In and of itself, pregnancy can run the gamut from "pleasant challenge" to "Hell on Earth that must be endured for the better part of a year." No matter how it shakes out, it requires some degree of mental and physical fortitude that (most) pregnant woman don't have to spare. Often the hardest part about being pregnant? Other people. While they can say and do some profoundly dumb or thoughtless crap, some of the cruelest things anyone could do to a pregnant woman are completely unintentional. The thoughtless person in question may, in fact, be completely unaware they're being thoughtless at all.
On the one hand I think people should be given the benefit of the doubt. Like, they've never been pregnant before (if they were it was a while ago, or maybe they had one of those magical pregnancies where they didn't have the same issues someone else is experiencing on the regular), so they probably don't know why what they've said or done is a problem. Other times, however, they're just being really obnoxious and should absolutely know better. In either scenario, I think everyone can stand to take a little more time and think before they act (or speak). Actually, that's a good life rule, right?
Here are some of the things you might want to think twice about, before doing to a pregnant woman. Make no mistake, she will remember this cruel scorn (or, ya know, flippant rudeness) for years to come.
Order A Sushi Boat
If the pregnant woman in question has chosen to forgo sushi on account of listeria/parasitic concerns, waving a scrumptious salmon roll in her face is just mean. If she does eat sushi while pregnant (I did!), it's still rough to do so in such a conspicuous, public manner. We prefer to do that quietly to avoid the concern-trolling of others.
If you want to get sushi with your pregnant friend, do her a solid and order in.
Go To Her Favorite Cocktail Place
In a cosmic twist of dramatic irony, the only thing that would make pregnancy bearable would be a stiff drink and it's one of the few things you really can't have. It's bad enough when we see you have a second glass of wine or a third beer — of course we would never begrudge you those things. But going someplace specifically known for delicious alcohol? Come on now.
Schedule An Event At An Amusement Park
You know how amusement parks are really fun with the exception of walking around in the heat and waiting on very long lines? Now imagine if all you could do at an amusement park was walk around in the heat and wait in lines. Now imagine you have swollen feet, an extra 10-50 pounds on you, sciatic nerve pain, and the need to pee every 15 minutes.
One person's amusement park is another pregnant person's seventh circle of hell.
Insist She Attend Your Vegas-Style Bachelorette Party
If she wants to go, hey, awesome! I hope you all have fun. However, there are a million reasons a pregnant woman might not be up for the debauchery. First of all, she very likely goes to bed around 8:30 p.m. these days. Asking her to rally through an entire evening and well into the morning is just cruel.
Second, she can't drink so there's, like, 75 percent of the night's activities. Going to a strip club? It's hard to get a lap dance with a pregnant belly in the way. And, elephant in the room here: being the pregnant friend at a crazy bachelorette party is like unofficially asking her to be the group's babysitter. It's not fun being the one responsible person among a throng of crazies.
Crack Fat Jokes
Some people — thoughtless people, really — seem to think that a woman being pregnant means that you can joke about her getting fat. Because, they figure, "It's not like she's fat, fat. She's getting pregnant. So I can tease her and she won't take it personally."
I promise you she will take it personally. So don't. Don't ever tease her (or, like, anyone) for being fat, even if she's pregnant. For one it's just crass and for another she's likely to be extra sensitive.
Side-Eye Her Baby's Name
It's just impolite and rude. Obviously this is something the mom-to-be takes seriously and has put more thought into than you. A baby's name is one of the first things their parents give them, and there's usually an important reason or meaning behind a particular name. Guys: I'm a ridiculously opinionated person and I have heard some truly hellacious baby names. If I have managed to hold my tongue then you can, too.
Be Condescending When Talking About Pregnancy And/Or Parenthood
Nobody likes a know-it-all. I get it: if you're a parent or you've been pregnant and you're seeing someone new to this whole parenthood thing, saying or doing something you think is silly, it's hard not to get a little haughty. But remember that you were once a n00b, too, and there was nothing more disheartening than being told all the things you're doing wrong by a seasoned mom.
Tell Her All The Reasons Having Children Is A Bad Idea
Going on about the sorry state of the world, overpopulation, or delivering a thesis on how having children just asserts patriarchal, gender norms is a) obnoxious, and b) not especially helpful, since your friend has obviously decided she wants to have a baby. In other words, your rant is a bit late and useless at this point. If you think having children is a terrible idea then don't have children. Don't tell someone else what they should be doing with their uterus.
Criticize Her Birth Plan
There are three people who get a say in how a woman's birth go down: her, her care provider, and, in an absolutely worst case scenario, her medical proxy. Even if you are her medical proxy, you really don't get a say unless that worst case scenario unfolds.
Your best bet is to just avoid bringing it up all together. If she wants to talk about it with you, she will bring it up. When she brings it up, you may ask questions, you may encourage her, but you may not undermine her or make her doubt herself, no matter how ridiculous you think her idea is.
"Not getting an epidural?! You're insane!"
"Getting an epidural? You're insane!"
"Home birth? Do you want to die?"
"VBAC? How selfish can you get?!"
"C-section? Why are you cheating?"
Save it, because there's a pretty good chance there's someone else telling her the opposite. She will talk to her care provider and do her research and make the best decision for herself. Your job as a friend or loved one is to support her in that decision (or, at the very least, disagree silently).
Rant About Working Moms/Stay-At-Home Moms
Chances are she's going to be one of those two things after the birth of her child. If her decision (which, very likely, is based on necessity rather than actual choice) bumps up against what you would prefer, keep it to yourself. Seriously, just save it. It doesn't affect you in the slightest and it's something that may already be the source of great ambivalence to the woman in question.
Tell Birth Horror Stories
Nobody needs that! Especially if the horror stories are very specific kind of "it was the weirdest thing no one could have prepared for" stories. The prospect of delivering a baby is terrifying enough without you throwing out haunting tales of bloody terror that will keep already sleepless pregnant brains awake at night.
Talk About Horrible Things That Can Happen To Babies
This is a nightmare and a huge source of anxiety and sadness for many, many pregnant women. Even before our babies are born, we worry something could happen. We have to live with the knowledge that there is nothing we can do to protect our babies against so much uncertainty. You don't have to remind us of these possibilities: some of us never stop thinking about them. You pulling that possibility from the back of our minds to the forefront is unnecessarily cruel.