The sight of a pregnant woman can make otherwise normal, polite people lose all sense of social decorum and boundaries. When you're not pregnant, it would be very unusual and rude for total strangers to ask you personal questions or randomly touch your stomach. Still, once people presume, (sometimes incorrectly) that you're pregnant, all bets are off, which is why there are things every pregnant woman wants strangers to know. For example, and for starters: pregnant people are still people. They might not want random folks touching them or asking them about their sex life. Strange, right?
When I was about six months pregnant, I had a woman start asking me about my birthing decisions in the middle of the grocery store. I was somewhat taken aback, as it was obviously the wrong time, the wrong place, and she was the wrong person to be discussing my birth plan with. It's not only strangers that may need to mind their business, either. Acquaintances or work colleagues also need to know the type of questions and actions that are appropriate, and the ones that aren't.
A good rule of thumb for knowing how to behave around a pregnant person is to treat them, you know, like a regular human. Of course, that includes keeping your hands to yourself. Just because a woman is pregnant doesn't mean she's lost her right to bodily autonomy and personal space. So, with that in mind, here are a few things moms-to-be want strangers to just know:
You're Not Allowed To Touch My Body
Some pregnant people are totally fine with strangers touching their growing bump. However, you can't possibly know unless you ask. So, please don't just touch someone else unless you have their complete permission. Otherwise, you're just being creepy and invasive.
You're Not Allowed To Ask Me About Conception
I still can't believe people ask this question, but apparently it's still a thing. Don't ask about how long it took us to get pregnant, whether we did it "naturally," or if our pregnancy was "planned or an accident." Just, no.
I can't imagine any other situation where total strangers would feel comfortable asking you about your sex life. The fact that sex (maybe, because again you don't know) resulted in a pregnancy shouldn't make people forget all their manners.
You're Not Allowed To Ask Me About My Birth Plans
Just as it is rude and unnecessary for strangers to ask pregnant people how the baby got in their body, the same etiquette apply for asking how the baby will get out of her body. It's none of your business and it's a highly personal decision that doesn't need to be opened up to outside judgment or scrutiny.
I Probably Need That Seat More Than You
I get it. On my morning commute I can get into a vibe where I tune out everyone around me. However, if a pregnant woman boards the subway, bus, or train, and obviously need a seat, please, offer yours.
It can be hard enough to hold on during a bumpy journey, let alone when your center of gravity is being thrown off by a mini-passenger inside your body. Most pregnant women would probably (read: definitely) appreciate the chance to sit down in.
You're Not Allowed To Talk About My Body
Please don't comment on the size, shape, or height of a woman's bump. Don't speculate on "how she is carrying" or whether that means she is expecting a boy or a girl. Don't mention the size or shape of the rest of her body or predict how quickly she will "lose the baby weight."
In fact, just don't talk about people's bodies at all. Ever. Period.
Please Don't Try To Predict The Birth Date
Strangers will often follow a script when interacting with a pregnant woman. They acknowledge the pregnancy, then usually ask, "How far along are you?" When you ask this question, please don't dispute the answer. Don't argue dates or exclaim that she looks like she's "due any minute."
I had a stranger ask me if she needed to call a doctor because I was "about to blow." Guys, I still had two full months to go before my due date.
You're Not Allowed To Police Me
If pregnant women are seen engaging in risky behaviors, it tends to make most people pretty uncomfortable. For example, seeing a mom-to-be smoking or not wearing a seat belt can be especially jarring. However, a woman still has liberties and rights even though she is carrying a child. The Center for Reproductive Rights warns that penalizing and criminalizing women for conduct during pregnancy can put mothers, and children, at greater risk.
I found I was subjected to judgement for simply enjoying a cup of coffee while I was pregnant. Not cool.
I Appreciate The Positivity
As much as I sometimes found strangers to be nosy when I was pregnant, I did also find them, on the whole, to be very friendly. People smile at you when you are pregnant. You represent happiness to a lot of people and they often mirror that positivity back at you.
So, if you are happy to be pregnant and are experiencing a healthy uncomplicated pregnancy, sometimes a little positive attention can be a nice thing. Just as long as no one touches you without your permission.