Tempted to give unsolicited suggestions and advice to a pregnant woman? Think nothing of patting the belly of a pregnant woman or commenting on her weight? Writer and Mumbai Mom founder-editor, Nidhi D. Bruce, presents a tirade against the growing insensitivity, both online and offline.
When is it okay to comment on a pregnant woman? The answer is: Never!
Pregnancy is not a disease. But it certainly is a very challenging, interesting and special time in any person’s life. With all due respect to people who just ‘want to help’ it is not really required to make comments and give unsolicited suggestions to any pregnant person that they come across.
Some of the most common things a pregnant woman is likely to hear are:
- Oh! You are already ‘X’ months pregnant? You don’t look it! (This is made to sound like a compliment – trust me it is not!)
- You look really dark you must be having a Girl. (Errr– so scientific!)
- Are you sure you can eat that? (Do you have a degree in nutrition?)
- Such a cute bump (while gently massaging the tummy) – Arrrrrgh!!!!
Even though you think, that you are just making a simple statement, or making conversation with a friend, what you’re really doing is passing judgement. Unfortunately, most of us are so used to making comments on people’s appearances that we have forgotten that there are certain boundaries that one must respect. Some of the easiest things that we comment on a regular basis are: skin colour, dress sense, overall appearance, hygiene and even health.
Are we losing the ability to empathise and sympathise?
Isn’t it amazing then that when we go out and encounter people similarly vociferous with their opinion we feel vulnerable ourselves? It has unfortunately become our culture to comment and accept comments wherever it is made. In the name of being more open and more communicative, what is happening is that we are losing the ability to empathise and sympathise. As Mumbai Mom has observed multiple times, the Internet generation is actually becoming one where the ease of commenting has made us more and more insensitive.
Coming back specifically to comments made on pregnant women. The upswing of the tabloid culture has ensured that every celebrity who happens to get pregnant gets her entire pregnancy chronicled by photographers. Like it or not, these people are followed from grocery store runs to doctors visits to red carpet appearances. What happens, therefore, is that a lot of normal pregnant women end up seeing these pictures and judging themselves against these celeb ideals.
How much damage can comments wreak?
If this was not enough damage, online comment boxes allow random people to make remarks about these pregnant women.
If you just happen to look at the pages of Daily Mail UK, you will see at least 4 to 5 different pregnant celebrities being featured on the pages. And more often than not, the dozens of pictures of the celebrity from different angles are followed by dozens of comments that are either extremely positive or extremely negative.
People comment on everything from the size of the bump, the weight that the person has gained/not gained, water retention, dress sense and even the abilities of the future parent! In five minutes of typing of two lines, people are able to make far-reaching comments on an entire person’s life. Where does that leave normal pregnant people?
So, have a heart the next time you meet a pregnant woman – ask no more than if she is doing well, and offer to help if she needs anything. That should suffice!