A field guide on how to approach a Heavily Pregnant Woman (HPW)

On the surface the slow moving HPW may look like a panda bear: docile and cuddly as she lumbers along or chows down on shoots and leaves. Ones immediate reaction upon spying a ‘friendly’ looking HPW might be to approach with wild abandonment; attempt to engage in conversation or pet her. Don’t! How ever playful they may look on the surface things can turn nasty in a blink of an eye:

Like all wild animals an HPW needs to be approached with caution, and should never be stopped when in flight. For instance, if you spy an HPW about to enter a subway station I would not advice shouting that you want to speak to her, and then engage her in a lengthy one-sided conversations where you criticize her choices and ends with you patting her belly (without permission). This scenario is unacceptable for a number of reasons. Firstly, it takes a fair amount of effort and energy to keep an HPW in motion so she will not thank you for interrupting her journey and forcing her to stay on her feet for longer than necessary. Secondly, unsolicited advice should be kept to positive points only save the negatives for your own friends and family or start a blog if you have a burning desire to dispense wisdom to all and sundry. And, finally the ‘no touching’ policy that keeps society in check (be it precious objects in a museum or your ass on the D train) has not been suspended for HPW. If you must ‘rub the belly for luck’ then take a submissive position (so not to frighten the HPW as she is no longer as nimble as a gazelle at this point so it is harder for her to flee) and ask permission.

The best environment to approach a HPW is when she is already sitting down or waiting in line as she has to be on her feet any way. If she is in a cafe or restaurant why not approach her with an offering of food. I am sure she will happily listen away or answer the same questions she gets over and over again if she is munching on a gratis raspberry tart or a donut. Also, if she is eating/drinking something that you feel is inappropriate for an HPW pause a moment because unless she is doing something illegal it is none of your business.

And finally, the intimate questions. Unless you have a financial or emotional stake in the conception and parenting of the babies then it’s really none of your business. If a HPW is pregnant with twins does it matter if they “run in her family or not”? Whilst a HPW may resemble a panda that does not mean that it is open season on every intimate detail from soup to nuts, or conception to college.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. BookishlyFab
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 17:49:19

    I haven’t reached HPW status just yet, but my biggest problem right now is a co-worker who will ask me a question about the baby and then use it as a launching board to tell really long and constant stories about her pregnancy / child rearing experience. We had an hour shift on the ref desk together yesterday, and I nearly went insane, willing patrons to come ask questions with my mind.

    I had a comment about drinking a Diet Coke the other day. I had a headache and needed a tiny bit of caffeine to get me through the rest of the day. As it was the first one I’ve had in over a month, I didn’t appreciate the judging.

    Good luck in your trials as a HPW!

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    • Leah Hung
      Sep 04, 2011 @ 18:24:34

      Eeek – that is no fun. And, don’t get me started on the caffeine/diet advice. As far as I am concerned as long as my doctor tells me one cup of coffee is fine then that’s all I need know, and if occasionally I may have two regular sized cups of coffee (or a coffee and then a coke) then so be it. If I was living in Europe then they’d be telling me to avoid different things than they do in the US, and they wouldn’t have an issue with a morning latte and an afternoon Americano. One of my friends went to WholeFoods a week before her due date to buy the ingredients for lasagne so she could make and freeze it to eat after her baby came; and a complete stranger came straight up to her and told her that under no circumstances should she make a lasagne! Because if she ate it whilst breast feeding then the baby could become lactose intolerant! My friend went home, made the lasagne and she said when she ate it it was the best meal ever in that first week home with her daughter.

      I have a friend who is a sociologist and she was telling me about research into this as pregnant women transition from having a ‘private body’ to a ‘public body’. Might do some googling on it but then again it might depress me in my HPW state….

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