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10 Pregnant Friend Do’s and Don’ts

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Your pregnant friends depend on you. They need you for support, encouragement, compassion. Your 9-months-along, very pregnant, "skating toward and past her estimated due date" friend needs a special sort of interaction.

A very specific, special sort of interaction.

Follow these do's and don'ts to help make her last week of pregnancy as tolerable as possible.

1. DON'T tell her the same things she probably hears from her annoying uncle and/or the nosy lady at the grocery store

"You look like you're about to pop!"

"Holy crap, did you swallow a basketball?!"

"You've gotten HUGE since I last saw you!"

Surprise. She's pregnant—and she knows it. In fact, no one knows it better than her. She's the one with the roughly 8-pound bowling ball writhing in their uterus. She doesn't need anyone—especially a friend—to remind her just how big and uncomfortable-looking she is.

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2. DO shower her with praise

Describe pregnant friends as: Strong. Beautiful. Wise. Amazing.

Praise them for making tough decisions or overcoming adversity. Tell them that you're proud of them for getting so much work done before their baby's birth, for decorating such a gorgeous nursery or for making it through nine months without slapping Annoying Uncle and Nosy Lady at the Grocery Store. Give them space to vent their frustrations about their swollen ankles or their lower back pain or their persistent congestion, and tell them that they can speak all the hard truths they want about pregnancy. Why? Because they are growing a whole new human being (or human beings), and that is incredible.

And if they're not in the mood for compliments, a simple, "You're a mother-effing goddess" will suffice.

3. DON'T ever, ever, ever ask them if they've had the baby yet

Anyone who asks this question should be sentenced to four meconium diaper changes and a night of colicky baby duty. That's a pretty light sentence, if you ask me.

No one deserves to greet childbirth with that much extra stress.

4. DO ask them about topics—or take them on outings—that have absolutely nothing to do with pregnancy or babies or crib assembly

Play to your audience: Ask them about the things that interested them before they started gestating.

"So what do you think about [insert timely news story]?"

"I like coffee. You like coffee. Your nurse-midwife says that coffee is A-OK for you. Want to go grab a coffee?"

"Would you like to binge-watch 'Scandal' and gorge ourselves on snacks that the Internet would totally approve of, like kale chips, and by 'kale chips,' I mean 'potato skins, chocolate ice cream, and whatever else you damn well want to eat'?"

5. DON'T share any horrible birth stories

Not the infections. Not the gigantic vaginal tear or episiotomy. Not the C-section or VBAC or epidural or home birth gone terribly wrong. Not your cousin's veterinarian's sister's 2,782-hour labor.

The truth is, most pregnant people know that there is a possibility that some part of childbirth might be less-than-perfect. A good support team—especially a skilled care provider—can help to alleviate and/or address those possibilities if they do arise. But too many birth horror stories can make a person's anxiety and "unhealthy" fears skyrocket. No one deserves to greet childbirth with that much extra stress.

With that said, if you need to process the trauma of your own birth experience, find someone other than a friend who is about to give birth herself. A counselor, therapist or a trusted (and possibly trained) friend can help tremendously.

Organize a meal train. Plan to take them a weekly bag of grocery staples. Wash a few loads of laundry.

6. DO keep your judgments about their birth choices to yourself

You think self-hypnosis is silly? Keep it to yourself. Many people find it incredibly soothing during labor. If it ends up not working well for your friend, she'll likely have access to other comfort techniques.

You wish she would have chosen a VBAC over a repeat cesarean? They're each relatively safe birth options with unique sets of benefits and risks. What's more, it's not your body. Not your choice.

You think her plans to breastfeed are gross? Sorry, you're just plain silly.

Even if your concerns are 100 percent legitimate, your friend probably doesn't need to hear any more about what she should or shouldn't be doing. She's about to get a lifetime of that nonsense as a mother. Instead, simply listen to her, ask good questions and convey your concerns with respect for her particular values, preferences and circumstances.

And if you do ever feel the need to sprinkle your opinionated fairy dust all over your pregnant friend, stop and remind yourself of these four words: It's. Not. Your. Birth.

7. DON'T plan to show up every day once the baby is born and expect the new mom to play host to you

Newborns turn people's worlds upside down. They deprive people of sleep, sustenance and focus in a way that few other normal life experiences do.

So before you show up to their home, remember that you should expect nothing more than the following from a new parent and their living space:

The maximum visiting time: half-an-hour for simple chit-chatty, baby-gazing visits.

The dress code: pajamas.

The décor: laundry piled on the floor and takeout boxes on the counter.

The menu: whatever someone else cooks and/or whatever they can scrounge up with one spitup-stained hand.

The conversation: three-word sentences, scattered thoughts and baby-centric topics ranging from poo color to breastmilk leakage.

If you expect anything more, you are a monster.

The onslaught of unsolicited advice that new parents receive can feel suffocating.

8. DO plan to offer them practical support—even before the baby is born

Organize a meal train. Plan to take them a weekly bag of grocery staples. Wash a few loads of laundry. Hold the baby so that the new parent can take a shower. Hold the new parent who's struggling with a postpartum mood disorder.

Don't be a monster: Be a magnificent friend.

9. DON'T give unsolicited advice

The onslaught of unsolicited advice that new parents receive can feel suffocating. Unless you see something truly dangerous—such as an infant car seat perched on top of a grocery cart or or a baby sleeping on a water bed or an indication that your friend might have postpartum psychosis—keep your wisdom to yourself.

10. DO share your insights when asked. But mostly, share your love.

Listen. Respond with love. Offer advice that's non-judgmental and confidence-inspiring. Share your experience. Be honest about what you do not know.

Tell your friend that her parenting instincts are good. Tell them her that you are there for her and that you will still be there for her once she has emerged from the haze of the newborn days.

Refer them to their pediatrician, lactation consultant or other professional if their questions surpass your own expertise.

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And no matter what you say, end it all with this: "You're doing a great job."

It's something all moms, new and experienced, need to hear more often.

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