pregnant woman’s immune system is weaker than yours or mine? NHS says that it is nature’s clever way of ensuring that your body’s little defense soldiers don’t consider the pregnancy as a foreign organism and attack it.
Knowing this, if you have a cold, just stay away from baby bumps. A virus can complicate things for a pregnant woman as it can potentially affect the baby. Not to mention that pregnant women can’t take any flu medication, so besides all the pregnancy symptoms, let’s add cold symptoms to that. Life is glorious, indeed!
3. Think twice about kissing
I don’t mean to be a party-pooper, but as a pregnant lady, you should think twice about kissing people. Saliva can carry some nasty viruses and bacteria. Now, we already know about the lower immune system, so exchanging saliva is not that appealing for a pregnant woman for all the reasons listed above.
Even if the person believes to be health personified, s/he can still carry bugs that will affect the mom-to-be.
4. Assumptions are a minefield
When talking to a pregnant woman, don’t make various assumptions. They are annoying for a non-pregnant person, but for a hormone ridden woman, they can potentially be…explosive. Don’t assume the baby’s sex just by looking at the shape of the belly or the way s/he will come out. Some women want a natural birth, but due to medical reasons, they can’t. Or maybe they want a C-section for purely personal reasons. It’s a sensitive subject, so don’t assume anything.
Don’t assume the bump’s age. Call it bigger, and the pregnant woman will think you are calling her fat, smaller, and the pregnant woman will think you are accusing her of not feeding her little human properly. You can’t win this one, so don’t assume.
Pregnant women are emotionally delicate, so any assumptions that are far from the truth will make her question her actions and whether she has been doing the right things for her and her baby.
5. Don’t annoy the pregnant woman
In this situation, I have one word for you: hormones!
The obvious question is, How can I avoid annoying her? Well, you know, it could be anything from a stupid joke to breathing too loudly. So, I’ve got no advice for this one except perhaps…don’t breathe loudly?
Joking aside, try to be understanding when your lady snaps at you for no apparent reason. Her brain is marinating in a pool of hormones that are making her act funny.
6. Support the culinary changes
Pregnancy is the time when many women decide to make some changes in their eating habits. That means bye-bye to junk food, caffeine, sushi, alcohol or homemade ice-cream (read more about what food to avoid during pregnancy)
Just to make it clear, it means bye-bye for you, too. As the supportive partner that you are, you will have to adopt the new diet. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a very well hidden secret stash. Just make sure the mom-to-be doesn’t discover it. It’s for your own sake.
7. Listen to her complain
When a pregnant woman complains about back-aches, morning sickness, swollen feet, and so on, she wants you to listen and be supportive. I mean, really listen. Answers like uh-huh, while you’re watching TV, are a shortcut to a meltdown. So whether you are, her partner or her friend try to put yourself in her shoes and empathize. A massage, a foot rub, or breakfast in bed are also very welcome.
If you are a friend who is already a mom, don’t start explaining how your symptoms were much worse than hers. Don’t minimize her discomfort. That’s not what the owner of the current bump wants to hear. She wants sympathy and understanding. Plus, as an ex-owner of a bump, you have passed on to the other side. Now you have the right to complain about dirty nappies or toddler tantrums. Pregnancy is not your field anymore.
8. Don’t nag
Although the pregnant woman is interested to hear the story of other baby bumps, she doesn’t want to be nagged about what she should eat, how she should walk, or in what position she should sleep.
Do you have four children? That’s great. That still doesn’t mean you possess absolute wisdom. Each pregnancy is unique, and you trying to impose your experiences, and beliefs will not go well with the mom-to-be. Each woman wants to believe that she is able to make the best decision for her baby.
9. Be creative
When you see a pregnant woman, the obvious conversation topic will be the bump. There are standard questions that a woman hears as soon as her bump is visible: how far along are you? Is it a boy or a girl? Have you decided on the name? When’s the due date? C-section or natural birth?
These are common questions, but a pregnant woman hears them so often that she ends up reciting the answers like a bored telemarketer making his pitch for the 50th time that day. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take an interest in her pregnancy. Just remember that the soon-to be-mommy is still a person who has interests outside pregnancy and would love to talk about something else other than nipple cream, breast pads, or water-based bottom wipes.
10. Adjust your vocabulary
Pregnant women are sensitive, and something as simple as a wrong word could set off a verbal rampage of what looks like a herd of buffalos followed by a veritable waterfall of tears. So, for your own sake, avoid words like the lump when talking about her belly, bloated, swollen, or wide when talking about her figure. Avoid interjections like ‘wow’ when she’s weighing herself or silly sentences like Look, honey. I can fit in your trousers now.
For men and friends who don’t have children, pregnancy is a mystery, and its symptoms are baffling. Being there for her, telling her how pretty she looks, understanding, and accepting all the new quirks, giving her cute gifts will help.
And if ever this thought crosses your mind What’s the big deal with pregnancy and birth anyway? I had a bad cold once, and I didn’t complain, try living with heartburn, constipation, swollen parts of your body, a virtually inexistent bladder, crazy mood swings for nine months. Then, at the end of it all, try squeezing a small melon through your nostrils. Now you have an idea.