My husband and I are expecting our first child in February and I’ve been asked a lot of invasive questions lately. From what I understand, this is pretty much par for the course for expectant moms but I’m wondering if it has anything to do with how social media is affecting us as a society. We post our lives online and I think that gives others confidence to ask us intimate details about our lives and choices, regardless of how much or how little we actually share.
Or maybe when people see a pregnant belly, they figure that because the woman is growing a new person inside of her, every intimate detail about her is now fair game.
7 Questions Strangers Need to Stop Asking Pregnant Women
1. Was your pregnancy planned?
Whether this pregnancy was planned or a surprise, this is literally no one’s business but the parents’ and frankly, it’s irrelevant. She’s obviously planning to have the baby regardless of how surprised she might have been at learning of baby’s imminent arrival.
|“But we need to know if the baby is a result of a broken condom!”|
2. How long are you going to keep working?
This question might not seem like a big deal since obviously the mother is going to need to take some time off to, you know, give birth to a new person. This question is also of importance to people like the mother’s partner, employer, etc. Family and close friends are also fine to ask this question because it’s something I’d most likely discuss with them anyway.
When it comes down to it, I really don’t think it’s a stranger’s business how long I’m going to keep working. I think this question also bothers me because inevitably, the same strangers who feel entitled to ask me this question also feel empowered enough to argue one way or the other. Some people feel very strongly that I should quit working and stay at home full-time with my son and others think I should head back into work within hours of getting discharged from the hospital. I understand that people have very strong opinions about this but accosting a pregnant stranger in an attempt to start a fight over your beliefs is not okay. So stop it.
|“LIVE YOUR LIFE ACCORDING TO MY BELIEFS, PREGNANT STRANGER!”|
3. Are you going to have an epidural?
This is another question that is inevitably a catalyst for a debate about medicated vs. unmedicated births. If I want to use enough drugs to knock out Keith Richards, I think that’s my choice. If I want to explore alternate pain management methods like hypnobirthing oraccupressure, that is also my choice. But either way, I don’t see how it’s any of your business, stranger at the grocery store.
|“Paper or plastic? Also, epidurals are for weak women brainwashed by the greedy healthcare industry.”|
4. Have you thought about if you’ll have an episiotomy or not?
Please don’t ask me about my hoo-ha. If you feel entitled to this information, maybe you’d also like to join me for my next pap smear?
5. You’re having a boy? Are you going to circumcise him?
To put it bluntly, my son’s penis is none of your business. Like the working mother debate and the medicated birth debate, this is a very divisive issue and people have very strong opinions about it. I’m all for a lively discussion but I have no interest in having it with someone I just met in line at the bank.
6. How soon do you think you’re going to get back to your pre-baby size?
No idea, asshole. I have a feeling my priorities are going to shift a little bit and I’ll be more concerned with not breaking the tiny human for whom I am now responsible than if I can fit into a size 2.
|My post-baby body expectations.|
7. Do you want to hear my terrifying and horrible birth story?
No, but I don’t want to be rude and come right out and say it. Pregnant women get freaked out enough at the thought of the birth process–hearing about how your birth was a cross between Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Exorcist isn’t going to help.
|“You would not BELIEVE who my OB was!”|
While we’re at it, can we just agree that strangers should stop touching pregnant women’s bellies?
I think the general rule should be that if you wouldn’t normally touch my stomach, don’t assume that you suddenly can now. If we just met and you don’t even know my name, you don’t need to be invading my personal space.
Edit: Apparently Pennsylvania just made touching a pregnant woman’s belly without permission illegal. I now want to move to Pennsylvania. Immediately.
With all this being said, I don’t want to be completely negative here, so here’s a list of 3 Things that are Definitely Okay to Ask a Pregnant Woman:
1. When are you due?
Just make sure you don’t follow up with a statement like, “You look like you’re about to pop!” Especially if she still has a few months to go.
2. Do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl?
Some women want to wait until the birth to be surprised but even so, this is generally safe territory.
3. Have you thought about a name yet?
This one is usually fine but can be tricky because some people get weirdly possessive and secretive over their favorite baby names for fear that someone will steal them.
Also, even if you think someone’s chosen baby name is stupid, keep your mouth shut. Laugh about it in the car on the way home if you want to but ultimately, it’s the parents’ choice what to name their kid. Even if you think it’s ridiculous, it’s not your baby.
When in doubt, tell the pregnant woman she looks beautiful.
No matter how confident in her body she feels, nearly all pregnant women will have a day where they feel like a whale and that they look like shit. It’s shallow, but hearing that you look nice when you’re pregnant can do a world of good to boost some self-conscious spirits.
|“None of my clothes fit anymore.”|
Written by Emily Regan–originally published at The Next Great American Writer