Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

9 Things You Should NEVER Say to a Pregnant Woman…and What to Say Instead!

(Picture from babygizmo.com)

(Picture from babygizmo.com)

To some, these may seem obvious…but after one completed pregnancy, and another almost 2/3 of the way through (not to mention plenty of friends that have been pregnant), I can assure you that these statements are in fact used on a regular basis.  I’ve heard all of them…more than once.  So if you encounter a mama-to-be on a regular basis (or just see one on the street), read on.  DISCLOSURE:  This post may very likely be wildly influenced by pregnancy hormones, so take it with a grain of salt 😉 

1.  “Are you sure there’s not more than one in there?”  Yes, while some get there sooner than others, we all get to a certain point where we are ridiculously big.  And yes, we are fully aware of it and probably self-conscious about it.  And no, we don’t  care for your sarcasm.  

2.  “You look tired/rundown/rough/etc.”  Didn’t your mother teach you – if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all?  This rule applies here.  Odds are good a pregnant woman is fully aware that she may not look her best, but she’s probably doing the best she can.  Unless you are a family member or very close friend that is asking primarily because you’d like to volunteer your help in some way, keep your mouth shut.

3.  “Was this baby planned or a surprise?”  None of your damn business.  Enough said?  Nosy speculations about fertility treatments also fall into this category.

4.  “Wow, you must have been hungry!”  This is usually uttered after a mom-to-be has gone back for seconds…or thirds…Don’t judge.  Pregnant women ARE hungry.  All. The.  Time.  It’s just a fact – even a sedentary mama-to-be will need an extra 300 calories per day during the second half of her pregnancy, and that number dramatically increases the more active she is.  No matter what size you were to begin with, facing 9 months of weight gain is difficult (both emotionally and physically).  Constant reminders that everyone around you is taking notes on your eating habits is unnecessary and rude.  

Photo Credit: http://www.etsy.com/listing/66647545/pregnant-woman-bingo-card

Photo Credit: http://www.etsy.com/listing/66647545/pregnant-woman-bingo-card

5.  “Let me touch that baby bump!”   This is usually an offending action rather than a statement (which means it  can happen without warning!!!)   Some people seem to think that personal space standards go out the window during pregnancy.  If you and I are not on a familiarity level that makes it okay for you to just reach out and touch my non-pregnant belly, nothing has changed.  Well, maybe it’s changed a little.  If a friend asks the pregnant me, I’ll probably let you, whereas the non-pregnant me would just give you a weird look and back away slowly.  From a complete stranger however?  Hands off!

6.  “Whatever you do, don’t name the baby _______________ .”  While others may choose differently, I for one, have always chosen not to share name selections until hubby and I are 150% sure on a name and ready to engrave it on a place setting.  Why don’t let you in on our top three choices?  Because we really don’t care what your opinion is.  If I’m waffling back and forth between Helga and Gertrude, the last thing I want you to do is to try and sway me one way or the other – and besides, how awkward would that be later if I ended up going with Gertrude after you adamantly announced you hated it?!?

7.  “Your going to _____________ (insert parenting advice here), right?!?”  While most advice is well-intentioned, assumptions about someone’s parenting style (especially someone who is getting ready to be a parent for the first time!) is inappropriate.  How you are going to raise your child involves a lot of big decisions – most of which do NOT need to be made when you’re 15 weeks pregnant.  Conversations with a mama-to-be should be flavored with encouragement and support, not judgments and assumptions.

8.  “Are you hoping it’s a ________________ (insert sex of your choice)?”  Newsflash – most of the moms I know are/were hoping for 10 fingers and 10 toes, and didn’t really care whether the room was painted pink or blue.  However, some moms (especially those that already have one or more of one gender), really do have their heart set on one particular sex.  In those cases I’m sure that by the time the baby comes, she will love it whether it’s a girl, boy, or a purple-polka dotted monster.  But in the months leading up to the big day, she may be working through some emotions that she’d rather not have awkwardly pointed out.

Pregnant Mama

Pregnancy is NOT always this sweet…but sometimes it is 🙂

9.  “Better enjoy ______________ (insert super awesome activity here) while you still can!”  Regardless of how you think the expectant couple will handle parenthood,  blanket, know-it-all statements about how their lifestyle will change is annoying for anyone to hear.  Especially when it’s not even always true.  Case in point – when I was pregnant with C, I was CONSTANTLY bombarded with statements about kissing our climbing days goodbye.  While our lifestyle no doubt changed dramatically, I think our family has proven that the addition of a baby doesn’t equal death to all adventure pursuits.  Ironically, I have yet to hear this statement even once with baby #2, although I’ve got my fake smile packaged and ready to go at a moment’s notice just in case.

