What Not To Say to a Pregnant Woman

There are just certain things a pregnant woman doesn't want to hear - here is a list of what not to say to a pregnant woman!

I don’t know what it is about pregnant women that makes people think it’s appropriate to make whatever comments, ask whatever questions, and offer up whatever advice they want, whenever they want…but it seems to be very common! During both of my pregnancies, I haven’t gotten a ton of weird comments, but I know plenty of people who have.

When I was about 32 weeks pregnant with Jack, the subject of my pregnancy came up at work. Someone looked totally surprised and blurted out, “You are pregnant? I thought you were just bloated.” To this day, I think about this comment and try to figure out how I should take that. It kind of makes me laugh, and whenever I mention it to anyone, they laugh too. But when I was pregnant, I felt so big at 32 weeks (even though I was smaller than most at 32 weeks), and I was convinced that I must have just looked like that when I wasn’t pregnant either!

Most comments that people make aren’t meant to be mean-willed. In general, I think people just should try not to get offended. However, pregnancy is a whole other ballpark. Pregnant moms are going through so many changes and have so many hormones rushing through their bodies…even the smallest remark can be frustrating (or tear-inducing!) So here are a couple of different things you shouldn’t say to a pregnant women (or topics you should venture into.) I’ve asked some of my blogging friends for comments people have made to them, and you’ll see those throughout this post, as well as a few of my own experiences. I’d love to hear some of the weird things people said to you!

What Not To Say to a Pregnant Woman

1) Possibility of Pregnancy

Okay, this is just something you should consider before you say anything to someone who may be pregnant – are they actually pregnant? There may be a case where you are 100% positive someone is pregnant, and they really aren’t. And let me tell you, asking someone if they are pregnant who isn’t…is not a good situation to be in! Forrest sometimes talks about this time when he was convinced someone was pregnant, and he asked her how far along she was. Well, she wasn’t pregnant (though he still thinks she was, and just wanted to make him feel bad for asking without knowing.) Either way, unless you have knowledge that someone is pregnant…don’t ask!

2) Size

This is where most people get comments – myself included. You may feel like someone shouldn’t feel self-conscious about their size during pregnant, but most women are. Whether they feel they are getting too big or they haven’t gotten big enough, this is dangerous territory to roam in.

Some examples of size comments you should avoid?

  • Wow, are you sure you aren’t having twins (or triplets, etc.)
  • Are you eating enough food?
  • You don’t look pregnant enough. Are you sure you are pregnant?
  • Now remember, you don’t actually have to eat for two!
  • You must be due any day!

I was never as big as you. You must have huge babies.” – The Pleasantest Thing

I was 16 weeks pregnant with my daughter and had to attend a wedding out of town. One of the other friends of the bride who had never met me, asked how far along I was. When I told her I was 16 weeks she exclaimed very loudly “Oh my gosh,I was 16 weeks pregnant with my daughter and had to attend a wedding out of town. One of the other friends of the bride who had never met me, asked how far along I was. When I told her I was 16 weeks she exclaimed very loudly “Oh my gosh, you must be having twins!” When I politely told her that nope, it was just one baby, she told me I really needed to go back to the doctor and have them check again. – Sunshine and Hurricanes

I can’t even tell you’re pregnant, you’re so tiny. I hate you. – Arts Crackers

I also don’t appreciate it when people say “you’re bigger than my sister/next door neighbour/cousin”
I carry big babies. It does not require comment. –The Train Driver’s Wife

I’m 4’9″ and my husband is 6′. She told me we look like the number 10. – The Positive Mom

So many people commented …and still do this time around…about how I don’t look pregnant “enough.” I try to take it as a compliment but it bugs me every time! -Line Upon Line Learning

2) Give Warnings

This is something I couldn’t stand during my pregnancy with Jack (or now, in regards to teenage years, etc.) People would say things like, “Just you wait until the baby comes. Then you try to do anything!” or “You’ll never sleep again once that baby comes. Enjoy it while you last!” I’m sure most of these “warnings” come from the goodness of people’s hearts, but for someone who was struggling with depression during pregnancy especially, they weren’t very helpful. I think it’s better to be encouraging. While I don’t think parenthood should be sugar coated – it is hard – I think the majority of pregnant women understand that, and it may be more helpful to over encouraging words of the joy that is to come, rather than the impending doom of never sleeping again or your marriage never being the same.

