(Anna Post is the spokeswoman for The Emily Post Institute, a
U.S.-based organization founded in 1946 that addresses societal
concerns including business etiquette, raising polite children
and civility. The opinions expressed are her own. The Emily Post
Institute's website is www.emilypost.com)
By Anna Post
BURLINGTON, Vermont, March 26 From unsolicited
baby bump touches to having your big news scooped on Facebook,
modern pregnancy has an etiquette all its own. To keep the
pregnant glow, consider the following:
Sharing the News
There are few pieces of news as exciting to share as
pregnancy. Whether it is a first or fifth, a surprise or long
hoped for, it is joyful news.
The choice about who to tell and when will vary from family
to family. Though some couples share the news as soon as the
pregnancy is confirmed, it's smart to wait until the first
trimester is well in hand. Most people tell immediate family
first, followed by close friends.
If you're one of the first to know, this conversation may be
accompanied by a request to hold the information close until the
couple has the chance to tell others personally.
Some women will make an announcement at a family event to
make sure their closest loved ones hear about it directly from
Facebook has added an extra twist: Until the couple is ready
for anyone to know about a pregnancy, they might restrict their
Facebook wall to prevent an over-eager well wisher from spilling
the beans. Even if a Facebook wall is active, be sure the news
is truly public knowledge before posting congratulations.
If you deduce someone is expecting, either from an extra
glow or a declined glass of wine, show respect by allowing her
to tell you in her own time. When she breaks the news, it's okay
to share the insight you had then.
Some women enjoy the occasional belly rub or pat from close
friends and family and see it as part of sharing the joy of
expecting a baby. Others don't. Never pat a pregnant woman's
belly without first asking or being invited to do so.
If someone asks to pat your bump and you would rather they
didn't, simply say so-it's not rude to tell them no.
"Thanks for asking, but I'd rather you not." If they reach
out without asking, say, "I know it's tempting, but please don't
touch." You can add action to words and step back, fold your
hands over your belly, or reach out to gently stop their touch.
And almost all pregnant women agree that a belly pat from a
complete stranger is entirely inappropriate. It's not okay to
walk up to a non-pregnant stranger and touch their belly, and
the same goes for a woman who is pregnant.
If you have this impulse, curb it, and instead smile and
offer congratulations and ask when she is due-this is the right
way to show your excitement over a stranger's pregnancy.
Sometimes excitement is misplaced rather than mis-expressed.
Be quite sure a woman is pregnant before assuming and asking
when she is due. If she says, "I'm not pregnant," there is no
graceful exit beyond, "I beg your pardon." Then drop the
subject-there is nothing else that can be said to make it
Successful Seat Giving
It's a lovely gesture (and sometimes the law) to offer your
seat on the bus or subway to someone in need. Yet this is a
gesture that too often fails to happen for pregnant women.
Granted, some might be just fine standing. But others would
appreciate the seat, and offering yours-whether you are a man or
a woman-is the right thing to do.
Though many people will say yes when offered that chance,
others want to say yes but don't want to inconvenience someone
who was there first. No matter who you might be offering your
seat to or why, the best way to get them to accept is to first
stand up, then offer. It's much easier to accept an empty seat
than a filled one.
And if no one offers but you need a seat, simply ask.
"Pardon me, but would you mind letting me sit? I'd really
All but the lousiest of people will hop right up for a
pregnant woman; and if they don't, you can be sure the person
next to them will.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)