Congratulations Catherine Middleton on your pregnancy, that's wonderful news!
You have to feel for Catherine Middleton suffering from extreme sickness, and all the unpleasant comments about her slacking off work. That is so wrong, and terribly rude. With news of her pregnancy, you are more conscious of how pregnant ladies are treated. I always want to treat pregnant ladies with the uttermost respect, but what exactly is good etiquette?
I have a nine month old son and I experienced some rude behaviour before he was born, although nothing like Catherine Middleton is experiencing. I would like to outline what I consider to be good etiquette when communicating with mums-to-be.
1. Never ever ever ask someone if they are pregnant, wait for them to say in their own time
This is a question you should never ask. There is a risk the lady isn't pregnant at all and you offend, or if she is pregnant, it will make her feel very self-conscious about her changing body shape. If she is pregnant, let her tell you when she feels comfortable. Most couples don't share their good news until they have their first scan around week twelve.
2. Avoid tainting the moment with your own experiences.
When you find out that someone is pregnant, the best reaction is a very positive congratulations. It is a very special time for any lady so try and match their level of excitement. Avoid tainting the moment with your own experiences of trying for a baby, infertility, or birth story. It just fosters a socially awkward moment.
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3. Always give up your seat for a pregnant lady
Always give up your seat for a pregnant lady, even if she doesn't ask; it can be intimidating to ask a stranger to give up their seat. Some pregnant ladies wear the 'baby on board' badge, and some don't. Even if she doesn't wear the badge, still give up your seat. And, it doesn't matter how pregnant the lady looks. In the first few weeks before you look pregnant, you can need a seat due to extreme fatigue, or feeling faint, squeamish or dizzy.
4. Avoid giving unsolicited advice
It is good etiquette to avoid giving unsolicited advice on pregnancy, childbirth, and babies. For example, it is insensitive to give your opinions on breastfeeding, ante-natal care, keeping fit, vaccinations, or what foods to eat.
5. Avoid asking highly personal questions
Never ever ever ask highly personal questions to a pregnant woman unless you are their very best friend. For example, it is downright rude to ask whether the baby was planned, how your partner reacted when you told them, or when you plan to go back to work. It is, quite frankly, none of your business.
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6. Never discuss weight gain
It is deeply offensive to discuss weight gain with a pregnant lady, even if you are discussing how little weight she has gained. If you say she hasn't gained much it can suggest that the baby isn't healthy or big enough. And discussing a large weight gain can be deeply upsetting when she is coming to terms with her changing shape. This is definitely a subject to completely avoid.
7. Don't touch her bump
I am sure you have no bad intention when you touch a pregnant lady's bump, however, this is very intimidating. Touching other people's bodies is completely off-limits.
8. Make allowances
Pregnancy brings all sorts of weird and wonderful symptoms which are difficult to fully comprehend, unless you have been pregnant yourself. Make allowances for colleagues or friends who are struggling to get everything done to their normal high standards. It is good etiquette to show understanding and offer help.
9. Don't text as the due date approaches
As the due date draws closer, most pregnant women feel a degree of anxiety about the birth. The very last thing she needs to receive is daily texts to find out if the little one has arrived. This is bound to add extra stress, especially if baby is 'late'. Lay off the daily texts and wait for the good news to come from mum.
How did people treat you as a mum-to-be? What would you have liked to be different? Or, how do you treat pregnant women? Please feel free to share your experiences.
Lorna Balfour is a new mum, fitness trainer, and lifestyle coach.Suggest a correction