At some point in her pregnancy, almost every woman has had a cringe-worthy moment. Maybe a stranger makes an offensive comment in passing. The partner might be an innocent perpetrator of one of these statements. But whether you’re friends with someone who is pregnant, married to a pregnant woman, or just your average person on the street, here are ten of the worst things you can say to a pregnant woman:
- When are you due? March? Never guess when a woman is due. We are not at the fair. You are not the creepy guy who guesses people’s weights or birthdays. If you know the person, asking her due date is perfectly fine. Go with “When are you due?” Full stop.
- You look like you’re about to pop! Pregnant women are not balloons, and ideally nothing should be “popping.” Also, nobody wants to be told that they look so large they might burst.
- Finally! Even if you know that this couple has been trying to get pregnant for a while, do not say anything along the lines of “It’s about time.” Maybe it’s an unexpected surprise. Maybe they had to go through several rounds of IVF. About 12% of women have trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. Because you likely don’t know everything about their journey, the only appropriate response to a pregnancy announcement is “Congratulations!”
- Any story about painful or difficult labor and delivery. No pregnant woman wants to hear a horror story about giving birth, especially if she’s a first-time mother and doesn’t know what to expect. While it’s true that anything can happen, don’t freak the poor woman out with the excruciating details of your traumatic experience.
- Any story about how easy it is to be pregnant and/or give birth. The last thing a pregnant woman who is struggling with morning sickness, swollen ankles, or any of the other less glamorous aspects of pregnancy wants to hear about is what a breeze it was for you. You never vomited once? Your baby just slid out? Good for you, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. When one woman chirped to me that labor was “easy peasy!” I had serious trouble keeping a smile on my face.
- Any story that ends in death. When I was pregnant, I was shocked at the number of people who would tell me stories that ended in some kind of tragedy. I didn’t want to hear about a baby born with the cord wrapped around his neck, or a miscarriage at 20 weeks, or a crib death. That was pretty much the last thing I needed as a stressed pregnant lady.
- I bet you’re hoping for a boy/girl! Gender disappointment happens, but you don’t have to draw attention to it. Also, you might be wrong. I know a mother who had three boys, and when she was pregnant with her fourth son everyone assumed she was disappointed. In reality, she loved being a “boy mom” and was perfectly happy with another son. Instead of making assumptions, ask questions.
- Any comment that involves how the baby got there. Don’t high-five the husband. Don’t congratulate him on “getting the job done.” Don’t ask if it happened ‘naturally.’ When I was pregnant, one friend told me that she’d heard that if the woman orgasmed during conception it was a boy, and if she didn’t it would be a girl. (I was pregnant with a boy) Then she asked if I thought this was true. How was I supposed to answer that?!
- Are you sure it’s not twins? Just don’t.
- You really should/shouldn’t ______. Everyone has an opinion, and for some reason a baby bump is like a sign that says, “Please talk to me, total stranger!” It’s ironic because I’m far more rational when the hormones aren’t flying. While pregnant, though, a judgmental comment from a stranger could cause me to burst into tears or fly off the handle. Besides, most pregnant women already know what they should or shouldn’t be doing – they don’t need you to tell them.
We left some of the more obvious statements off the list – don’t ask who the father is, don’t ask if it was an accident, and definitely don’t ask if she’s planning on keeping it. Instead of any of the aforementioned comments, try one of these:
- You look great!
Stick with one or both of these, and you’ll be in the clear.