Let's all resolve to stop saying these things to pregnant women and new moms

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Let's all resolve to stop saying these things to pregnant women and new moms

Sure, you could resolve to lose extra weight or budget. But how about something simple? Like resolving to stop saying this to expectant and new moms?

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  • Parenting
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Jennifer McClellan, USA TODAY Published 6:00 a.m. ET Dec. 31, 2018 | Updated 7:40 a.m. ET Dec. 31, 2018
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Think a friend might be pregnant? You will want to consider these things before asking her if she's expecting. USA TODAY

We’re on the verge of a new year, which means many of us are making resolutions.

Sure, you could go with the tried-and-true self-promises. You know: Lose the extra weight, stick to a budget and rid yourself of some particular vice.

Trust your mommy gut. No one knows your child better than you. Follow your instincts when it comes to his health and well-being. If you think something's wrong, chances are you're right.

May we make suggest an addition to those resolutions?

How about a little self-censorship when interacting with pregnant women and new moms?

For example, can we all resolve to stop touching pregnant bellies and new babies without permission? It’s going to be 2019. It’s time to recognize that just because baby bumps are cute and baby dimples are even cuter, it doesn’t give you the right to touch them (We know the people who do this are well-meaning but, please, just ask first.)

We promise, all of these suggested resolutions are much easier than committing to a year at the gym.

Don't say or do this to pregnant women:

Should you be eating that?

Sorry, did I wander into a doctor’s office? Because she already told me my diet do’s and don’ts. She’s OK with me eating a tempura shrimp roll at a sushi restaurant and having a cup of coffee.

Pregnancy is so weird.

Agreed. There’s literally a human growing inside my body. But I’d rather you say it’s magical or miraculous, so I feel powerful instead of like a sideshow attraction.

You can't do (insert myriad things here) because you're pregnant.

Unless you’re a doctor telling me to avoid something for the health of my baby, don’t assume I don’t want to – or can’t – do something because I’m pregnant. I can exercise. I can take the lead on work projects. I can go out with friends.

Isn't being pregnant wonderful?

Sure, in theory. But the reality is that many women have rough pregnancies. There’s nausea, pain, sore muscles, swollen body parts so much more. Plus, we can’t have most of the stuff that makes us feel better like soft cheese, wine and sushi. A better question is, “How are you feeling?”

You look like you're about to pop.

Thanks, I was worried no one would notice I’ve turned into a blimp. Another variation of this is asking, “Are you having twins?” In general, just say, “You look great” and stop there.

Let me tell you about this horrible birth story.

Many expectant moms are riddled with anxiety about giving birth. We’re aware of risks and have heard horror stories from friends or on the news about things gone wrong. So do us a favor, keep your awful story to yourself and spare us the extra nightmare.

MORE: Hospitals know how to protect mothers. They just aren’t doing it.

Get kids moving. The latest research shows that brain development in young children may be linked to their activity level. Place your baby on her tummy several times during the day, let your toddler walk instead of ride in her stroller, and create opportunities for your older child to get plenty of exercise.

Did you plan to get pregnant?

This question goes from zero to awkward in a flash. Does it matter if a pregnancy was planned if a woman has decided to carry it?

“You’re not going to get an epidural, right?”

Praise and admiration to the women who have drug-free births. That doesn’t mean I want to be one of them. That’s a personal choice and we should be supportive of moms bringing babies into the world however works best for them.

Touch my belly without asking.

This is worth repeating: Please don’t touch me without asking first.

Don't say or do this to new moms:

You look tired.

That’s because I haven’t slept longer than a few hours in over a month. It’s also the reason I can’t be held responsible for the snarky reply I’m about to sling your way.

Sleep when the baby sleeps.

My baby doesn't sleep, he takes 40-minute power naps. So that's not happening. Plus, if I didn't take those little breaks to shower or eat, I'd be even more of a stinky, hangry mess.

Enjoy this newborn phase because it only gets harder.

That may be, but they’ll also be old enough to tell me why they’ve been crying for 30 minutes. They’ll sleep longer, be vaccinated against life-threatening diseases and be able to tell me they love me. How about we recognize that every age comes with its own set of good and bad?

When are you due?

Two months ago.


When are you going back to work?

Way too soon, and thanks for asking so I can pop out of this perfect happy-baby bubble I was floating around in. Asking the opposite, “You're going to stay home now, right?” triggers the same judgement and guilt.

How's the breastfeeding going?

Who said I was breastfeeding? Maybe I tried, and it didn’t work. In that case, thanks for making me feel like a failed mother. Or, maybe I chose not to for personal reasons. In that case, thanks for making me feel like I have to justify the way I care for my family.

Do you want another kid?

Let me get out my crystal ball and see how I’ll feel in the future before I answer that.

Are you the nanny?

Are you asking because my skin is a different color than my child’s? Or are you saying I look too old to be a new mom? Either way, it’s better not to ask.

Touch my baby without asking

This is worth repeating: Please don’t touch my baby without asking first. Not only is it rude, it could be a major health hazard. Kissing a baby without asking is an even bigger error. Please be considerate and get permission first.

Put your baby to bed drowsy but still awake. This helps your child learn to soothe himself to sleep and prevents bedtime problems down the line.

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