My husband came home from work the other day visibly upset. When I asked him what was going on, this is what he told me.
At the end of his work day, he packed up his stuff and was heading out the door toward the parking lot. He spotted a few of his coworkers smoking cigarettes in their building’s designated smoking area outside. Within the small cluster of coworkers he spotted one coworker in particular. When she saw him she quickly tried to hide her cigarette. Ok, what’s the big deal, you might ask? Well, the big deal is that she is four months pregnant.
L said that he gave her a confused look, got in his car, and left. Days have gone by, and he’s still wondering if he should say something to her. But see, this isn’t even the first time that there has been a question about her pregnant behavior. At a company function earlier this year, several coworkers spotted her drinking a beer. When L told me about this I told him that it was none of our business. It’s her body, and her baby.
However, after this second incident I’m not so sure. She obviously knew that she was doing something “wrong” because she tried to hide the cigarette when she saw my husband. And what was absurd to me is that other coworkers were lighting up with her. Did they not feel an obligation to say something? But then maybe they did say something, and she ignored them?
Where do you draw the imaginary line between what is private and public business? Do you have an obligation (for the sake of the unborn child) to speak up?
It’s like if you see a parent in public hitting their child. Do you step in and say something because kids are young and can’t defend themselves? Or do you assume that it’s not your business how a person disciplines their kid?
L’s coworker chose to smoke cigarettes out in public. If she were my coworker, I think I might pull her aside privately and say something. But then again, it might depend on how well I knew her. It’s a tough one.What would you do?

February 7, 2010
February 10, 2010



  1. Reply


    February 10, 2010

    As much as it sucks that she is doing this, I think it's one of those things I'd give side-eye to but never approach her about. Just seems like it's not my business. πŸ™

  2. Reply


    February 10, 2010

    She sounds Hella stupid but it's none of his business. I wouldn't appreciate someone judging my actions while I'm pregnant and I definitely wouldn't appreciate someone commenting on how I discipline my child. I definitely think he should stay out of it. It's sad though

  3. Reply


    February 10, 2010

    My first instinct is to stay out of it b/c she is an adult…so it's her pregnancy and her business.

    Like others said, I would not appreciate sometime telling me what I should and shouldn't be doing while I'm pregnant…BUT if I was doing something that I didn't know was harmful, I would certainly want someone to tell me.

    For example, I've read that eating lots of canned tuna is not good while you're pregnant…I can see a situaton where someone didn't know that and ate tuna for lunch everyday at work. I might mention to that person (in the nicest and most nonjudgmental way possible) that I've read that lots of canned tuna is not best for the baby…just in case they didn't know.

    It's a little different with L's coworker b/c it's common knowledge that smoking is harmful while pregnant. But something about how obviously dangerous her behavior is makes me want to scream at her "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!" Now I'm thinking what I would do if I saw her drinking the beer…I think I might slap it out of her hand and ask if she's a complete moron. This is a difficult situation. It makes me think she some psycho who wants to harm her baby…

    Sorry I'm no help, but those are my random thoughts.

  4. Reply


    February 10, 2010

    Would not say a thing. There are a billion things you're not supposed to do when you're pregnant, and I'll be sure to break many of those rules—not because I don't care about the health of my child, but because there are literally ONE BILLION RULES.

    Smoking is terrible, and she should feel bad (she does). But it's not Lawrence's place to really say anything.

    Elizabeth Hasselbeck (not a fan) was saying how when she was pregnant, she'd go get coffee every so often when she was particulary feeling like she was going to die of exhaustion and she knew she had to work a long day. She went up to ask for coffee and the guy took a look at her and turned to the barista and signaled to give her "THIS MUCH" milk and a tiny bit of coffee. What a dick. She was mad and I feel for her. She made a concious decision as an adult to have a cup of coffee—and that's her choice. I liken this to the same thing. Is it yucky and awful, yes. But she is an adult and she's made her choice.

  5. Reply


    February 10, 2010

    This is an interesting discussion. I know L only wonders if he should say anything to her out of concern for her. He isn't trying to be an ass. But then again, like I mentioned, it's her body and her baby. For the most part, he has let go of his urge to talk to her. I think he knows it's not his place, but it's hard not to think, "WTF is she doing?!" I should've mentioned that they are friends. Not best friends, but closer than the average coworkers. It's not like a stranger placing judgment on a stranger's life.

  6. Reply


    February 10, 2010

    AND…sorry, forgot to mention…THANK YOU for all the feedback! Always appreciate your opinions, of course.

  7. Reply


    February 10, 2010

    Hmm … good question. If L considers her a friend, he should say something. By her behaviour, she knew it was wrong. If he knows her well, he should lightly mention the seriousness of a healthy pregnancy.

    If he doesn't want to say anything, he could find some public health literature on her desk about a healthy pregnancy (i.e. no drinking) when she's not there. While smoking is not good for a fetus (restricted blood supply, lower birth rate, etc), alcohol consumption is potentially far worse than smoking.

    (Do you have public health units? If you don't know what they are, you probably don't. If you want, I can send you a brochure about healthy pregnancies. Drop me a line!)

  8. Reply


    February 10, 2010

    Oh, to Cathleya: up to one cup of standard caffination coffee is considered safe during pregnancy by most doctors. There are "rules" when pregnant (cut back on coffee if you drink lots of it, sleep well, avoid certain types of fish, etc), and there are RULES that you really SHOULD follow. Those things you SHOULD do: avoid alcohol, have a pre-natal vitamin.

