Having a baby may be the most exciting event in a woman’s life, but it also marks a time in her life when other people’s social boundaries dissolve and conversational decorum flies out of the window. Family, friends, and even (or rather especially) strangers engage in an odd behavior of verbal diarrhoea, a barrage of questions, comments and friendly advice that all too often misses the mark in kindness and helpfulness. What may be intended as a compliment or helpful advice all too often sounds nosey, or worse, an insult. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and pregnancy is no exception.
So here are some things you should never say to a pregnant woman:
1. “You don’t look pregnant.”
Now, I’m sure that the man who said this to me on the elevator meant to flatter me. But, I’m almost 23 weeks into my pregnancy and I have a solid bump on my belly. I’m proud to have my baby bump, but with one swift comment from a stranger, I suddenly began to feel self-conscious about wearing a tight shirt over my bulging belly. Perhaps he thought he was being kind, or maybe he genuinely thought that I didn’t look pregnant. Either way, I was left feeling like I look like I’ve eaten a box of Girl Scout’s cookies, or sat on the couch for five years. No matter the size of our baby bumps, we’re proud to carry our little ones.
2. “You shouldn’t be eating that (insert various food items).”
Ok, sure. This would be a really valid statement if I were eating sushi and rare steak, stuffing my face with tons of junk food, or drinking a glass of wine. But if I decide to give into my cravings and have one cup of instant spicy Shin noodles loaded with an entire day’s worth of sodium, by all means I’m going to eat that cup of noodles. Period. The end.
3. “You need to eat for two.”
Yes, nutrition is super important during pregnancy, and making sure your baby gets enough energy to grow tops the list of to-do’s. However, I don’t need to stuff my face full of food in order to provide my growing baby with proper nutrition. In the first trimester, you only need about 100 extra calories a day in order to support your growing fetus, and by the third trimester that daily caloric intake increases to roughly 300 calories. That’s the equivalent of a small snack. So no, I do not need to eat those extra slices of pizza or indulge every night in an ice cream sundae. I’ll eat when I’m hungry, and I will stop when I’m full.
4. “Can I touch your belly?”
Not one of my favorite questions from acquaintances and strangers. Or worse yet, having someone touch my belly without asking. I know that it is really exciting to see a big pregnant belly, and we all want to share in the joy of pregnancy. But for the love of God, please do not touch my belly without my permission. After all, you’re not actually touching the baby, you’re fondling my expanding ab muscles and growing belly fat. Remind me to touch your belly the next time you have a big meal and have a food baby inside you. You won’t enjoy it, I promise. If I offer you to touch my belly, by all means rub it to your heart’s content. But please let me prompt you to touch me.
5. “You have gained so much weight.”
Just don’t. Ever.
6. “Why don’t you have any morning sickness?” Or, “Why are you always sick?”
We may think that all pregnancies are created equally, but I assure you, no two pregnancies are alike. While I sailed through my first trimester with the occasional nausea in the evening, my friend experienced non-stop vomiting for three months straight. Now, she’s cruising easy in her second trimester while I’m suffering from leg cramps and never-ending heartburn. So please don’t question why we are feeling the way we’re feeling. Just ask us how we’re doing today, and give us a nice smile.
7. “Let me help you with (insert an easy task).”
While we appreciate that so many people, from family to strangers, jump at the chance to help a pregnant lady (and really, we do appreciate it!), please wait to until you’re asked to help with an easy task. What do I mean by an easy task? Walking down the sidewalk, reaching for a pencil to jot something down, opening a door, carrying something light. We appreciate your sentiment and kindness; but the constant help makes us feel, well, like you view us as helpless creatures. Help us with things that are difficult for us to do, like carrying heavy items, flipping loads of laundry, and packing groceries. We’ll likely ask you for help when we truly can’t do something for ourselves.
8. “I had a terrible experience with giving birth and having an epidural. But don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”
Please keep your horror stories to yourself. We’re nervous enough about giving birth to a watermelon. Adding to our anxiety is not helpful. If you have a great inspirational story, please share it. Otherwise just give us a nice word of encouragement, like “You’re going to be ok.”
9. “Have you picked a name yet?” Or, “Really, that’s the name you picked?”
This is a question we get asked non-stop every day. Its nice that people are so curious and invested in the name of our future child, but for some parents this is a very private matter. I’m also not likely to share the name(s) I’ve picked out for my baby just in case you react negatively to it. A better way to ask this question is “Have you thought about names yet?”. Give it a try next time, and you might get a friendlier answer.
10. “Really? Cloth diapers, natural birth, breastfeeding, and hypnobirthing? Just stick with Huggies, formula, and a c-section.”
To the lady at the store who felt the need to tell me that I should just use disposable diapers when I asked if the store carried cloth diapers: Thank you for your unsolicited advice. But next time, keep it to yourself please. I’m not interested in your opinion, I’m interested in whether your store carries cloth diapers. Refraining from unsolicited advice also applies to family and friends too. Its not that I don’t appreciate how much you care about helping guide me through the journey of motherhood (because it really means a lot to me that you care so much about my wellbeing and the future of my child), but please allow me to ask for your advice on a subject first without passing judgement on the choices I’m considering making.
11. “You will have a girl because your skin isn’t clear.” Or, “You’ll definitely be having a boy because your belly is hanging low.”
Funny? Yes. Insulting? Maybe…. especially if you’re referring to the sudden onset of acne due to my pregnancy. Any truth to it? Not even a little bit. There’s no scientific basis for these old wive’s tales.
12. “It all gets worse from here.”
Well, there goes the positivity right out of the window. I’d rather focus on all of the wonderful things that will be happening rather than the future sleepless nights, poopy diapers, and baby vomit. It is better to be happily optimistic rather than woefully negative.
13. “Do you know if you’re having a girl or a boy?”
This is a very sweet question that we’re happy to answer, until its the 20th time we’ve been asked that in one day. But don’t worry, we won’t get upset if you ask this a million more times. Just bear with us if we’re feeling a bit moody after a long day!
14. “Are you pregnant?”
Whatever you do, please do NOT ask this question. I repeat, DO NOT ask this question. Why? Well, we probably are pregnant. But if we’re carrying a food baby rather than a real baby, you won’t be the only one whose face is on fire due to deadly embarrassment.
Are there any other things that you think should never be said to a pregnant woman? Share your thoughts below!
Life is short, share in the adventure.