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Pregnancy - How To Handle Rude Strangers

Katlyn Joy |11, October 2010


Pregnancy - How To Handle Rude Strangers

It seems odd that being pregnant makes you a target for all kinds of rude questions, remarks and behaviors. After all, people do know pregnant women are already coping with crazy hormones, right? For some reason a protruding baby belly seems to be an invitation for typically normal people to be unbelievably rude.

The belly-rubber.

When else in your life can a complete stranger feel entitled to come up and just touch your stomach? While some people just get weirdly excited about a stranger's growing baby, it still doesn't explain their impulsive touching. The best way to handle it? Quickly, quietly and firmly. "Please don't touch my stomach. It makes me uncomfortable."

The weight police.

You know them by such comments as, "Whoa! You having a litter, or what?" or "I thought you are only five months along. You look ready to pop now?" or the helpful advice when you are eating like, "Should you really be eating that? You seem to be putting on a lot of weight!" Deflect with a smile, forced if you must. Say something like, "My doctor says we're doing just great. So don't worry!"

The private investigator.

They have some boundary issues and will ask such unbelievably rude things such as "Did you plan this baby or is it an accident?" Sometimes a simple question in reply will put such a sleuth in check. "Why do you ask?" is often effective. "We're very excited about the baby," works well, too.

The amateur midwife.

These people seem to want to know some very specific and private information, like "Are you going to have natural childbirth or an epidural?" or "Are you planning to breastfeed?" to "Have you dilated at all yet?" You can use the standard question deflection, "Why do you ask?" or you can feign ignorance and change the subject.

Gender census workers.

These folks love to count how many daughters or sons you have, then insist on asking if you're sad if you're not expecting a child who will even the count. Or if they spot you with two sons in tow, will ask, "Trying for a girl this time?" Just smile and say, "We'll be happy with our baby, whether it's a boy or girl."

The spy.

Maybe you've been trying to keep your pregnancy quiet for awhile, and someone wants to out you. They may notice your nausea, frequent bathroom trips or changing lifestyle or figure and they actually take the initiative to ask you outright if you are pregnant, perhaps in front of witnesses. If you don't want the pregnancy to be public yet, don't let anyone force the issue. Just say, "That's a really personal question. I'd rather not discuss that."

Weird sexual harassment.

It is an uncomfortable moment when soeone discusses how much your bust line has increased due to pregnancy. This can come from either men or women. Look appropriately shocked and offended and you probably won't have to comment further.

The Stephen Kings of childbirth.

They have a horror story to tell, whether it be about their huge varicose veins that never went away, the stretch marks that glow in the dark, the episiotomy that had its own zip code, the birth that lasted two weeks, or the baby with the beach ball head who was breech. These people take misery loving company to the next level. Do your best to interrupt and redirect if possible. If you are getting anxious, simply excuse yourself from the conversation. You don't have to listen, argue or explain. You don't owe the scary storyteller that.

The diarist.

These folks see you often, too often, and love to remark on how you've grown, the baby has or hasn't dropped, you are swelling too much, or they bet today's the day. Try your best to not listen or get worked up and redirect them if possible. Enlist a friend, relative or coworker to divert the person if it's a pattern that's driving you nuts.

The stand-up comedian

These people find pregnancy hilarious. They love to say things like "Looks like you're shoplifting a watermelon!" or "What are you, 10 months pregnant?" and such gems. Give a weak laugh, eye roll then walk away with more grace than they could ever hope to possess.

Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer, and just graduated with a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.

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Fab Jan 19, 2017 08:55:00 PM ET

Sometimes it is so hard. My mother is the worst, always giving her opinion about having kids and to stop having kids, To much sex etc. I actually hate telling her she's ,horrible makes me feel like i am 10 years old not 30.���

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Corine Oct 20, 2010 08:33:55 PM ET

Yeah, I don't understand some people. I had a co-worker today tell me that I'm getting "fuller in the face." And almost every day I have several co-workers comment on how "big" I'm gettnig. I know it's not meant to be malicious, but it starts to wear on me after awhile.

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