  9. Reply

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

    February 10, 2010

    Hmm, hard if they're friends and not just coworkers. Yeah, it is her body and baby. But if it happens again when she's further along, I'd risk seeming like an intrusive jerk because that's pushing it a bit too much.

  10. Reply


    February 10, 2010

    If it was my close friend, I would say something. Close acquaintance at work? Most likely not. I generally try to stay out of people's private lives at work, except for my closest friend there who I just continue to blab to and would definitely talk to if she was lighting up and pregnant.
    It's really sad, but I say leave it to her close friends and family members to tell her what's up. Also, it might start to get weird at work if she is offended.

  11. Reply

    Cheap Wife

    February 10, 2010

    These people are all a lot better than me. I don't know if I would really say something….but I would be so tempted.
    There are things were I feel like "they are an adult, it is their buisness" but that stops when it involves children or animals. They don't have a choice about what that adult is doing and it really bothers me.

  12. Reply

    Wifey Wiferson

    February 10, 2010

    I think any pregnant woman has heard it all already about what she is supposed to avoid while pregnant. The sad fact is (I have done a lot of work with pregnant women), it is very difficult for smokers to quit just because they are pregnant. Just ask any long time smoker, if you found out one day that you would have to drop the habit right away for almost a year, could you do it? There are still tons of women who smoke and continue to do so while pregnant, most are able to cut down a lot, but few are able to quit cold turkey right away. I wouldn't say anything because I am sure she has been told a million times. If I were to say anything at all, it would be along the lines of "It sure is hard to quit smoking, isn't it? My friend/sister/aunt had a heck of a time cutting down while she was pregnant. She ended up going to a quiting program just for pregnant women that helped a lot, would you like the contact info?"

  13. Reply


    February 10, 2010

    Not that I'm a fan of going against doctor's orders, but there were a LOT of normal kids born in, say, the 70's where women smoked, drank, and ate seafood their their entire pregnancies. Now, I agree that smoking should be avoided. Excessive alcohol should also be avoided. I'm not a fan of canned meat anyway, so I avoid that on a daily basis. lol

    But that said, I agree with Wifey. She's probably heard it, and is obviously ashamed of the habit, and an encouraging approach may be more reaching than a stern "You know that's bad for the baby, right?"

    I once looked at a woman who was OBVIOUSLY pregnant at a fine dining establishment, and she was having a very small serving of wine. At first, I gasped and couldn't believe they were serving her wine! Then I relaxed and realized that it's suggested to stay away from alcohol because many Americans don't understand "moderation". French women drink wine DAILY in small amounts and obviously the french have managed to reproduce in healthy numbers. Same thing goes for seafood- Japanese women eat fish all the time while pregnant, and they've managed to have keep the species alive and well. πŸ˜‰

    While I'm more a fan of playing it safe than playing the odds, this gal is banking on the odds that: a) she can't quit, and b)maybe the baby won't REALLY have a problem.

  14. Reply


    February 10, 2010

    Just a little history –
    I was born to a 15 year old, who had ZERO prenatal care, and didn't even tell anyone she was pregnant until she was 8 months along. I have every confidence that she probably did just about everything a teenager in the 80's could do to get rid of being pregnant.

    Other than requiring recessitation as a baby, I have been healthy as a horse in that respect.

    I guess my bio-mom played the odds – and thankfully, I won! πŸ™‚

  15. Reply


    February 12, 2010

    I think that Wifey (above) has some great advice! If he tells her that he saw her smoking and he thinks she shouldn't be, that will only make her feel guilty and judged, but if he offers understanding and potential help (if she wants it), then he is acting as her friend. Obviously she knows she shouldn't be smoking and didn't want to be seen doing it, and it is a very hard addiction to quit. Also, I remember being pregnant (just last year) and I got SO MAD when a cashier gave me a lecture about how I shouldn't be eating hot dogs while pregnant. It's hard enough having strangers at the store judging you for your choices without your friends jumping on in too. To me, there is a big difference between a pregnant mom smoking and a parent hitting their child. As a mandatory reporter, I would alwyas report abuse, but smoking is just a bad health choice, not abuse. Also, like others have said, it's actually OK to have alcohol in small amounts while pregnant, and I'm sure many of our mothers (or grandmothers) smoked while pregnant and we made it! My main point is, if she already knows it's wrong, criticizing her won't help her, but perhaps an offer of resources for quitting will.

  16. Reply


    February 12, 2010

    The purpose of this post was out of concern for my husband's coworker, not to be judgmental or critical or make her feel bad. I would hope that IF my husband were to talk to her he would have enough good sense to not be condescending or critical or even annoying toward her. Perhaps he would direct her toward resources for quitting? That sounds like a great, proactive approach to me.

    I have never been pregnant. One day when/if I am, I probably won't want people telling me what to do or how to do it. But if I were doing something in mixed company that wasn't healthy for me or my future baby, and someone (not a stranger) came to me with concern, I would hope that I wouldn't be mad at them for caring. Again, I HOPE. I don't know because I have never been there.

    I'm sure everyone knows an individual story of a successful pregnancy despite alcohol consumption (more than an occasional glass of wine) or cigarette smoking, but on the whole, it's harmful behavior. We know so much more today than in previous generations, and it is a risk.