When your friend announces she's having a baby, what do you say? It's fair to be surprised - perhaps you weren't expecting it - but when it comes to a stream of consciousness about anything baby related, you should probably think again. Here, deputy editor of Emerald Street and mother-of-one (soon to be two), Mollie McGuigan, talks through the things you definitely shouldn't say when a friend reveals she's expecting...
“I knew it!”
Slow handclap for the killjoy! Your friend has spent 12 weeks coercing bar staff into disguising sparkling water as a G&T and fabricating reasons for why she can't make Saturday yoga classes anymore. Just let her have this moment believing she foxed you. Don't pounce on her like Jessica Fletcher and plot your way through the last three months, flagging up all the times she pulled the wool over your eyes. This is not about you.
“But you were really drunk!”
You couldn't help yourself, could you? Scanning through all the times you were fooled, you remember that time your friend was off her face while growing a speck of human in her uterus. Do you A, launch into a shocked analysis of what that could mean for the foetus or B, keep quiet because shaming mothers is bad and it's probably fine and to say anything else would be unhelpful and contribute to her already towering list of anxieties? (Answer is B)
“Were you trying for long?”
None. Of. Your. Business. Think of the possible backstories here – years of trying, miscarriages, a drunken mistake that she's now trying to make the best of. Are you the person to confide these potentially painful and complex issues to? If you're having this conversation in an open-plan office, the answer is definitely no.
“Rather you than me.”
Silly, short-sighted you. You may well skip off reassured that it’s not your lady garden that’s about to be traumatised but remember: it might be you one day and you’ll want all your friends to offer nothing but positivity (in short: remember your sense of sisterhood).
“My friend had a baby and tore her bum hole.”
Well done! If your friend wasn’t worried about pushing a small person out of her fanny before, she certainly is now. "I'm pregnant" is not a cue for you to recall every horrific birth story you’ve ever heard. No pregnant woman needs to hear about that friend who tore to her anus, or the one who nearly died in labour, or the one whose baby was stillborn. If you don’t understand why they wouldn’t want to hear these things, you are quite clearly a moron.
“Can’t you just have a C section?”
Of course – because caesareans are such a walk in the park, eh? There you are, dressed up like an extra from Holby City, anaesthetised from the waist down, with a doctor cutting through several layers of tissue to extract your baby. Then they sew you up and pack you off home 48 hours later, with painkillers that make you constipated and strict instructions not to lift anything heavy or drive a car. But hey, at least while you’re lying in bed clutching a pillow to your wounded body you have plenty of time to mull over how you will conquer The First Poo while feeling like your abdomen might burst open.
“You're going to be the perfect mum.”
We all know perfection is a crock of shit, but once women are launched into the world of parenting it’s easy to forget that and be bowled over by the mummy marketers who present a vision of new motherhood that involves being slim, manicured and having a beautiful child who doesn’t have baby acne or dry flaky skin in their hairline. Back in the real world, there will be days when mums ace motherhood but there will be many more where they are exhausted, on the verge of tears and wondering when they might start to actually enjoy this life-changing experience. Don’t tell your friend she’ll be a perfect mother, instead offer her a kind and reassuring voice and remind her that on the days she feels like she’s sinking, she must cut herself some slack and remember there is always alcohol and, eventually, sleep.