Ask A Woman: There’s a bun in the oven. Be nice to the baker.
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I’m baaaack. Did you miss me? For those of you worried that I’d come back as an obsessed new mother…you’re right. This first post is even about pregnancy. No need to panic, I’m not turning this space into a forum on parenthood, but as Dappered grows, so do its readers, and those of you who have been with us from the start are likely at an age when you or many of your friends are having children. Even if you never have kids, your path will cross with someone who does. And here, gleaned from my nine months of life-growing, is a list of do’s and don’t’s when talking to a pregnant woman.
Don’t touch the belly
You’ve heard this before, right? Other people’s bodies are off limits to your hands unless you have express permission. I personally never experienced unwanted touching on my tummy, but so many of my friends did that I’m including it. No touchy.
Don’t make comments about size
It seems obvious, right? And I bet you’re sitting there, staring at your computer screen, wondering, why does Beth include this one? Who would be dumb enough to make comments about size to a pregnant woman? Fellas, this happens. The words “Are you having twins” should never come out of your mouth. After someone tells you they are however many months, the words “Really? You look like you’re __ months” should never come out of your mouth. This goes for guessing more OR fewer months along. Even if you have good intentions, telling a woman she looks really small for being however many months pregnant may make her worry that her baby isn’t growing at an appropriate rate. Unless you say, “You look great,” a good rule of thumb is no comments about body size or shape.
Don’t bother her around her due date
I stopped checking email a week before my due date. I cringed when I got a text. I was so tired of people bugging me about whether or not the baby was here. Hand to God, my mail carrier, who would see me out walking my dogs, would pull up next to me every day during the last two weeks before my son was born and ask me why the baby hadn’t arrived yet. Because I’m holding him in, you ass. I have complete control over when he decides to leave my womb and I’ve decided I like carrying around an extra 25 pounds and not being able to sleep at night, so we’re going for a 50 week pregnancy. If you are an important person in her life, she will let you know when the baby has arrived. Give her some space.
Bad Barney. Very bad.
Don’t tell her birth horror stories
Most men don’t talk to their female friends about labor and delivery. But I’m including this one anyway in case you hear your wife, girlfriend, or female friend start telling a horror story about labor to a pregnant woman. “My friend broke her tailbone during labor because the baby was so big”; “I dry-heaved for two hours in between contractions”; “My sister passed out because the pain was so bad.” Why, why, why would you share this information? If you have something actually helpful to say, like, “We took a self-hypnosis class and my wife found it helped during labor to cope with the pain,” then by all means, pass it on. Labor is a varied experience for every woman, so you’re not helping her prepare by telling her the worst case scenario. You’re only serving to scare her.
Do ask her how she’s feeling
Pregnancy is hard for a lot of women. You have so little control over what your body is doing; you feel tired, nauseated, irritable, uncomfortable. It helped a little when people asked how I was feeling, because it felt like an acknowledgement that pregnancy is challenging. No need to dig for details, just check in and see how she’s doing.
Do ask her about things other than her pregnancy
Now that you’ve asked her about the obvious, turn the conversation to something other than her big old belly. How is work treating her? Does she watch Game of Thrones, and if so, how amazing was that finale? Does she have any travel plans this summer? Some women don’t mind talking all baby all the time, but others appreciate being seen aside from their pregnancies.
Good to be back, guys.
Got something brewing in your life? Send me an email–style, etiquette, relationships–I answer it all: firstname.lastname@example.org