Think before you speak (to a pregnant woman)

pregnant sabrinaI gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy named J.R. in February of this year.

Becoming a mother has changed my life completely and I’m sure there will be many more blog entries inspired by my new little guy. However, this blog was inspired by the things that people said to me when I was pregnant — things that didn’t sit quite right with me.

I would advise you to not utter these common statements if you encounter a pregnant woman.

Statement 1: “I don’t like that name.”

Well maybe I don’t like your name! Have you ever thought about that? Totally joking. This is not a positive way to respond when someone expresses their disapproval of the baby name you have selected. But guess what? It isn’t their baby to name. This person likely has their own children, animals and plants to name. It is NOT their choice.

You are the one who is pregnant, carrying the baby around for 40 weeks, losing sleep and mourning the loss of your skinny jeans. You have the right to name your child. If you ask someone for their opinion on your name choice, then be prepared for an honest response. But never, ever, ever should someone offer it without you first asking.

Statement 2: “I can’t believe you aren’t breastfeeding.”

Breastfeeding is a touchy subject for most women. Those who have had positive experiences and know all of the health benefits (for both mom and baby) are very pro-breastfeeding. Those who have had a negative experience or who have chosen not to breastfeed will tell you about their struggles.

I find it unfair that society paints women who breastfeed children publicly as exhibitionists who need to hide in a closet — and then condemns women who bottle-feed as too career-oriented, selfish or unnatural.

My pediatrician shared with me a motto which I will now re-share: “Whatever works for you, works for you.” We are all aware that “breast is best” and there is a ton of research out there proving this – but sometimes due to health reasons, work schedules or personal preference formula is chosen. Provide helpful information, if you have it – but don’t push.

The last thing a pregnant lady needs is for you to be stressing her out about how she has decided to feed her child.

Statement 3: “Wow, you are huge.”

You should have gone with, “Wow, you are glowing!” That is a much safer statement to make to a pregnant woman. We are pregnant, not overweight. We have a miracle growing inside of us and that should be celebrated. Even if you aren’t trying to be mean, talking about how large and in charge someone is isn’t cool.

I didn’t hear this until after I had the baby. People would say to me, “You looked miserable and ready to pop those last couple of months” — which I interpreted as “Five months ago you looked like a whale/M&M candy hybrid, but today you’re looking foxy.”

Statement 4: “I loved being pregnant.”

It is my personal belief that out of the 10 women who tell you this, five of them are lying.

Pregnancy has a lot of incredible moments – like the first time you feel a kick or see your sweet baby during an ultrasound – but I wouldn’t want to live in my pregnant state. I had severe morning sickness for the first four months. Once my belly popped out and people could see I was pregnant I thought it was super cute; however, the big belly made it hard to sleep comfortably, walk or sit. I remember one day I got down on the floor to do some stretches and I couldn’t get up. I was laid out like a cockroach trying to roll from side to side trying to gain momentum.

My favorite awkward pregnancy story involves my mother. She gained 60 pounds with me and got stuck behind the driver’s seat of her sports car. She had to roll down her window at the grocery store and wait for someone to pass by and ask for help.

The point is, a lot of women don’t “love” being pregnant because it is hard on their bodies. By month 8 I was ready for it to be over and for the baby fun to begin. When I heard someone gush about how they could “be pregnant all the time” it made me feel like I was doing pregnancy wrong.

Statement 5: “Being a working mom is so hard.” Both working moms and stay-at-home moms work. If you work a 9-5, your work is never over. Because once you pick up Junior from daycare or Granny’s house, you are on your next shift as “Mommy” from 5-9. Your downtime is filled with bottles to wash, diapers to change, tummy time, snuggle time and laundry. You are really lucky if you get a chance to do something frivolous like cook a meal for yourself or workout.

And if you do not work a 9-5, you work a 24-hour shift as “Mommy.”I was blessed to have a mother who had time to be a PTO member, Girl Scout Leader and carpooling cheer mom. She was at all of my games when I was a cheerleader and at all of my concerts when I was in choir. Even though she didn’t have to go “into the office” daily, her time was filled up with other obligations – which mostly involved me and my activities. For me, being a “stay-at-home” mom is just as hard because you don’t have the option to clock- out for lunch.


Angel Kane - Kane & Crowell Family Law Center

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