Saturday, December 29, 2007

How (not) to deal with pregnant people at Christmas...or really at any time.

A few things that were appreciated and not while we were away at Christmas. All of these things applied to our trip. The do’s were done well. The don’ts, well, weren’t. Most of them were amusing in retrospect, but irritating at the time.

Do try to have something appetizing for her to eat and drink. Most pregnant women will be avoiding alcohol, and many will also be avoiding caffeine, at least in high doses. Some may be avoiding other foods they previously enjoyed, either to reduce risks to her health and that of her baby, or because they currently can’t stomach them. Others will have decided that the risks are ridiculously low, and be eating everything they always have.

Don’t try to dictate what she’s eating. If she wants a Pepsi, some shrimp or some tuna salad, just accept it. It’s her body, and her decision. If you feel there’s a risk she’s unaware of, mention it once in a non-confrontational way, and then let it go.

Do ask questions if you’re curious about things she’s doing or how she’s feeling. Just try not to get overly personal if you don’t know her well, and accept that she won’t want to discuss certain things. You are not her doctor.

Don’t assume that what your doctor told you when you were pregnant 50 years ago still applies. Medical knowledge and guidelines change over time. She doesn’t want to hear your rant on why she’s an idiot for worrying about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. After all, your kids were fine...

Do talk about your experiences while pregnant or while your partner was pregnant. She’ll be happy to know she is neither alone nor going insane. Cute stories of silly things you did, or minor issues you had will probably be amusing and relieving to her.

Don’t talk about your late-term miscarriage. If it happened recently and you’re still actively grieving, she’ll likely be willing to sympathize and help you get through it. But if it happened decades ago, it’s a story that can wait until after she’s given birth. This also applies to stories about 47-hour labours and 14-pound babies.

Do offer her a chair. She may not accept, but she’ll be grateful you thought of it. She may also pounce on the offer. Or just collapse into the chair.

Don’t just light up in front of her. Many pregnant women will be avoiding cigarette smoke, or at least trying to cut back if they’re smokers themselves. She will not appreciate your intentionally throwing toxins into the air around her. Unless you see her lighting up her own cigarette, assume she’s going to want you to go outside to have one yourself. This applies to anything illegal you might light as well.

Do tell her you won’t be offended if she wants to go have a nap. She may not feel comfortable abandoning you all mid-day, but she may wish she could.

Don’t make continuous comments about how much she’s eating, or how much weight she’s gained. If it’s not tactful to say to a non-pregnant person, assume a pregnant one doesn’t need to hear it either. No one will find it funny to be asked ‘What? Are you eating for four now?’ when they reach for a second helping of stuffing.

Above all, do remember that she’s still the same person you knew before. Apart a bit less emotional control, a few more idiosyncracies, and (hopefully) temporarily being a bit wider, of course.


FourPillars said...

What a great list! Hopefully all of these things haven't happened to you.

Another one for the list: If your daughter has just given birth the day before and is still recovering from a C-section, don't say "Hey, you look like you are still pregnant". This happened to my wife.


RacerX said...

It is amazing what people say, but it is worse what they will do!

When in the birthing center, many who dropped by either wouldn't leave or would stayu when uncomfortable/ private testing or measuring was happenning.

My tip is to pick out a third person (mom or mother-in-law) to keep people out and to keep other people informed as they also didn't know when to butt-out! either!

Fecundity said...

@fourpillars - Actually, they did all happen while we were visiting for Christmas. To be fair, Hubby's family has a Christas Eve open house, so a lot of the contributions came that night from the multitude of guests. Also, his grandmother is always good for tactless comments and advice. However, most people were just great. The 'dos' all happened too.

My personal favourite was the repeated comments on how much I was eating. The comments came from a man who weighs at least 300 pounds, none of it muscle. I think Hubby's hand on my knee was all that stopped me from saying something very rude that I'd later regret.

Lovely comment to your wife. Ouch. Hope her response was "That's funny, so do you." Hopefully my family will be more tactful...though I won't be holding my breath. ;)

@racerx - Ooh. That does sound fun. I'll definitely keep your advice in mind.

Brip Blap said...

That's a good list of tips. Mike's comment was quite true in our case, too - it took a couple days for my wife's "pregnantish" looks to go away after the C-section.

Do keep in mind, it's not always mean-spirited, though. Sometimes people are just stupid :)

Mrs. Micah said...

@fourpillars -- You'd be surprised how many women still look pregnant after giving birth. Especially C-Section, but even Post Partum. At work I see moms in their next few days and I'd say well over 50% look 9 months along and the rest look about 4-5 months.

The first time, I was really surprised but I resisted the urge to say "You got another one in there?" After going into the second and third rooms I thought "Oh, this is normal."

Good list, Fecundity. :) Especially the last one. Whenever someone has a life change--pregnant, married, baby, graduation, it can be tempting to talk to them only about that (and it can be tempting for them to only talk about that). But maybe they need a chance to talk about other stuff.

FourPillars said...

These comments are priceless! lol.

RacerX - I've heard this complaint from other people - usually it's relatives that want to "be there for the whole thing". Bad form for sure.

Fec. - it's a funny thing about some guys - they just don't apply the same standards to themselves when it comes to weight.

Fecundity said...

Good to know about the post-delivery figure still looking pregnant for a few days, everyone. That would probably not have been a pleasant surprise.

I'm hoping to encourage visitation by people when I'm feeling up to it in the hospital. I'm sure the first stage of labour can be pretty mind-numbing without various people to talk to. However, I definitely don't need anyone in there but Hubby for the more personal exams and such. I'll have to keep an eye on all four of our parents to see who the most promising bouncer will be.

Mrs. Micah, you're right about the one track mind of anyone having a life-changing experience. And I know I'm guilty of it too. I'm still amused by how much it weighs on other people's minds though. For example, no one at work seems to be able to have a conversation with me without checking out my stomach at least once. And I'm sure I've done it to other pregnant cowrokers too.

And, yeah, Mike, I've noticed that double standard. It somehow never ceases to amaze and annoy me. :)