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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?

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.

The Invasion of the Belly Touchers

While remarks, comments, and unsolicited advice on eating sushi can be irritating, it's not nearly as stressful as the hands-on, touchy-feely familiarity that seems to run rampant during pregnancy.

"It seems as if the moment your pregnancy starts to show, everyone wants to have a feel at you. It's not so bad when it's family or a friend -- but a stranger? Come on. A pregnant woman has to draw the line somewhere, and it should be here," says Stacy Quarty, author of Frankly Pregnant: A Candid, Week-by-Week Guide to the Unexpected Joys, Raging Hormones, and Common Experiences of Pregnancy.

Brennan agrees. "During my first pregnancy, I was in Grand Central Station and a total stranger grabbed my stomach, so I grabbed hers back! She said, 'What are you doing?' I replied, 'What are you doing?' I'm happy to say she got the point and walked away, though I think you have to be a bit careful when you do something like that, since you never know how the other person is going to react."

And that's precisely why Bennett says the best approach to this pregnancy stress is to put both a physical and mental distance between yourself and strangers.

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