If I had been cool enough to know what “SMH” meant when I was pregnant, it may have accompanied 99% of the text messages I sent as I shared the latest unfathomable observations made about my appearance . . . by total strangers. Over the course of my nine-month adventure to motherhood, I found myself frequently “Shaking My Head” at the things that actually spilled forth when people opened their mouths to speak to me.
Before I share a few things that you should never say to a pregnant woman, I want to say that I so enjoyed having an easy lead in for conversations while I was pregnant! It is rare in life to have so many people who have such a strong desire to talk to you. However, teasing, prying, and criticism can quickly dash all of that joy.
Let’s be real, the majority of comments pregnant women hear involve their size, big or small. So, before I give you some REAL LIFE examples of things I and my fellow contributors heard, just make life easier for everyone and refrain from ever commenting on a pregnant woman’s size again . . . ever. This includes comments like:
- “You look like you’re about to pop!”
- “Any day now, right?”
- “Is it twins?” This is 1,000x worse if you follow up with “Are you sure?”
- “Are you sure you’re pregnant?”
- “You don’t look pregnant.”
- “Wide load coming through!”
- “How much weight have you gained?”
For me personally, things got a little out of hand. During my seventh month, I stopped at a gas station after my baby shower. While I was filling up my car, I was approached by a total stranger. Her first comment to me was, “It’s a girl, isn’t it?” “No ma’am, I’m having a boy,” I replied looking down at my entirely blue ensemble. “You really look like you are having a girl. But, you’re due any day now, right?” Growing impatient, I responded, “No ma’am, I have another two months to go.” She shrugged her shoulders and ended the conversation with, “Oh well, bigger is better. You know what I mean?” and walked away. SHE WALKED AWAY AFTER SAYING, “BIGGER IS BETTER.” I stood there with my mouth hanging open for what felt like an eternity before I composed myself and drove away. (Total Stranger, if you’re reading this, no. I still do not know what you mean!)
Pregnant women struggle with their appearance. They may desperately want to look pregnant but their bump just isn’t showing; or, like me, they may feel like they are the size of a Mack truck. Either way, the best comment you can make regarding an expecting mom’s physique is, “You look beautiful.”
Think Before You Ask
It is certainly acceptable to ask a mother if she is having a boy or a girl. But, the way you respond to her answer can be very hurtful. Asking, “Is that what you wanted?” is never a good idea. Maybe the mom you are speaking with is struggling with the fact that she desperately wanted a son but will have a daughter. Maybe she is just thrilled to know her baby’s gender because she has had complications in the past. Or, maybe you are talking to a mom who has chosen to discover her baby’s gender at the birth. If that is the case, never ever ever question her decision. Frankly, it is just none of your business.
Additionally, avoid asking if or when she will have more children. Pregnancy is HARD. It is not the time for us to think about our next child/pregnancy, nor is it the time for you to ask about it.
And, for the love, do not ask her if she was trying to get pregnant! Again, it is none of your business.
Don’t Share Every Opinion
Outside of life threatening decisions, you should never comment on a pregnant woman’s choices. What she wears is her business, especially if it’s ten million degrees outside (we do live in Alabama, after all). What she eats is her business. If she wants the extra-large fries with her meal, don’t judge. Some moms exercise throughout their pregnancy (not me), and some lie on the couch (totally me). Either way, be encouraging. Avoid comments like:
- “We didn’t wear clothes like that when I was pregnant.”
- “Baby weight is easy to gain and hard to lose.”
- “That much caffeine can’t be good for the baby.”
- “You should stop running. That can’t be good for the baby.”
- “You know, some women DO work out while they are pregnant.”
If You Can’t Say Anything Nice . . .
So, this all boils down to an old saying: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Pregnancy is an extremely vulnerable stage of life. You may think your joke about her being a “beached whale” is funny, but to her it’s not funny (and she has probably already heard it 1,582,763,402.99 times . . . that day). You may be genuinely curious about her pregnancy story. But, try not to pry. You may think that your advice is the most helpful information she will ever receive, and maybe it is good information. But a good rule of thumb is, if you do not know her name, it is not your place to give her advice (or touch her belly).
I absolutely loved the opportunity to talk with people while I was pregnant. It was an easy conversation starter. But, I will enjoy it even more next time if I hear these comments less frequently.