Having a baby is certainly a joyous (though laborious and stressful) time for a woman. She’s processing a myriad of emotions and physical changes all at once, and whether it’s her first time or an encore pregnancy, there’s one thing she surely doesn’t need—your unwelcome comments about her blessed event.
So, we’re going to save you from a black eye and give you a few phrases and comments you should definitely avoid when encountering an expectant mother—they already have it hard enough.
1. Was it planned? That’s a comment that’s sure to take the wind out of the sails of any conversation. You just shouldn’t ever say it. It’s inappropriate and irrelevant at this point, and, oh by the way, none of you business. Whether it was planned or not, looks like they are getting ready for motherhood and that’s the part that should be acknowledged and recognized. Besides, isn’t spontaneity the spice of life?
2. Can I touch your belly? This is totally invasive. Unless you are a close (and we mean close) member of the mother-to-be, avoid infringing on her personal space. Her belly is a no-fly, no-touch zone. Would you want someone to touch your belly after a particularly large burrito just filled it? And, just to say we said it … definitely don’t touch a pregnant woman here:
3. Are you sure you’re not having twins? Through the sheer miracle of modern technology, she probably already knows whether she’s having twins by now. So, this unnecessary comment is directed at nothing more than the mom-to-be’s expanding waistline, which she need not be reminded of. “You are huge” would also qualify. Way to go “innocent” bystander.
4. I think you’re having a…. Puh-leaze. Unless you’ve got a fancy medical school graduate diploma hanging in your exam room, you’re simply not qualified to make this statement. A lot of people know “hacks” to determining the baby’s sex without the help of medical technology, but if the parent doesn’t want to know then leave your hearsay out of it.
5. You’re really carrying (position): Choices include low, high, wide, out front, etc. If someone says this to a pregnant woman, there’s undebatable grounds to throw it right back at the commentator—that beer belly is really carrying low today . . . right? Or, for another great comeback—take a cue from Mollie in Look Who’s Talking “Why don’t you try squeezing something the size of a watermelon out of an opening the size of a lemon and see how hot YOU look?”
6. At your age? Besides her waistline, the other thing a woman doesn’t particularly care to hear about is her age. When she decides to have a child is totally her business. And, these days older parents are the norm. It provides more stability and career establishment.
7. You really shouldn’t… Bend over. Pick that up. Reach for this. Pretty much do anything that requires any movement. What do they expect you to do, just dock yourself at the pier like some huge cargo ship, and stay moored until you finally
offload er, deliver? Popsugar says “pregnant women are not ill, they are merely with child, and making them feel like they have a serious condition only alienates them.” Agreed! Pregnant women are going to give birth to that baby and that’s a lot more than you’ll be doing anytime soon.
8. I was in labor for (X number of hours) Especially for first-time moms, the labor process looms in the nine-month (ten-month …) distance like some medieval torture session. And, it doesn’t help to tell your (and all your friends’) horror stories about the labor. This does nothing to boost the confidence of a woman who could probably use all she can get.
Disclaimer: These next two are the worst. If you say these to an expectant mother, you should be wearing body armor or a HAZMAT suit. Since we are duly warning you, don’t come back at us looking for sympathy when she shreds you to pieces.
9. Do you know who the father is? This is implying that she gets around and that’s just, uh, rude. And, if you need some more helpful hints about how to talk to pregnant women, Garfunkel and Oates can surely help. They wrote a whole song about pregnancy—and it’s not quite what you think. Sorry pregnant women, this song is just too good not to share.
Ok, back to the things not to say!
10. Are you going to keep it? Maybe the single most insensitive, insulting thing you could ever ask a woman who is pregnant. A poster on Babble.com related she had this very thing happen to her: “When I told my boss I was pregnant (with my first child), the first thing he said was: ‘Are you going to keep it?'” Hello, human resources? Can I stop by when you get a sec? Won’t take long, promise.
And, a final warning for all you out there who just can’t read a room—never ask a woman in general if she’s pregnant … just don’t do it. You don’t need to know that bad. And, ladies, if you really hate that question and want to avoid it altogether, try one of these blunt, blatant, wearable messaging tactics (that really just show your wonderful wit too.)