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Being pregnant is a miracle, truly.

For nine months, moms-to-be enjoy the feeling of something beautiful growing inside them. That, and the odd wave of nausea, seriously sensitive bladders, the occasional backache and hormones that have you laughing one minute, and crying the next.

One of the hardest things to handle when pregnant (and one that will likely stretch into the first year of parenthood) is the unsolicited parenting advice people tend to offer once they find out there’s a bun in the oven. As it turns out, everybody is an expert parent – even if they’re not a parent.

Growing a baby is hard work and pregnant women deserve to enjoy every step of the way. So, whether you know someone at work who’s about to pop or you’re about to become a favourite auntie all over again, here is a reminder of 5 things you should never say to a pregnant woman:

Ask before you touch

As tempting as it is to touch the belly, it’s always prudent to ask first. Yes, some women welcome the attention, but never assume that’s the case. You never know if a woman is experiencing discomfort or is feeling self-conscious about her newly acquired bump. Odds are she’ll say yes, but just remember to ask before you touch.

Don’t ask how much they weigh

Every pregnancy, like every woman, is completely different. Pregnant women can gain anywhere from between 25-40lbs. The final number is between mommy-to-be and the scale she stands on. Avoid asking your pregnant friend or partner how much weight they’ve gained over the course of their pregnancy – and pass them the ice cream instead.

Never assume there’s more than one baby in the belly

“Are you pregnant with twins?” This is a question dreaded by nearly every pregnant woman who has gained an extra pound or two over the past nine months. It’s important to remember that every woman carries differently – some may be “all belly” while others might stretch further around the sides and carry less up front. Not all pregnant women look the same. It doesn’t matter how big you think a pregnant woman is; unless you want double the trouble, never – ever – assume she’s carrying twins.

Avoid the topic of breastfeeding

For some women, nursing is an incredible experience that promotes a unique bond between mother and child. For some, it’s simply not an option, due to any number of valid medical reasons. And for others, not breastfeeding is a personal choice that is a result (more often than not) of the enormous anxiety, stress and exhaustion that accompany those first few days of being a mom. If it’s not your baby, best to reign in the question (and the judgement).

Don’t make them choose between their career – and their unborn baby

You’re asking “do you plan on going back to work?” – but that’s not what they hear. One of the hardest decisions for moms and dads taking time off have to face is the idea of going back to work once the baby arrives. With a year to go before any decision has to be made, let each parent discover what life with baby looks like before asking them to commit one way or another, and put this one on the backburner for a few months, at least.

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