By Beth Wilson
Who knows what it is about a pregnancy that seems to give some people license to be as inconsiderate and impolite as they want. But strangers, and even well meaning acquaintances, will probe and touch upon areas that should be off-limits to anyone.
Columnist Peggy Post, great granddaughter-in-law of Emily Post, has encountered and resolved many of these social blunders. Your Baby Today asked Post, who's working on a parenting book (an addition to her stock of general, business, entertaining, and wedding etiquette books) and is a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping and Parents magazines, for points of protocol regarding expecting mothers and those around her.
A crowded bus or train
"For sitting strangers, it is thoughtful, though not mandatory, to offer and give a pregnant woman your seat," says Post. For pregnant women, if no one offers, simply ask someone if he or she would mind giving up a seat.
To ask or not to ask
"Don't be too nosy," Post advises, who recommends onlookers avoid asking moms-to-be questions about the baby's gender and conception. "It's really important not to get too personal. Take the lead from the expectant mother." In other words, discuss the topics she addresses. If in doubt, don't ask. And questions like, "Is it a planned pregnancy?" and "When are you due?" should never be uttered because you never know if a woman is truly pregnant or, perhaps, has already delivered her baby.
To touch or not to touch
For expecting mothers, field rude questions or the hands-on approach with patience and humor. Post suggests saying "The sleeping baby doesn't want to be touched," "I've been poked or prodded enough," or "I don't like my stomach touched, I'm sure you understand." Be considerate: Don't touch a pregnant woman's stomach or other body parts unless given permission.
For friends and co-workers, treat it like a death. Don't disregard it, offer advice, or say something as insensitive as, "I'm sure you'll have another." Instead, simply say: "I'm thinking of you. I'm sorry to hear about your loss."