Admittedly, there is some wiggle room with most of these statements…ie, I wouldn’t think my mom is rude for inquiring if I’m getting enough sleep, whereas the local grocery cashier would be out of line asking if I was “feeling tired today.”  Close friends and family have different boundaries, and “usually” know their limits (although don’t assume you have free reign to say what you want, because sometimes it’s those folks that are the biggest culprits!!!)  But if in doubt, don’t worry, there are a few things that are ALWAYS music to a pregnant woman’s ears, such as…

“You look fantastic!”  Because even if she isn’t one of the lucky ones that ONLY gains weight in the shape of an adorable bump, odds are good that she’s doing the best she can with the genetics God gave her.  Even if she doesn’t fit your definition of “fantastic,” she’s got a miracle growing inside of her, and that’s pretty darn fantastic, don’t ya think?

“How are you feeling?”  And say it like you really care about what the answer is.  Long before a woman starts to show, there’s a LOT going on on the inside.  Knowing someone cares enough to ask means a lot – and don’t worry, MOST women know how to temper their answer based on the audience (ie, while I might tell a close girlfriend about how things are starting to feel different “down there,”  it wouldn’t even cross my mind when the same girlfriend’s husband asks me the same question.)

“Do you need any help?”  It’s always appropriate to offer something nice.  Asking for help is not something every woman, pregnant or not, is comfortable doing, or even knows how to do.  Whether it’s helping to paint the baby’s room, wading through registry options, or even carrying a bag of groceries through the parking lot, a caring gesture will not go unappreciated.

 If you’ve been there, done that, can I get an Amen?  What other statements would you add to the either list?  

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24 Responses to “9 Things You Should NEVER Say to a Pregnant Woman…and What to Say Instead!”

  1. Can I ever relate to ALL of those! It makes me scratch my head the most when its women who have been pregnant who ask the questions. One of my other pet peeve questions is “how long did it take you to get pregnant”? There are very few people who have any business asking that!

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  2. AMEN! And YES, I am VERY tired. Why don’t you help?!?! 😉 he he.

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  3. Great list and explanations. Comments on my appearance baffle me (other than the “you look great,” which I’m always happy to hear). But the “you’re so tiny,” (I’ve gotten), or “you look ready to pop,” when they have a few months left (which I have friends that get that). How do you respond? Um… thanks for telling me I’m tiny, but now I’m worried my baby is too small – as if I don’t have enough to worry about. Grrr.

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  4. Patricia

    I tried to stay pretty fit through my pregnancy and I had some (previously pregnant) friends who would say to me, “you look great. I hate you!”. On the one hand I’m glad they’re being honest about their feelings but I hated that I felt bad for looking fit and healthy. @Amy, my bent stayed small too. It has nothing to do with baby size. My little girl was born a healthy 8 lbs.

    #9 is my most hated comment. I just try to remind myself life will be different but it doesn’t mean I won’t climb anymore. I now have a new climbing companion!

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  5. Patricia

    *Sorry bent=belly. (Oops auto correct)

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  6. Kaley

    I’m a busty girl to begin with but add a baby in the mix and I felt like a porn star. No one really said anything until a co-worker who I rarely spoke to and have NEVER been close to actually came up and cupped my breasts and exclaimed “I bet your husband loves this pregnancy gift”. I actually stopped going out in public toward the end of my pregnancy because so many people were begin so innocently rude 🙂

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  7. Laurissa

    Yes, and the questions about your due date… “I don’t think you will last THAT long”…. really, i know i am the size of a whale but please remind me again that i am 8mn pregnant and not due for another 4 weeks

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  8. Jenn T.

    These are spot-on friend! The gasps and looks I get when I tell people I’m due at the end of January are starting to get old. I know I *look* like I could give birth at any moment, but come on. Do these people really want me to sit them down and explain in detail all of the weight and health problems I had before this pregnancy, and how I already weighed more pre-pregnancy than I did with either of my first two at the end of those? Ironically enough, I have only gained 12 lbs this time, as opposed to the 50+ I gained with the first two. But please, keep reminding me! What I would really like to hear is, “Dang, your boobs are spectacular right now!” Ha ha

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  9. Jeline

    “You’re still climbing?!” *Cue disapproving look from non-climber questioner.

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  10. Audrey

    I got so annoyed with “go have fun now” before baby comes. Someone told me to go to Vegas or take a cruise… That sounds like a blast pregnant :: //
    Our top annoying one was “get as much sleep as you can now” as if you can bank it for later use. I also had trouble sleeping most of pregnancy and wish I could!!

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  11. Nicole

    My “favorite” is when someone points out my little guy or my 4 yo acting out and says “how are you going to do it with 3?!?” Right… like I clearly didn’t think of that already and am slightly terrified but you pointing it out makes me change my mind about going through with this or something . . .

