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Health & Pregnancy

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Pregnancy Violations: Don’t Be a Victim

Scary labor stories, probing questions, unsolicited belly-rubbing: How can a mom-to-be handle these pregnancy etiquette violations gracefully?

Unwanted Questions continued...

"The most important thing to realize is that you do not have to answer these questions in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable or leaves you feeling that you said more than you wanted to. Keep remembering you are under no obligation to share your pregnancy specifics, even with family members, unless you want to," says Bennett.

If it feels awkward not to say anything, Bennett suggests giving a positive, but vague, reply. So, for example, if someone asks if your conception was "natural," if you're going to have a C-section, if you plan on breastfeeding, try responding with, "We're just so thrilled we're going to be parents; now what's new in your life?"

"The point is to politely get around the question and then redirect attention back to the other person," says Bennett.

Brennan says her favorite technique is to answer a question with a question. "I like to turn the tables immediately and respond with, 'That's an interesting question -- why do you want to know?' They usually get the message," she says, adding that chances are they won't ask you anything personal again.

Labor Room War Stories

For some of us, it's definitely the "nosy" pregnancy questions that are most annoying. But for others, it's the unsolicited advice that drives us to distraction, particularly the legions of labor horror stories that seem to be on the tip of everyone's tongue the minute your pregnancy becomes apparent.

Brennan says from the moment she opened, she was flooded with letters from women asking for advice on how to put a cease-fire on those labor room war stories.

"Somehow, I think that every woman who sees a pregnant woman feels it's her obligation to pass along the world's most scary labor and delivery stories. Even if it's not their own experience, they still have to let you know everything that could possibly go wrong," says Brennan.

Bennett says the answer is to muster up your courage, be bold, and turn down the unsolicited advice post haste!

"You don't have to be nasty or mean. You can simply interrupt the story and say, 'I know you are a wealth of information about pregnancy, and if I ever have a question you will definitely be the person I call. But every pregnancy is different and every delivery is different, so I'd kind of like to be surprised by what nature has in store for me,'" Brennan notes.

Brennan says she takes a slightly more aggressive approach. "Mothers really need to just say, 'I've heard enough. Thank you so much, but I don't want to hear anymore.' Say it nicely, but say it like you mean it," she says.

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