Just wait, you won’t get any sleep once the baby arrives.” We all know it’s true, but who wants to hear that over and over again. – Mama’s Happy Hive

3) Number of children

People have a wide range of children – and that is totally up to them. Some people may want 10, others may just want one. It is not up to you to pass judgement on that, and it’s not something you should comment on. You never know why people have the number of children they do. Commenting on it during pregnancy is especially inappropriate. The most common comments I have heard of from friends and family is criticism on the decision to have more than two children. Yes, it’s becoming less and less common to have a large family, but kudos to those who want to have a bunch of kids! I have heard some very rude comments in this respect (including things like, “Have you heard of birth control?” or, even worse, “Is abortion an option?”) I believe every child is a blessing, and I’d imagine most parents feel that way about the number of children they have. So commenting on if they have way too many or way too little is just dumb. It’s not like your comment while they are pregnant is going to have them give up their baby (or decide to have even more!)

Since we announced we were pregnant now with our 3rd, I have been so dismayed by people’s reactions. Basically, from your wedding day, people are all over you about when you will have kids. Then from the day your first is born, they want to know when you will have a second. When you tell them you are having a 3rd, you get a range of negative replies from “Woah, you guys are nuts!” to (from my MIL repeatedly) “Your life is going to be just awful” and from friends “I hope you are going to get some help – you’re really going to need it!” Ugh! – Playground Parkbench

Kalista Sabourin When I announced my fourth, my brother said “don’t you have enough already?” – When We’re at Home

4) Gender

If people tell you whether they are having a boy or a girl, just be happy that they wanted to share that with you! To say things like, “Don’t you wish it was a boy/girl?” or “Well, there’s always next time!” or even stating that they probably are actually having the actual gender can be annoying. I know plenty of people who have several children of the same gender, and they wouldn’t change it for everything. But when people say things about how they are missing out not having both, or that they should just “try again next time”, it can make them annoyed, or feel bad. There are even people who may have been wishing for a boy or a girl, and they found out they had the opposite, so comments like this may insight the water works!

When pregnant with my first, a cashier at a coffee shop swore up and down that I was having a boy by the way I was carrying. Even after I told her we knew it was a girl, she insisted, “Your doctor doesn’t know what they are talking about – you really should get a second opinion! And make sure you save all your receipts to return all the pink stuff. – Playground Park Bench

Oh, you’re having another boy? Are you going to try for a girl? – Arts and Crackers

I get really upset by people who say “I hope it’s a girl.” As if my life will be incomplete if I don’t have one of each. – The Train Driver’s Wife

When I would meet complete strangers they would ask if it was a boy or a girl. We told them we were going to be surprised. Most of the time they (male or female) would then look me up and down and give their evaluation. I would always say, “Well you…“Well you have got a 50% chance of being right.” And then to myself think, “Do you want me to get your email address, so I can let you know if you were wrong, Complete Stranger?” Simple. Home.

5) Pregnancy Stereotypes

You may see a pregnant women eating ice cream, or pickles (or both together.) While it might make you laugh, saying something like, “Well aren’t you a typical pregnant woman?” may or may not make the pregnant person laugh. There are plenty of pregnancy stereotypes, and while I think most of us pregnant ladies can admit to perpetuating one…we don’t always want to hear others have noticed it as well!

When I was about 8 months pregnant, I had to run in to the grocery store to pick up ice cream for a social event. I didn’t have a cart and needed to get something out of my purse so I balanced the tub of ice cream on my very large belly. A man looked and me and said “Well if that ain’t classic on so many levels.” – My Mundane and Miraculous Life

6) Was it planned?

This usually is what people ask when they notice you have more than two kids, if you are having a child at an older age, or during a time of unemployment. I’m sure these situations may cause curiosity, but asking if a child was planned or wanted isn’t any of your business! Unless the person offers up the information to you, then just try and keep that wonderment to yourself!

