It's inevitable ? as soon as your belly starts to swell, the unwanted comments swell right along with it. Everyone has something to say... but what can you do or say? Ann Silberman has some ideas for coping.
Ann Silberman

Complete strangers
Canadian mom, Michelle Peacock was shopping one day when the store clerk looked at her boy/girl twins strapped in their stroller and pronounced them "the perfect family." She says, "I felt a surge of anger as I stood there, unmistakably 8-1/2 months pregnant with the baby I knew would make our family perfect."

It's inevitable: as soon as your belly starts to swell, the unwanted comments swell right along with it. It will seem like everyone you encounter has an opinion or a question. "You look ready to pop!" "You are way too small, are you sure you are seven months?" Complete strangers who normally wouldn't give you a second glance feel free to ask intimate details about your personal life. "Did you plan it?" "How long did you try before you got pregnant?" Even worse, they will reach out and touch your belly, as if rubbing Buddha for luck.

Assumptions will be made about your desire for a certain gender, and people will give you their opinions about how large your family should be. Dealing with unwanted comments and insensitive questions during the last months of pregnancy is such a universal experience that it can almost be considered a rite of passage. As such, you can prepare in advance how to handle it.

Good intentions
First, try and keep in mind that most people are well-intentioned and mean no harm. Many will simply find it easy to start a conversation with you because a topic seems obvious. Since pregnancy is seen as a happy time, the perception may be that you would like nothing better than to discuss the intimate details of your condition. Some women who see you become flooded with memories of their own pregnancies, and instantly consider you as a member of their "club." This may create a false feeling of intimacy with you, and the result can be that they relive their own experiences and want to contrast and compare them with yours.

Women who have not had children yet may be curious and ask an unfeeling question due to a lack of knowledge. Whatever the reason, knowing that people mean well and remembering that insensitivity doesn't equal unkindness can help you keep your cool when hearing these comments.

Plan beforehand

Next, decide in advance which information you wish to give out, and prepare some responses. Do you want the general public to know details of the pregnancy? Whether you wish for a boy or a girl? Whether you planned to have the child or not? What medical tests you have scheduled? For example, if you refuse to discuss your child's conception, plan what you will say when asked. "I'm sorry, but that is a personal question," stated in a calm and pleasant tone should be enough to make the person back off. While you cannot prepare for every eventuality, knowing what facts you want to share and where you draw the line will help you stay relaxed when faced with an indelicate question.

Laugh it off
A very effective way of handling unwanted attention is by using humor. You're under no obligation to provide information upon demand, but you can avoid seeming indignant by saying something lightly amusing.

One older mom was frequently asked if she had planned to have a child at her age. She simply laughed and stated that she was "certainly old enough to know better." This allowed her to give out no information while seeming to be accommodating. Another mom remembered feeling besieged by strangers touching her belly during a previous pregnancy, so the next time she had an oversized tee shirt made up with the words "Fragile! Please don't touch!" printed on the front.

Life lessons
Understanding that people are trying to be friendly when they talk to you, being conscious of what you want others to know, preparing a response, and planning an easygoing demeanor will help you keep calm when faced with yet another question about your physical state. And, when all is said and done, this practice in facing unwanted comments will come in handy as your days of motherhood begin. You will soon discover that unwelcome remarks do not go away after the birth of your child, they simply morph into comments on your child-rearing ability. Now may be the time to take to heart Miss Manners' enduring advice by mastering the bland smile and the simple phrase "Thank you for your concern."

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