The “Don’t List” When It Comes to Addressing A Pregnant Person Or A Newborn At the Party
The first time I had a kid, I was a new mom who had no idea what I was getting myself into. I let people do and say things to me because I bought into the false public narrative that pregnant women belong to the world. They don’t. A pregnant woman belongs to herself and no one has the right to touch, poke or prod her without permission.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I beefed up my pregnancy defenses. I was not a new mom anymore, and I knew what to expect from the randos on the street and the coughing, hacking sickos with pinkeye who insisted on trying to grab my stomach at the grocery store.
In that spirit, just before Christmas of 2015, I posted a list on my website detailing the things people really should stop saying to gestating women. This list also included things to refrain from doing to a kid around the holidays. Basically, when in doubt, just be quiet. And when it comes to a child, unless the kid is about to be mortally wounded or cause significant damage, let the parent handle everything.
Here’s the rest of my list, plus a few more for good measure. It is geared toward holiday festivities as a pregnant woman or a parent with a newborn. With Memorial Day and July 4th coming soon, you might appreciate this short take.
That said, here’s my PSA of a holiday party list.
1. Don’t touch a pregnant belly unless she offers. Remember: it’s her uterus! And sometimes it HURTS so don’t touch. Behave accordingly.
2. Don’t ask if/when someone will have more kids. That really hurts people who are reproductively challenged. And, how would YOU know if she had ever miscarried? Just don’t ask.
3. Don’t buy guns for kids. If it happens at all, that’s a parental decision, not an “auntie” or “uncle” or “best friend” or “God parent” decision.
4. Don’t call a pregnant woman or a woman who just had a kid “fat.” In fact, don’t call anyone fat.
5. Don’t compare children or babies. Some are stout. Some are short. Some are thick. Some are thin. All develop differently and you aren’t a doctor so be quiet. Practice saying: “What a lovely child.” And then zip your lips.
6. Don’t tell a new mother that her baby will be spoiled because she is holding her baby. A newborn cannot be spoiled. It is not possible to spoil a baby. When you have your own baby, do what you want, but stop trying to force folk to torture their children (yes, torture) by refusing to touch them or comfort a baby when they cry.
7. A baby who needs to nurse trumps your desire to hold him. When baby cries it’s already too late. Give the kid back to mom when she asks the first time. If the baby squirms or turns her head toward you chest, that baby is hungry. Give baby immediately back to mom. Immediately.
8. Don’t go if you have an infection that can hospitalize a baby or an old person. Pneumonia, bronchitus, stomach flu, strep throat, pink eye and anything that has you coughing out a lung are all good reasons to stay home from the party…
9. Don’t touch someone else’s heat or open windows without permission. [Open windows are a problem for people with small children. Just. Don’t. Open. The. Window. Small children can fall out and mom had NO IDEA you opened the window. If you are hot? Go outside. Wave a fan. Leave. Just don’t open the window or prop open a door.]
10. For the love of GOD and all things holy, do not try to force a child to kiss or hug you. A child is a human. If you forced an adult to hug or kiss you, it would interpreted as sexual assault and someone could call the police on you. So, when it comes to kids, behave yourselves accordingly. I don’t have to kiss you. Neither does my kid.
11. Lay off on the tickling. You look gross and weird tickling a child. Plus, a tickle that lasts longer than 15 seconds is not OK. Please stop.
12. Lay off on trying to exchange a piece of candy or plate of spaghetti for a kiss. Sexual favors in exchange for food? Just stop.
13. If you know you have an STD, be mindful of asymptomatic shedding. This is why you shouldn’t kiss a baby unless you are damn sure you don’t have a cold sore coming on or a herpes outbreak on your lips. In fact, unless you have permission, just don’t kiss a baby on the eyes, lips or nose. Got it? Good.
14. Don’t tell a nursing mother that she’s nursing too much.
15. If you are doing the inviting for a party at your place, don’t guilt a new family into coming to your event. A loud BBQ with drunk folk, crazy fireworks, mosquitos, throngs of people, loud music and smoke can be a challenging location for a newborn. If a new parent says they aren’t sure about attending your event with their babe, just let them be. After all, this won’t be the last party you throw, will it?