7) Unsolicited questions or Advice

Unless you are talking about things like breastfeeding, parenting styles, relationships, etc., you should avoid asking personal questions regarding a pregnancy or impending parenting styles. Some women aren’t able to breastfeed (or just don’t want to), so being asked if they plan to can be a touchy subject. Criticizing or suggesting parenting styles to someone who didn’t ask for advice can be a cause for contention. Asking about pregnancy symptoms that may be more personal (or even things like, how much weight have you gained?) should probably be avoided, too! I know most questions aren’t meant to be offensive or rude – most of us are just curious! But it’s good to tread with caution if you are asking anything personal.

On a similar note, unless someone is asking for advice or stories on giving birth (or any other number of topics related to bearing and rearing children), then don’t offer it up. There are some very passionate opinions out there, especially about child birth, and you never know how someone feels!

When I was pregnant with my first I was constantly bombarded with negative birthing stories. It would have been amazing if someone could have shared some of the positive aspects rather than trying to convince me I couldn’t do it. – The Train Driver’s Wife

8) Scolding for behavior

Certain things should be avoided during pregnancy, and if you see a pregnant woman doing them…it may be worth mentioning (some people just don’t know that certain things should be avoided.) However, reprimanding a pregnant woman, or even their spouse, for something they are doing is just rude for the most part. For instance, the other day Forrest and I were at the store. I was at the end of the lane, he was at the beginning with our cart. I can’t even remember what I was doing, but I noticed a lady really interested in what was in our cart, and she even took a few items out. Forrest doesn’t usually get visibly upset, so I figured she was just asking where he got something. Well, it turns out she was really getting upset with him for buying a certain brand of iron pills, and how she couldn’t believe that he would let me put something like that in my body, etc. He was quite taken back! It was a brand of iron that my doctor had specifically asked me to take, so it’s not like we were buying illegal drugs or alcohol. Unless you see something that is truly, truly going to be hurting their child, just keep your opinion to yourself! Maybe someone shouldn’t be eating a second bowl of ice cream…but that’s not up to you 🙂

9) “It’s About Time!” “Finally!” or “That was fast!”

Some people have children have right away, others not for a long time. Some may have their children close together, and others may have years spaced between them. There are so many reasons for this (personal decisions, unexpected pregnancy, infertility), and unless they have confided in you with that information, definitely avoid it! For instance, if someone has been trying for a long time to get pregnant, and they finally are (perhaps even after miscarriages), if you say something like, “Well it’s about time you had a kid!” it can really make them feel bad – because they may have prayed and cried for a child for a long time, and wished they could have had a child earlier! Even when we announced that we were having another baby when Jack was just about three year’s old, some people commented on how it was about time. Even though it was timing that we chose, and an age difference we felt good about, it was kind of frustrating that people thought we weren’t having our kids close enough together.

10) Maternal age

Whether someone is having a child at 19 or at 43, commenting on how they are too young or too old isn’t a great idea. Most people are well-aware of their age, risks associated with it, and certain “freedoms” they may be giving up, so you don’t need to tell them!

11) Sickness

As someone who has struggled with severe pregnancy sickness, let me tell you – it’s miserable. Comments like, “Well you can’t be that sick,” or “You made the decision to get pregnant – live with the consequences!” are not appreciate. Trust me, when you are throwing up multiple times a day, the last thing a pregnant woman wants is for people to tell her to buck up!

What You Should Say Instead

So, I know that seems like a lot. You may just be tempted to avoid pregnant women altogether (and some of you probably should…I kid.) So if you are wondering what you should say, here are a few ideas:

  • You look absolutely beautiful!
  • You are glowing – pregnancy looks good on you.
  • Just wait until the baby is born – it makes everything you go through in pregnancy worth it!
  • Can I help you?
  • Do you want my seat?
  • Four boys/girls! What a blessing!
  • Congratulations!

 

 

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3 Comments

  • This is so true! I wrote a post about the worst things last year and the best things a few weeks ago, and I completely agree! Plus when you are pregnant, you are super sensitive and people just don't seem to have a filter and they just say things that are rude without realizing they are rude. So this list is definitely helpful!
  • I've had multiple well intentioned women tell me that I must be having a girl, because with a boy 'your face gets skinny and you don't gain weight anywhere but in your belly'... So that means...??? My face is fat and I look like I am gaining weight everywhere? As a hormonal pregnant woman these comments really cut deep!

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