Giving birth

Please don’t ask me about early labour!

Pregnant women understand the risks they face with early labour—and casual questions about possible complications don't help one bit.

By Tenille Bonoguore
early labour Photo: iStockphoto

Newsflash to everyone that I’ve spoken to since April: Yes, I know that babies sometimes come early. Yes, I’m aware it’s more likely with twins. No, I don’t need constant reminders of that fact. It’s a strange transition when you go from “She might be pregnant… or it could be too many croissants” to being obviously, blatantly with child.

As the belly grows, so does the comfort level of people around you to say things you never really wanted to hear, like birth stories, questions about your nipples, or the words “May I touch your belly?” coming from the mouth of a complete and utter stranger.

Topping the list of things a heavily pregnant woman doesn’t want to hear, though, are the odds that something could go wrong.

If you’re at an earlier stage of pregnancy, start looking now for the gleam that comes into people’s eyes just before they ask if you’re ready for premature labour/an emergency Caesarian/epidural mishaps etc.

Once you can recognize that sinister shine, flee as soon as it appears! Use any excuse you need, because it might be the only way you avoid becoming the abrupt beast I now seem to be.

You see, everyone — and I mean everyone — thinks that my babies will come early. And somehow, they’ve all come to the agreement that I must be completely unaware of this possibility.


Why do I assume this is the case? Because every damn person who asks about my mid-June due date immediately leans back, shoots me a knowing look with that gleam, and says “Ah, so that means they’ll be here in May.”

You know what? No, it doesn’t.

Sure, they might come in May. But they might come in mid-June, or we could go over our due date and have two very-well-cooked newborns on our hands. Believe it or not, I’m preparing for all of those eventualities. I just don’t really want to talk about the least ideal of them.

When the “early” comments started to appear, I still had the ability to politely deflect them with a deft and witty retort. But now, I’ve morphed into a short-tempered, sharp-tongued blob of acid.

Just this past weekend, my lovely and well-meaning father-in-law joined the “early arrival” chorus. Did I gently demur? Politely sidestep? No. I snapped “Don’t say that!” — then I heard the sharpness of my tone, and instantly regretted it.


It’s a tough situation, because people mean well when they talk about this stuff. But the honest truth is that I know that my babies might come early. I’ve read about the risks this can bring, and have discussed with my doctor how we can best prepare for that eventuality.

We are hoping, however, that they don’t, because we want them to get the best possible start to life.

So next time you’re talking to a pregnant woman — particularly one carrying multiples — resist the urge to discuss early labour, or to tell her to get ready now because “they could come any day”.

Instead, try something really radical and ask what will happen if she goes past her due date. That is something I’m happy to chat about with anyone.

This article was originally published on May 15, 2014

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