The Top Seven Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

Pregnant Blog Post - Pregnant - Energy to Glow

Public Service Announcement

It seems that any remnant of tact, delicacy and good sense leaves people when they are faced with someone in the family way. Below are the top seven things not to say a pregnant woman. And yes, all of these things were said to me when I had a bun in the oven, or said to friends when they were expecting. Please treat the following as a light-hearted public service announcement, a helpful guide for the vast majority of the population (including myself) that is not currently pregnant. I have even given alternative conversation starters to help us all out.

 

  1. Are Your Sure / Really?

When on the receiving end of a pregnancy announcement, close your lips and keep your feet out of your mouth. Do not blurt out things like ‘But… how?’ ‘Who’s the father?’ ‘You are not having another one are you?’. Or my personal favourite: ‘You shouldn’t be having children at your age – you should have had them in your twenties’.

What to say instead – ‘Congratulations’ or ‘I am happy for you’. Followed by something dull but safe such as ‘When is the due date?’

 

  1. I Thought You Were Because…

Try to also refrain from saying that you already had your suspicions she was pregnant. Besides the fact that the pregnant woman usually likes to surprise friends with the happy news, any admission of guessing beforehand implies that her teetotalling behaviour was a dead giveaway since she was such a huge lush. Or, even worse, that she already looks bloated, tired or blotchy. A friend of mine said that when she made the announcement at work, a colleague said ‘Yes! I suspected it from the look of your boobs’.

What to say instead – see number 7 above. And please avoid discussing boobs. At least in the workplace.

 

  1. Have You Thought of Any Names?

I am as guilty as the next person of asking this question so I do understand that this seems like a gentle topic to discuss with an expecting parent. However, after being asked this a million times in nine months, what I wanted to reply was either ‘Oh my goodness, I had completely forgotten about the whole name thing.’ Or simply ‘Yes but I am not telling you’.

What to say instead – ‘You must have some favourite names picked out?’ or ‘Have you and your partner agreed on names?’. A subtle but gracious alternative.

 

  1. You Look Tired

Never, ever, ever tell a pregnant woman that she looks tired. There are no exceptions to this one. On top of working, home life and being a great friend, she is aiding in the construction of a tiny human, right down to his eyelashes. It is taxing.

What to say instead – anything, anything at all. Tell her she looks glowing. Pregnant woman love that. If you cannot manage it, engage in some light banter about the weather.

 

  1. Are You Sure There Are Not Two in There?

Now this question is just plain rude. The quick reply is ‘There is only one baby’. But when I was pregnant with baby number two I would have loved to respond with ‘I have had scans and tests and there is absolutely no indication of another baby, a second heartbeat or anything else, yet you have had a cursory glance at my belly and have decided that I must be big enough to be carrying multiple children inside of me. Thank you for insinuating that I look enormous’.

What to say instead – nothing.

 

  1. Have You Had Your Baby Yet?

This is without doubt, the worst question to ask an overdue pregnant woman. It makes expectant mamas feel like a baby-making machine that has been relegated down to one purpose – produce baby now. Talk about pressure! At 41 weeks, I was getting asked this so often, that I dreamt about replying with this: ‘Actually, yes, just like a cat, I had the baby in secret a couple of weeks ago and have not told anyone. Instead I have decided to play an elaborate hoax and am now carrying around a basketball under my top’.

What to say instead – simply ask her how she is. Ask her something that is not baby or pregnancy related. Better yet, visit her at home with frozen lasagna, tell her to put her feet up and offer to fold some washing.

 

  1. Hands Off!

This is not so much what not to say, but what not to do. The number one thing on this list of seven is do not touch a pregnant woman’s bump, especially without asking. I know, you are drawn to the round belly; it has an irresistible aura that compels you to give it a gentle rub. But hands off – and ask first.

This applies in particular if you are a male co-worker of the pregnant woman. And you barely know her as you work in another department. And she has only just announced her pregnancy. And there is no visible bump. Yes, this did happen to a friend of mine. Awwwwkward.

What to say instead – ‘Please can I touch your bump?’ (It is OK if the answer is ‘No’).

 

No Thanks Necessary

My public service announcement is now over. You may go about your day. If I have missed any other top things not to say to a pregnant woman, please reply in the comments below.

Pregnant Blog Post - Pregnant - No Baby Yet

Peppa Pig – Addiction, Alliteration and World Domination

Peppa Pig Blog Post - Peppa Image

Guilty Admission

If you had mentioned Peppa Pig to me three years ago, I wouldn’t know what you were talking about. But now, this British children’s cartoon series, with its five-minute episodes centred on the eponymous four-year-old talking pig, Peppa, are a dominant presence in our home. These days, I cannot imagine daily life without Peppa Pig on TV.

