You see, my wife has experienced nearly everything you should not do or should not say to a pregnant woman. Unfortunately, most of those things were perpetrated by me, her loving husband. This has happened so much to my wife that she has actually considered writing a book. She decided against it since the people that would need to read it probably wouldn’t.
My guess is, my wife is not the only pregnant woman to experience these injustices. So, if you are a mother, you will be able to relate to the following list of lessons. If you are not a mother, but you’ve ever been around a pregnant woman (husbands, this particularly applies to you), take note and learn from the guy that has made all the mistakes.
Let’s start with the obvious, “Are you pregnant?” It’s a massive gamble and never a good question to ask. If she is indeed expecting, she will automatically assume you are asking this question because she is showing and many women aren’t fans of this stage. If she isn’t pregnant ... well, all I can say is watch out. There is probably a purse being swung in your direction.
“You are HUGE!” is never a compliment and will not be received as such.
“You look like you are about to pop!” is a little less offensive, but falls in the same vein — especially if the expectant mother is only six months pregnant. They probably already know this and certainly don’t want to hear it from you.
“You look like you are having twins!” See above list of reasons not to say this.
Another tragic mistake not perpetrated by me (my favorite kind) had a good friend of ours approached by a seemingly sweet woman at church and say, “I bet you are having a boy.” The expectant mother asked why. “Because women get uglier when they are carrying a boy.” Do I really need to explain this one? And yes, this really happened.
Touching an expectant mother’s belly is also not a good idea — although often violated (husbands, you may have a bye on this lesson, but I’d go to the judge for a ruling on this first ... the judge being your wife).
We were once in a store when a woman walked up to my wife and started rubbing her belly. This is almost always inappropriate and a major violation of generally accepted boundaries, as well as a bit awkward. Many expectant mothers have had this experience, if not worse; in one such case, a stranger lifted a woman’s shirt to rub her belly. Argh!
Here is how to apply the rule. If you don’t have permission to randomly touch a woman’s belly before they are pregnant, you don’t have permission to do it now.
On the to-do list, offer help lifting or opening doors although you may want to judge the mood of said pregnant woman. On occasion, my wife has told me, “I am pregnant, not dying; get out of my way!”
On the issue of mood, never say, “You seem more moody when you are pregnant.” Really? Avoid this comment unless you really want to see a mood swing.
Ultimately, we all love expectant mothers. It is the joy of life that excites us all. Just take it from me. Don’t allow that excitement to get you carried away. Trust me, I know.
(Editor’s Note: Matt has a family of six — a beautiful, pregnant wife, a son, a daughter and of course, Tucker and Boomer, the family dogs. Matt’s column appears every Wednesday in the Cleveland Daily Banner.)