I was asked via Twitter (and very nicely): If these are the things you can’t ask of or say to a pregnant woman, what can you ask or say?
I think it’s acceptable to say the following.
1. “Congratulations!” After all, if she’s telling you, it’s probably good news. (Unless she’s the prom queen in the high school bathroom. That might be awkward.)
2. “When are you due?”
3. “Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” (Some moms-to-be will be smart asses and answer this question, “Yes.” Also be advised that the mom-to-be will not know this until week 20/month 5, or later.)
4. Variation on #3: “Will you find out if it’s a boy or a girl?” Hey, some people still like to be surprised.
5. If you hear the term midwife or doula, you may, politely and with no skepticism whatsoever in your voice, inquire about those terms if you have questions. In short, a midwife is a certified nurse-midwife to be exact; they are fully licensed for well-woman and gynecological care, and can deliver babies. They cannot administer medicine (such as pitocin and/or epidurals; a registered nurse, doctor or anesthesiologist has to do that kind of thing). Doulas, on the other hand, are support for the mother, there to encourage and assist her. They are not medical personnel. As I mentioned, labor is not exactly a walk in the park, and sometimes a woman needs all the help she can get.
But don’t, whatever you do for the love of Pete, question a mother-to-be’s judgement to use midwives, doulas, birthing centers, or even have a home birth. How to bring a baby into the world is as intensely personal as the decision to have a baby in the first place.
6. “Do you need anything?” I don’t mean for you to ask this question so you can find out where the couple is registered. Just a more general, “Hey, can I help you out?” This is probably reserved for close friends, rather than co-workers and acquaintances, as the answer may vary from, “Yeah, can you pick me up a caramel latte while you’re out?” to “I need help folding my laundry and bathing my children.”
After the birth: Food is always welcome. Just so ya know.
Moms? Dads? Anything to add?