What is even more disturbing is that a few months back I found myself lost – for hours and hours – in an Internet search about it.

I had a sudden realisation after watching the ‘Funfair’ episode for perhaps the fifth time, that all the animal kids had alliterative names – Candy Cat, Suzie Sheep, Zoe Zebra, Rebecca Rabbit. All except for Peppa’s little brother, George. It made no sense to me.

I delved into the recesses of the Internet and found a world of parenting forums where similarly sad and slightly desperate parents had posted this and many other questions about Peppa Pig. I did feel at least vindicated that I wasn’t the only person out there using up quality time in her day hunting for answers about something so pointless and exasperating. But in the midst of it I started to think – why do we all care so much?

 

Fall Down Laughing

I mean, when I first started watching Peppa Pig with my toddler, I could not for the life of me see what the big deal was. In each episode, Peppa does an activity or goes somewhere with her family or friends – say to the public swimming pool or for a picnic – and then at the end of the episode all the characters fall down laughing.

That is it.

There is barely an attempt at any sort of narrative arc, and the animation is not sophisticated and everyone is a little bit mean about Daddy Pig.

 

World Domination

Yet last year, the company behind Peppa Pig reported annual sales of $1 billion – cue lots of “bringing home the bacon” headlines. Most of the revenue comes from merchandise – an estimated 12,000 products have been given the Peppa Pig treatment. She is everywhere – on lunchboxes, toys, games, and even my one-year-old daughter’s second hand stockings.

The TV show has been going for over ten years but as the episodes are only five minutes long, there is less than 20 hours of TV responsible for this global success. It is screened in over 180 countries and if you visit the UK you can now take the family to Peppa Pig World – its very own theme park. Projected earnings are set to double to $2 billion in a few years and more theme parks are planned.

Although it has been described, fairly indelicately, as ‘toddler crack’, it is not our children who are the frenzied consumers of anything Peppa. It is not our children having heated debates on parenting forums. It is not our children building theme parks. Peppa Pig has taken over the world. Why?

Apologies if the talk about wads of cash, rampant consumerism and addictive drugs seem abhorrent, but I feel like this is worth digging into.

 

Success Theories

Firstly, there is the emotion hypothesis: you either love or hate Peppa Pig. You can even dislike it and come to love it, as I have. Or you can like some of the episodes but get annoyed at how mean they all are to Daddy Pig. Or think that Peppa is mostly a delight but sometimes quite naughty. But the point is, no one says ‘Oh, Peppa Pig – I can take it or leave it’. Anything that invokes a strong emotion is bound to stay in your mind when out shopping.

Secondly – the mystery theory. Peppa Pig brings up more questions than answers. Not only is George not called Peter or Paul, but there are many other unanswered questions. Like why are all the parents called Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig, even by their bosses? When the show is about talking animals, why is there a doctor and a vet? And what the heck is that Mr. Potato thing? If you start down the questioning line, you will fall in a well that you will never clamber out of – right down to why is George voiced by TWO actors when all he says is ‘dinosaur’? All these unresolved questions stay in our consciousness and are still around when our child’s birthday is coming up. Add this to 12,000 products and you have a success equation that adds up big time. A little bit of mystery goes a long way.

Next is the simplicity proposal – maybe the extremely short episodes, uncomplicated story and basic sketches are not negatives at all, but instead what makes Peppa Pig so addictive. In a world where I never feel like I finish anything, watching an entire five-minute episode of Peppa Pig is something of an achievement.

Or maybe, just maybe, it is so successful because it is so joyful. As it is from the perspective of a four-year-old, it projects a kind of youthful joy that invokes a comforting nostalgia. Who doesn’t remember how much fun it was to jump in muddy puddles? It is mildly humorous in a very British way. I dare anyone not to smile in the ‘Hide and Seek’ episode when George is found in Daddy Pig’s newspaper.

 

Alliteration and Addiction

I never did find a satisfying answer to the alliterative names conundrum. In fact to make matters worse I found out about one other character with a non-alliterative name – Joey the baby Kangaroo – which makes the anomaly even more infuriating.

But occasionally, Peppa Pig does come through with an episode that alleviates some curiosity. It was a good day when I stumbled across the episode where Miss Rabbit gets awarded for all her hard work with a medal from the Queen. I had been wondering for ages how Miss Rabbit can do so many jobs. That wasn’t exactly answered, but at least it was acknowledged.

