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How to Piss Off a Pregnant Person

by Claire Litton Cohn Apr 14, 2014
Touch our bellies without asking.

Whether you’re a friend or (god forbid) a total stranger, please don’t assume our tummies are fair game. We don’t want to be rubbed, massaged, stroked, or informed that because we’re carrying low it’s going to be a boy, any more than a non-pregnant person would want to be touched without any warning, either.

It’s polite to ask, even if you know someone well. Some pregnant people can’t stand being touched by ANYTHING (even their clothes), so making a grab for the protruding belly just demonstrates you don’t value their autonomy as a person.

Ask how many months we are.

This is understandable, and it’s not really going to piss most of us off, but it’s mildly irritating because there are a lot of changes that happen in development, and a month is a REALLY long time. For some reason, people also aren’t impressed by your pregnancy at all until you’re at least six months, so asking how many months along someone is and then raising a bored eyebrow when they say three and a half means you’re discounting that the fetus has fingers, toes, and a heartbeat!

We’re growing the damn thing as fast as we can! Go with what the medical profession does and ask us how many weeks. We get asked that by the doctor so often, we’ll probably automatically tell you the date of our last period, too.

Remark on how much weight we’ve gained.

This is a pretty good guideline for everyone, actually: Just don’t comment on someone’s size. Don’t say they’ve lost weight; don’t say they’ve gained it. Just don’t. Given the fat-shaming endemic in doctor’s offices, chances are we’ve spent our entire pregnancy thus far being weighed and lectured about our food choices. The last thing we need is anyone else jumping on the bandwagon.

Expect us to act exactly the same as before we got pregnant.

The amount of energy and abilities of every pregnant person completely varies — not just from person to person, but from pregnancy to pregnancy…and week to week. The first trimester is notoriously exhausting: I slept for 11 hours a night and could barely climb up the stairs to my apartment without getting winded. Considering I’m used to huge amounts of exercise, this was really weird for me, and I felt pretty sad about not being able to stay awake past 9pm or go out and do things without collapsing face-first into my food.

Tell us we can’t have that glass of wine (or cup of coffee).

You hear horror stories of people taking a glass of celebratory champagne right out of a pregnant person’s hand, or in one awful instance, a barista looking straight past a woman to her husband after she ordered a coffee and asking, “Are you sure you should let her have that?” You heard it here, folks: There’s not a lot of evidence against coffee during pregnancy, and most of what there is is circumstantial. (There’s a link between less nausea in the first trimester and higher risk of miscarriage, and people who are nauseated drink less coffee; therefore people who drink more coffee are also probably less nauseated and more likely to miscarry.)

Ditto drinking. A lot of the studies on alcohol during pregnancy show there’s little to no risk (and some reward) to having a glass of wine a day during your pregnancy, which is quite different than slamming back a row of tequila shots. Please don’t assume you have any idea what’s best for someone else’s body.

Treat us like a vessel for the baby instead of a human person.

I read a memoir awhile ago wherein a woman said she’d read a book during her pregnancy that sternly demanded that every time she ate a meal while pregnant she ask herself, “Is this the best bite I can give my baby?” A human body is more than just a host for a parasitic fetus, and we have opinions, thoughts, feelings, and needs.

We have a lot more going on in our lives than just having a baby, although it’s pretty interesting, exciting, and weird. Try asking us how our day was instead of slapping a French fry out of our hand and saying babies shouldn’t have trans fats. Maybe they shouldn’t, but that’s what I’m in the mood for right now, okay?

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