Until getting pregnant, I would have told you that women in general are much friendlier and more socially polite than men in the workplace. This is something I used to appreciate. No, I didn’t do an official study on this; it’s just something I’ve noticed. Women, in general, tend to pay more attention to the details, ask polite questions, and be complimentary. Men, in the work place environment, can be all business. After being pregnant, I’ve come to appreciate this all-business attitude.
If you’re a career woman who’s pregnant, I’d like to take this opportunity to charge with you something: educating women on how to talk to women who are pregnant. Is this necessary? Absolutely. Let me tell you all about it.
I’m thirty-five weeks pregnant. Technically, there are five more weeks until I’m due. I cannot bump into anyone (pun intended) without them commenting on the size of my belly. Do men make these comments? No. (As my husband says, men only look at pregnant women to figure out if they’d be hot if they weren’t pregnant. Ha.) Women, on the other hand, make the most outrageous comments. Smart, intelligent, polite businesswomen can say the meanest and stupidest things. Such as, “Wow, you’re huge.” Last time I checked, telling someone they were “huge” was a “huge” no-no.
As an educator by trade, it’s my goal in these last few weeks of pregnancy to teach females how to interact with a woman and her protruding belly. They are the same courtesies we should extend to everyone. I encourage you to help teach younger women; older woman may need a brush up on what’s kosher these days:
1. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
2. Under no circumstances should you say to a pregnant woman that she is “big,” “huge,” or heaven forbid “enormous.” If it’s meant to be complimentary, make sure it’s a compliment. If you wouldn’t say it to someone who wasn’t pregnant, most likely, it’s not appropriate.
3. Never ever ask a woman if she’s pregnant if she hasn’t told you directly or someone close to you. There’s not a place on the planet you could go far enough where a woman who’s is not pregnant will forgive or forget you. It’ll make her stare in the mirror for hours and possibly starve in the future to avoid comments about her not-so-pregnant belly.
4. If a woman is nearing childbearing age or has been married for a while but still doesn’t have kids—don’t ask when she’s planning on starting a family. If she hasn’t told you yet, it’s none of your business and is completely unprofessional not to mention uncool.
5. Don’t ask a woman if she’s excited to go on maternity leave and enjoy some vacation. Bearing a child is not classified as vacation because the hospital doesn’t serve drinks with umbrellas and changing diapers in not a great sightseeing experience. It’s insulting to the woman who is giving birth to assume that being away from work will be a walk in the park. Women who are out on maternity leave feel guilty enough for missing work without these added comments.
6. Never ask a woman if she’s having twins. It’s just plain mean.
7. When at work, birthing stories are off limits. Some personal stories shared among co-workers are fine, but keep the gory details out of the work scene. If you must hear women’s stories of giving birth, do it over happy hour or not at all. I mean, do you really want to sit next to someone in the office when you’ve heard how their labor went?!
8. Don’t ask if you can touch a pregnant belly. By doing so, you’ve put the woman in a position that if she doesn’t say yes, you think she’s being rude. But really, would you go around the office feeling your coworkers’ bellies? No. If she’s open to it, she’ll let you know.
Having children is an experience that millions of women in the world have in common. At first, it was cool for people to know I was pregnant, and comment on it, and be inquisitive. You’d think that women who have gone through the process themselves would remember what it felt like to be stared at and spoken to like a science project. Unfortunately, now that I’m bigger, the fun going in public being pregnant is gone. This makes me sad since I’m having a great pregnancy.
So you women out there, if you see me coming, you better say something nice or keep your mouth shut. Those of you that aren’t pregnant, you’ll appreciate the lesson some day.
By Jill Hare, Editor of TheApple.com
This article is reprinted from WomenCo.