Office Etiquette: 5 Things NOT to Say to a Pregnant Colleague

Motherhood, and the whole experience, isn’t an easy one. And it can get especially tough for pregnant women at the workplace, warding of uncomfortable questions and awkward comments on a daily basis. Usually, talk about personal life and sex is off-limits at work, and this topic falls in the gray area in between the two. Knowing what you can and can’t say to a pregnant co-worker can be a little tricky. It all begins with awareness, and the fact that you are interested enough to know more, does earn you a brownie point. Respecting her privacy and personal space is key here. Read on to find out more about the things NOT to say to a pregnant colleague (irrespective of your gender!).

1. Was the baby planned?

This can be an uncomfortable question for her to answer, since you are asking her a particularly intimate one – about her contraceptive choices! While you may ask it very innocently, it may not be as well received as you would expect. Besides, imagine if the answer is “no”, wouldn’t the conversation get particularly awkward then?

2. You look huge, are you expecting twins?

This question has great potential to be regarded as an insult. Under no circumstance is it acceptable to make a comment on the size of a pregnant lady. They already have enough trouble negotiating all that extra body mass without people pointing it out! Another thing worthy of mentioning here is, never assume someone is pregnant just judging by their size, unless they’ve explicitly told you they are. Even if someone else has told you a co-worker is expecting, it is best you reserve any comments about the same, lest it lands you in an uncomfortable situation.

3. Are you excited about your maternity leave?

Not a very sensitive thing to say, since a maternity leave does not exactly equal a vacation, unless sleepless nights and nappy changes are your idea of a vacation! If given a choice, to deliver the baby without all that preparation, she would choose to work than take the maternity leave, any day! She’s having a tough enough time without having to respond to comments like these.

4. You should have this. You shouldn’t have that.

You know how when you have acne, you have hundred different people giving you all kinds of advice? Mostly stupid advice. This is almost like that, only much worse. Trust this that she is more concerned about her health and her baby’s health than you ever will be. So let her, and her gynecologist decide what she should or shouldn’t drink or eat!

5. Can I touch your belly?

Just saying that sounds so gross. Imagine how uncomfortable she will feel if she really doesn’t want random people to be feeling her bump, but says yes just to be polite! It’s different if she is excited enough to ask you if you want to feel the baby kicking. You might ask with warm intentions but it is best not to ask, since again, this being an extremely intimate experience, she may not want people touching her tummy all the time.

Things that you can say though (and that she will appreciate hearing from you) : a heartfelt wish – “I am so happy for you – congratulations!”, a genuine compliment – “you look awesome!” or a sincere offer to help – “Can I get you something from the cafeteria ?”.

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