Whatever the reason for its worldwide success, there is no denying Peppa Pig is not just ‘toddler crack’. There is a worrying addictive element for us grown ups as well. I know this because our daily bite of Peppa Pig has been replaced with Emma (five minutes of the female Wiggle). And although Emma’s smile lights up our TV screen, I am having Peppa Pig withdrawals.

When an object you desire is no longer around, you tend to obsess about it even more. Maybe write an entire blog post about it. Mmmm, perhaps I need to get out bit more.

Peppa Pig Blog Post - Peppa Family Image

Everything We Do Is Wrong

Everything We Do Is Wrong Blog Post W Sitting Picture

W-Sitting

My four year old, Dylan, was quietly playing with some toys on the floor and I relished a few peaceful moments before the baby was due to wake… until I realised from what I was reading on my phone that Dylan was sitting wrong. Yes – you read it correctly. Sitting wrong.

Courtesy of my social media feed I had fallen into an alarming article and discovered that you can actually SIT WRONG. So my four year old is safe, happy and quiet, but now I feel like I have to interrupt him to coach him to sit correctly.

Dylan was sitting with his bottom between his legs with his knees and feet on the floor with the feet pointing outward – what I have learnt now is called ‘W-Sitting’. Apparently ‘W-Sitting’ impacts on development of the pelvis or knee joints or whether my child will become president of the world or something. So now I need to WORRY about it.

 

Right to Wrong

Not only are there are things I discover out of the blue that are wrong, but even things I think are right are can be considered wrong.

I happily washed my baby’s hair most nights…until I read that it is not good to do it every night and I should restrict it to once a week at the most. Their tiny scalps are very sensitive and too much chemicals and rubbing can damage them or something like that. Gah.

I still do make the bed every morning but now I know that millions of tiny dust mites are thriving in the dark recesses of my tidily made bed and are feeding off my dead skin cells and sweat and potentially contributing to asthma and allergy problems. Although I have discovered in the past few months that an unmade bed exposes the mites to light and will help to kill them, I still cannot leave the covers down each day. I have instead learnt to feel bad about making the bed each day – something I used to feel good about.

I even discovered watching a TED talk that using a car seat for my little one could make little difference in the event of a serious accident. So something that I think I am doing completely right – and still believe is mandatory at all times – can still be considered ‘wrong’ by someone somewhere.

 

Wrong to Right

To counter all this, I have discovered a few things that I used to feel bad about can be considered acceptable. For example, I read that crying is can be considered to be good for babies as it helps their lungs develop. I am of course not advocating leaving your baby to cry for hours, but if you are in the middle of some ablutions and cannot attend to your darling for a few minutes, now you can think – ‘At least his lungs are forming better’. Good for you.

And I found out from my dental hygienist that it is perfectly okay for my baby or toddler to chew on their toothbrush and not look like they are in any way making a sophisticated attempt to brush their teeth. Apparently chewing on their toothbrush massages the teeth and gums plus it gets the child used to the feel of the toothbrush and into the habit of brushing their teeth which is really the important focus at a very young age.

Pick Your Wrong

Of course, one way to fix this is to never read anything on parenting ever again. The information age obviously has a lot to answer for. But I like reading and will continue with it regardless. So what are the alternatives?

Maybe all we need to do is realise that, as parents, we will be told we are wrong no matter what we do. So we need to pick what we care about and what we don’t. Pick your wrong. I for one will put up my hand to admit that I have never, ever flossed my kids’ teeth. After all, if we did everything we were supposed to do as a parent we would never leave the house.

Also know that if we worry about this stuff all we are doing is stressing ourselves out which is not good for anyone concerned. We feel guilty which is the most useless of all emotions. Guilty for what – caring too much?

 

The Flip Side

If we are getting down to this type of trivial stuff, these minutiae of parenting, then we really must be doing all the important stuff RIGHT. Let us not worry about W-sitting, making beds or chewing on toothbrushes.

Our kids have food in their tummies, a roof over their heads and they know they are loved – unheard of luxuries for far too many children in the world.

You read this stuff because you want to parent in the best way possible. You feel bad sometimes because you care. And you constantly want to do right because you love your child so much it is ridiculous.

And all that love and kindness simply cannot be wrong.

 

References

W-Sitting – http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/6827294/If-you-see-your-child-sitting-like-this-this-is-why-you-should-stop-them.html

 

Washing baby hair – http://www.motherforlife.com/baby/0-12-months/baby-care/bath/7836-should-our-kids-take-a-bath-every-day.thtml

 

Making bed – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/make-your-bed-dust-mites_us_5601809ce4b08820d91a3e8f

 

Car seats – https://www.ted.com/talks/steven_levitt_on_child_carseats?language=en

 

Crying – http://www.thehealthsite.com/pregnancy/5-reasons-why-crying-is-actually-good-for-your-baby-d114/

 

Child teeth – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/dentalhealth/Pages/Careofkidsteeth.aspx

Everything We Do Is Wrong - Dylan in Bath Photo

 

The Baby Mysteries

 

The Baby Mysteries Blog Post - Eloise Jan16

Wonderfully Horrible

Our baby daughter, Eloise, turns one on Sunday. The past year has been tiring, wacky, joyous, boring, momentous, difficult and amazing. Being mama to Eloise has been horribly wonderful and wonderfully horrible. Because babies are easy… except when they are not.

This inherent contrariness makes parenting a baby so fantastic and so awful at the same time. This clash makes them seem loveable even when they do something disgusting. This innate conflict is why we find everything stupendously hard the first time round and then try for a second baby a short time later. Babies are a paradox.

 

Baby Mysteries

For instance, a newborn is tiny but she takes up so much space in your life. I mean, how much washing is there? It just never ends. And how much stuff do you take with you just to get out the door?

It is also so strange how unfamiliar a newborn is, but how you cannot remember what your world was like before she arrived. She is exactly how you pictured her, even though you didn’t actually have an image in your head.

These baby mysteries extend further – where does all the time go? How come time seems to have gone so fast even though some days were so looooooonnnng, they seemed to last forever. Being awake at 2am does give that impression.

And when she sleeps badly overnight, how come she does not sleep well during the day too? Surely she would want to nap more? Oh, and the most perplexing thing of all when it comes to sleep – how is an inadvertent two minute car nap the same as a two hour sleep in her actual cot?

How on earth are the car keys or TV remote control so much more desirable than an actual baby toy? How does she discern the difference at such a young age?

Babies are soft yet so strong, cry one minute and laugh the next, and do the most enormous bowel movements yet smell divine. It’s all so baffling.

 

Revoltingly Cute

No matter what babies do, it seems super cute. If older children or adults did these things you would probably find it quite rude or revolting. Eloise has taken to pointing to other people’s food to try and solicit a bite. This is met with people kindly offering a morsel to her. They simply can’t resist. If she starts a game of ‘raspberry’ – putting her tongue between her lips and blowing to make a sound – then not only does she spray everyone within a three feet radius, but they all want to join in. And don’t get me started on bodily functions. I would challenge anyone not to smile when they hear any baby pass gas.

Babies are also super cute with things that are deemed easy. How incredible is it to see a baby in a peaceful slumber? Bonus points if she is in a front pack at a busy park or market.

And if none of that seems cute enough for you, then get your baby to wear adult size clothing like hats, shoes or sunglasses. There is something so innately confusing about large clothes on a tiny baby. It seems right and wrong at the same time.

 

Fun Theory

What is the root cause of this paradox? Why are babies wonderfully horrible and revoltingly cute? I have a fun theory that is likely to be wildly off the mark, but here goes…

Maybe it is because babies are better than us adults but we don’t want to acknowledge it. After all, we take care of them. We are the parents. But babies effortlessly do all the things that we are told makes life special and worthwhile. Things like smiling, being present and having courage come naturally to babies, but are sometimes hard for us.

The other day there was a little spider crawling across the floor near Eloise. It brought home all the things that Eloise is better at than me, including:

  • Marveling at nature and being curious
  • Being in the present moment
  • Being fearless (trying to pick up the spider)
  • Using both hands (to pick it up)
  • Trying new things (she also tried to eat the spider)
  • A single minded focus (nothing was distracting her from getting that spider)

 

A Ton of Smiles

The number one thing that Eloise does better than me – in fact, better than anyone I know – is spreading joy. Did you know that babies smile or laugh around 300 times per day, and I am sure Eloise keeps this average high. She smiles at strangers in the supermarket, shows delight at the slightest interaction and makes others laugh with her charm. She shows off her great big toothy grin freely, unreservedly and without any expectation. What happens, of course, is she elicits an absolute ton of smiles back.

Happy 1st Birthday Eloise. I hope you keep the best of your baby traits as you grow, particularly your cheerful nature. My wish is that you are always the recipient of a ton of smiles.

The Baby Mysteries Blog Post - Party Table First Birthday