Avoid these five faux pas if you want to keep your pregnant friends, advises Rachel Pearce.
I’d just found out I was pregnant, and was so excited it was all I could do not to shout it from the rooftops. I decided not to tell the masses, but confided in my husband and a couple of others. “One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, so there’s no point telling anyone until 12 weeks,” said one friend. Not exactly the congratulations I’d been looking for.
This helpful advice-giving continued through the pregnancy. I was told not to lift heavy things or eat certain foods (perfectly fine), and even how to dress and when to give up work (definitely not OK). Then there were the questions about feeding. I knew that breast was best, but what if I couldn’t? Pressure, pressure, pressure! The second time round, a well-meaning family member continually nagged at me to rest, but I was working four days a week and had a toddler. This added guilt to the strain and fatigue I was already feeling.
If you have pregnant friends, here are five ways to avoid upsetting or ostracising them:
- Don’t touch the bump. I didn’t mind close friends touching my bump, especially when they asked first, but I drew the line at a stranger in Asda woman-handling me without so much as a hello. She was lucky I was pregnant and hadn’t just had an overly generous lunch that day! This is a worse offence than telling preggos they look huge or exhausted (also not ideal).
- Don’t dump unwanted baby stuff on them. This is particularly tricky for first-time mums, who have no idea what they’ll really need and often feel they can’t turn donations down. It is never helpful to be given toddler clothes, filthy bibs or manky teething spoons when you’re just about to have a baby!
- Name snobbery. Our first baby’s name was generally well received, but some Christians felt it wasn’t biblical enough, and one even refused to pronounce it correctly. “It sounds prettier this way, doesn’t it?” Sigh.Unless its Hitler or Jezebel, try to respond to your friend’s name ideas positively.
- Exclusion from fun events. People stopped inviting me to things as soon as I was in the family way. At least, I assume it was the pregnancy and not my bad breath. Granted, I wouldn’t have been much help with house moves, but everything else was fair game. And I could have done with a bit of normality in a world full of hormones and ever-swelling body parts.
- Horrific labour stories. Most women couldn’t help but tell me their labour horror stories, particularly as my due date approached. The last thing preggos want to hear is how your little darling practically split you in half as he came out, or how you were in labour for five days without any pain relief (because obviously, Christians should rely on prayer rather than medication). Keep it to yourself, friends!
If you really want to help, ask your pregnant friend how she’s doing. And listen. Offer to pray if she’s struggling, and discuss practical solutions. Take decaf tea, tasty biscuits, a good book and some bubble bath (baby gifts can wait). Offer to help decorate the nursery or do something helpful around the house - I found hoovering excruciating throughout both pregnancies.
Oh, and whatever you do, please, please don’t let your first question after the new baby arrives be: “So, d’you think you’ll have any more?”
Rachel Pearce is a lover of Jesus, babies and nonjudgemental friends.