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  12. Erica

    Sarah – Yes I am always the most appalled when it comes from other moms. And the “How long did it take” should be filed under “ALWAYS OFF LIMITS”…

    Amelia – 🙂

    Amy and Patricia – Yep I’ve definitely gotten my share of the “tiny” comments as well (more with my 1st than with this one however….stuff pops out fast the second time around!) Comments about size are a pet peeve of mine whether someone is pregnant or not. It’s like people assume that if they say you are “small” that they can say it however they want and it should be taken as a compliment rather than being inappropriate and forward. But you’re right – what do you say in response? It’s just awkward…

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  13. Erica

    Kaley – Omg THAT takes the prize for rudest possible comment ever. I cannot believe that actually happened to you. Geez. How on earth did you respond? A report of sexual harassment would not have been out of line in my opinion!

    Laurissa and Jenn – “I don’t think you will last THAT long” is a classic!!! It’s basically a passive aggressive way of saying – “I can’t believe you’re that gigantic!!!”

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  14. adam s

    Carly could probably make a pretty long “things a husband should never say to his pregnant wife list.” Material courtesy of me.

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  15. BethC

    I have to admit….I am guilty of #9 as it relates to sleeping in. I guess I’m just jealous since my girl is always up by 7 am! I try to restrain myself but sometimes it just comes out!

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  16. Ugh! My baby days are long behind me but yes, I got all of these in some form or another. I love the new suggestions… let’s do away with all the other inane & insensitive remarks. Sometimes I think people just can’t come up with anything better to say. I like congratulating the mom and wishing her well for all the fun days that lay ahead.

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  17. Erica

    Adam – That made me smile 🙂 Tell Carly you will improve with time (ie, Steve has gotten a lot less dirty looks this time around 😉

    Beth C – I know what you mean 🙂 I think it depends on the way it’s said as to how it’s received…at least that’s how it is for me anyway…

    Val – I think your’e right – people feel obligated to say something, and just end up putting their foot in their mouth. Most of the folks that said all these comments to me were very well-intentioned, they just didn’t think things through before opening their mouth.

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  18. Liz

    I’m with Val and your last comment, Erica. I feel like we should give people the benefit of the doubt. I think most people mean well and are happy for a pregnant lady and want to say something…it’s not always the exact thing we may want to hear. As someone who’s said plenty of socially awkward things, I can relate to dumb comments. 🙂

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  19. Dana

    This is so right Erica! I think one of the worst for me was the “Aren’t you hoping for a girl this time?” that I heard a thousand times with my second. Um, I’m sorry but if I did have those thoughts do you think I’m going to admit it and have my son find out in the future that I wanted him to be a girl (and that I might be disappointed with him). Equally bad is now asking me (in front of my boys), “Aren’t you going to try for a girl?” “Wouldn’t a girl be nice?” Just for the record I am perfectly happy with what I’ve got and would say the same no matter what.

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  20. Erica

    Liz – Definitely agreed.

    Dana – At least when people ask that now you have the opportunity to let them know (in front of your boys) just how happy you are with them!

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  21. Tali

    I’m just now in my 2nd trimester and doing really well. My doctor is pleased with my progress. I have only gained a 1lb so far but considering my pre-pregnancy BMI that is just right. I eat all the time and drink lots of water.

    The friend who was supposed to be my Maid of Honor at my upcoming wedding told me that I have an eating disorder. She lives in another state so has no clue about my eating habits or how I am glowing. She didn’t ask how I was feeling about body image or what my doctor said my weight gain should be. She just condescendingly told me I have an eating disorder and I need to change my behavior. I explained everything logically to her but she thinks she knows better than my doctor. Needless to say when she wouldn’t apologize I uninvited her to be my MoH.

    There are some things you can say to a pregnant woman that are thougthless and rude but in my opinion this was unforgiveable.

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  22. Sarah M.

    I was so offended when a woman at my climbing gym came up to me and asked if she could have any of my climbing pants that I figured I would never fit into again (after baby)!

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  23. Erica

    Tali – Congrats on a happy healthy pregnancy so far! Kudos to you for listening to your own body and your doctor for feedback rather than negative “friends.” I don’t know the details of the situation, but it certainly seems like your friend was out of line and has a misconception that eating disorders are solely based on the number on the scale rather than body image, self-esteem, and eating habits. Every woman is different and gains a different amount at a different rate – sounds like you are right on target!

    Sarah M. – That’s horrible! You should do the same to her in a few weeks (after the holiday pounds…) Just kidding, two wrongs don’t make a right. But her statement is beyond rude, it’s hard to believe anyone would actually say that!!!

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  24. Great list, Erica! The worst for me was having women tell me their HORROR stories about labour and delivery. Like that helped! My own experience may have been a horrible one for some women, but I did just fine and felt it was a beautiful, empowering experience. It’s all about interpretation!

    Reply

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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN