How to treat a pregnant woman
Pregnant women. They’re a tricky bunch, what with the hormonal, physical, and emotional changes they are experiencing. I think I can speak for most pregnant women when I say that you could tell us something one day and we’d be fine, but on another day, it might reduce us to tears (and no, we don’t know why!). I still remember wondering what on earth was wrong with me when I dropped a newly-bought fountain Diet Pepsi soda all over the ground and became almost distraught. Now, those of you who know me well know I really enjoy a nice fountain soda, but .. what on earth? My emotional response was just a bit over the top … but then I found out soon after that I was pregnant. Ah, yes. Now it all made sense. 😉
With that being said, you should still try to encourage the pregnant women around you. I’ve talked to others and have myself thought about some of the things you should or shouldn’t say to women who are experiencing pregnancy. This list is not exhaustive, and in fact, it’s probably just the beginning of such a list …
- Do not share your own birth story if you can’t share something encouraging. Seriously, if I had had knee surgery that hadn’t gone well, I wouldn’t feel the need to share the hard details with someone else having the same surgery. And yet, pregnancy seems to be in a different league of experiences – suddenly, it is perfectly fine for women (known or strangers) to share about some “horrific experience” they had while giving birth. Huh? NO, IT’S NOT OK. Don’t do it. Ever.
- Do pray for her and her family. Better yet, ask her for specifics on how you can pray for them.
- Do not feel the need to comment on her size. If she’s small, that can evoke fears of something being wrong. I was told this all the time in my pregnancy with Elijah – I assured everyone that I had a long torso, thus having more of a place to put a baby, but for awhile, I had to internally wrestle with wondering if something was wrong. If she’s larger, there’s really no need to call it to her attention – she knows she is large. If you feel the need to comment on her appearance, call to attention that she is a beautiful pregnant woman (even if she doesn’t believe you), if you notice she has put special effort into her appearance, etc.
- Do ask how she is doing beyond the physical changes (if you are a close enough friend). As referenced earlier, there are so many changes going on emotionally and mentally … care for her as a whole person and acknowledge the changes beyond the physical that are definitely occurring for her.
- Do not assume that just because she has not yet had the baby, she has no need for help. Offer to bring a meal. Take her out for coffee. Offer to come to her house and help with any last-minute projects she needs to have done in order to feel ready for the baby to come. Bring her flowers. Send her a card to let her know you are thinking about her. Throw her a baby shower, even if she’s already had 4 other kids (make sure to ask her what needs they have that you can help meet through the shower gifts). Buy a local Groupon for a manicure or pedicure and send her off to be pampered (especially as she is getting larger – women at that point can tend to feel plain awkward rather than beautiful). If she has other children already, take them so that she can take a nap, finish up a project, have some alone time, or go on a date with her husband. Be creative and specific to the friend you are seeking to bless.
- Do ask her if she has any fears or sadness about having a baby – and then simply sit with her (or relay your similar story of feeling the same, if applicable). One friend of mine has struggled with not feeling the freedom to admit that she is sometimes sad or not excited about having a baby (especially due to mourning that it will no longer just be her and her husband). She told me that most of time when she does choose to share, she is told that her mind/heart will change when her baby comes and that she will wonder how she ever lived without him/her. My friend doesn’t doubt this is true, but she doesn’t need to be “fixed” right now. She needs others to enter into her grief and walk with her through what she is currently experiencing.
The bottom line? Seek to intentionally love, serve, and encourage the pregnant women around you. Do it today! Think of a pregnant woman you know and pick one of the above ideas, or one of your own, and carry it out. She will be glad you did … and so will you.
What about you? What kinds of things did others do for you while you were pregnant that you were specifically blessed by? What things (or words) did others do or say that were particularly discouraging to you? I would love to hear them!
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