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.
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.
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?