Wednesday, March 6, 2013

When your coworkers find out you are pregnant

My husband and I were trying to conceive for almost two years, and during that time I didn't tell a lot of people about it. I especially didn't tell my coworkers. It's bad enough to have to give updates to your family, I didn't want to endure the questions from the people I worked with.
Leading up to, and immediately following becoming pregnant, I had a lot of doctor appointments. I'm sure my manager had some ideas in her mind, but I was still surprised when she actually asked me! We were alone at our desks, and when she said "can I ask you something" I thought 'I sure hope she doesn't ask if I'm pregnant', but of course that's what the question was. She said it was because of all my additional snacking and appointments. I let her know that I wasn't ready to tell anyone else, it was still pretty early. If I had my choice I would have waited until I was closer to 15 weeks to tell anyone at work.
Once I did let my team know, and the word started spreading, I definitely became more conscious, and probably more sensitive, to people's comments and glances.

From my experience being pregnant while working, here are some things that I would suggest you never say to a pregnant woman.

"I've noticed your face getting fuller, especially with your hair like that."

"When you stood up I could tell you were sticking out more."

"Did I leave enough space for you? I'm going to open the fridge door and I wanted to make sure I left enough space for you and your little family."

It's best not to announce someone's pregnancy to another person while that pregnant person is in the room. For instance, I'm pregnant and eating lunch, coworker A says to coworker B "Hey did you hear the good news? Emily is pregnant." Even though coworker A knows that I'm pregnant, it doesn't mean that we are friends and that she can share my news with people. I can't help who she tells on her own, but while I'm in the room, it's my news, I should be the one to announce it, because what if I didn't want coworker B to know?

Don't say to a pregnant woman, especially early on in the pregnancy "I'm so glad that Alan now knows that you are pregnant. He's been coming by for months asking if you were pregnant!" It might sound innocent, but what it really means is that people have been thinking you've looked pregnant for months, even those months when you thought you were hiding it. Also, it means that everyone is staring at your stomach, all of the time.

Early in someone's pregnancy, don't say "You really are popping out" or "Looks like the kid wants to get out" or "Wow you are starting to get big" especially if you are not close friends with this person, and most especially as coworkers. No one wants their stomach or body type analyzed. It would be better to just say, "You look awesome today" or "You look really great", use positive terminology. A pregnant woman knows that her body is getting bigger, but she does not need everyone pointing it out to her, as if she doesn't realize her stomach is sticking out.
If I don't know you at all, and you are my coworker, don't walk into a room and say "You're getting bigger" or ask "Has your doctor told you how much weight you can gain?"

After discussing with a friend my issues with certain people at work talking to me about my pregnancy I realized that I have some issues with getting big from pregnancy. I've said in my home life that I'm looking forward to a big pregnant belly and have joked about it, but when it comes to work I have hated anyone saying anything about my growing belly. I realized that a lot of this comes from my issues with weight that I've had for a few years. Being in the work place I have always tried to hide my weight and avoid any conversations about working out or the way people look. I mostly don't want to bring my coworkers into that part of my life. But while I was pregnant that was what everyone was focusing on and it made it hard to enjoy pregnancy and working.

It's an age old problem of what do you say to a pregnant woman. Ultimately it comes down to thinking before you speak. What is the most appropriate comment for the situation. What you think is funny might be completely offensive to someone who is pregnant.

As a former pregnant person who experienced some really ridiculous comments, I'm here to say yes, it does happen, but also that you should try to not let it bother you. Not letting it bother you is definitely hard, but just remember that pregnancy is an amazing experience, and it is your experience. It is unfortunate that people can be so rude, but it is also unfortunate that they seem ignorant about their rudeness. I have also experienced ridiculous comments after being pregnant, such as "are you pregnant again?" I thought that was a question people knew never to ask! To me this is the worst, to be asked if you are pregnant when you are not. The lessons I have learned is to always be positive in comments to a pregnant woman, and never ask a women if she is pregnant, ever. There are other ways of getting that information, and ultimately, it's none of your business anyway.

A good article on How to handle rude comments from BabyCenter.