Tread lightly when making comments to moms-to-be

We can cause anxiety, fear and worry with even well-intentioned interactions

Tread lightly when making comments to moms-to-be

Growing a child is one of the most remarkable joys one can experience; but nothing that amazing is ever easy.

While it’s human nature to be curious, and widely understood that the community wants to be the village — even before the baby arrives — what’s not always discussed is how much and what kind of attention an expecting parent wants and needs.

It’s usually during the last three months of a pregnancy that a developing baby’s weight begins to increase rapidly. Once that belly pops and people start to notice, the inevitable questions follow, starting with: “How many weeks/months along are you?”

It’s usually at that point that the inquiring minds become experts, following up with observations or judgments like “Oh wow, you’re really small.” Or for those showing more: “Are you sure it’s not twins?”

While some are proud of their growing body and want to share their experience, others may have insecurities and worries that are agitated and even provoked by unsolicited advice or questions. Someone suffering from morning sickness who “appears small,” may jump to some unpleasant conclusions, while another who “looks big” may worry about the baby’s head size and the impending labour.

Those who are pregnant can feel ashamed that they aren’t living up to societal expectations; these feelings even have the potential to spiral downward into postpartum depression (PPD), which can actually start during pregnancy and continue for approximately a year after childbirth.

Up to 10 percent of new parents living in cities in economically developed countries like Canada experience clinically significant PPD. The rate in the rural U.S. and in developing countries is two to three times higher, according to the Canadian Psychological Association.

With this in mind, it’s society’s responsibility to approach dialogue with care. The reality is that pregnancy, labour, and the joys of parenthood invite new experiences and a world of unknowns. The community needs to be mindful and consider a pregnant person’s vulnerability before broaching topics with insensitive language.

It’s time to replace phrases like “you’re huge,” “you’re tiny,” or “how many are in there?” with more supportive remarks, like “pregnancy suits you,” or simply, “congratulations!”

Yet the closer someone gets to giving birth, the more others seem to feel the need to pass on so-called sage advice that has the potential to be counterproductive if delivered the wrong way.

Rather than imparting advice like “enjoy your last sleep,”’ “your body will never be the same,” or “it’s the most painful experience you’ll ever go through,” try to resist the need to over-share or lecture. Don’t recount the trials and tribulations of your own experience in a way that borders on fear-mongering; instead, reflect on the gifts that pregnancy brings, offer suggestive care plans, or recommend experts in your community.

The journey is both short and long, social and individual. From the first sound of that tiny heartbeat, the strongest bond is formed. The body surrenders to the marvel of pregnancy and a parent learns to be more adaptive, patient, and caring. Through reflection one gains strength and understanding, and readies oneself for the challenge of labour and the intensity of caring for a newborn.

The lifetime of learning a parent signs up for can be met with some doubt and guilt even in the best of scenarios; that’s why it is so important to stay positive and lift one another up.

Having and raising a child is an opportunity to see what you’re made of; it requires reaching deep inside yourself — for strength you didn’t know was there — and launching yourself into unfamiliar territory.

If we, as a society, change the way we approach discussing pregnancy to a model that’s supportive and warm-intentioned, our advice can carry expecting parents more blissfully into the challenging but rewarding realm of parenthood — and that will benefit us all.

World Maternal Mental Health Day is May 1. Mountain Midwives serves Rossland, Trail, Castlegar, Fruitvale and the surrounding areas. Your local midwife is happy to be contacted with 250-231-0656 for any questions you may have.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man wearing a mask against coronavirus walks past an NHS advertisement about COVID-19 in London, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
92 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths: Interior Health

The region is reporting 92 cases after the weekend

The Nelson Police Department used a nail belt to stop a vehicle carrying large amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine on the weekend. Photo: File photo
Nelson police seize drugs, make arrests, investigate slashed tires

Anyone with information on these events is asked to call 250-354-3919

The fundraising effort to purchase 40 hectares west of Cottonwood Lake announced its success this week. Photo: Submitted
Cottonwood Lake fundraiser reaches goal

The community group has raised $400,000 to purchase 40 hectares of forest

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

Vernon’s Noric House long-term care facility’s COVID-10 outbreak has been declared over by Interior Health. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID outbreak at Vernon’s Noric House declared over

10 deaths were linked to the outbreak at long-term care facility

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Gas prices jumped in Golden to 131.9c this week, a trend that's supposed to continue into the summer. (Claire Palmer/Golden Star)
Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Clovechok concerned as gas prices continue to rise

Fuel prices are supposed to skyrocket this summer as British Columbians await BCUC analysis

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Most Read