From the mildly annoying to the downright rude.
There’s nothing more beautiful than a pregnant woman, radiant with happiness inside and out … and there’s nothing scarier than an angry pregnant woman, whose jaw just dropped at something you said to her. Because, yes, we’re strong women, and proud to be growing a little life inside of us. But it’s no secret that we’re also a little sensitive, achy, and swollen (not to mention hormonal). It’s just part of the pregnancy package.
Recently when the wedding expert and lifestyle queen of the Internet, Lauren Conrad, posted 4 things to never say to a pregnant woman, mothers-to-be couldn’t stop sharing it. And lot of it was good advice: Don’t comment on the size of her bump, don’t ask her when she’s due if you aren’t sure she’s pregnant, don’t ask a married couple when they’re going to have kids, and never, ever touch the belly without asking.
But when the list was over, we were left thinking about all of the other things us pregnant women have put up with over the years. So I compiled even more key phrases, gathered from my own personal experience and several other mothers I know, to add to Ms. Conrad’s list of no-nos—from the mildly annoying to the downright rude.
1. How much weight did your doctor say you could safely gain?
Did you really want a death stare from someone twice your size today? Because asking this kind of question will get you one … instantly. You may think weight is fine to talk about when you frame it as a health or doctor question—but, let me assure you, it’s not.
Pregnancy is a beautiful thing, and it can come with a very cute round belly, but that’s not the only thing that gets rounder. Our chests, bottoms, and hips all get bigger; our legs and feet swell. Sure, a lucky few of us only gain as much as the baby weighs (plus fluids, placenta and such) despite devouring enough to feed a barracks full of army men. But others, even when we watch what we eat and follow a healthy diet, have to watch the numbers on the scale go up like a speedometer of a racing Ferrari. It’s just one of the side effects of cooking up a miracle. And by asking about a pregnant woman’s weight, you’re often implying she’s gained too much, and make her feel badly.
2. You look so slim!
Yes, I know. You meant this as a kindness. But sometimes it can be just as bad as question #1. Your intention here, we know, is to be extra nice and recognize a pretty, pregnant silhouette. Sure, there are fit-moms, who only have a neat little baby bump the size of a melon, where this might apply, but even then … Talking about looking trim to a woman who has already put on a number of pounds and doesn’t fit in her clothes (or even her husband’s T-shirts), cannot put her shoes on her swollen ankles, and confront all of this in the mirror every day, is the simplest way to make her upset. Seriously. Instead, simply tell her she looks nice, radiant or happy and even sexy.
3. I’m sure you’ll get your “before” figure back…
First, why do you even care? She will, or she won’t—it’s her business. Believe me, she’s already feeling the pressure from media and culture today, pushing her to go to the gym, and to rub the right stretch mark cream on her belly regularly after leaving the hospital. Some moms manage to deal with those extra pounds quickly, for some it will take years, and still others will only gain weight with each successive pregnancy. The point isn’t to look like a high schooler after the baby, rather, to feel good in your body again. Pregnancy and childbirth, whether we like it or not, leave us lasting traces which we need to love, not hate and fight. Those are the signs of love, after all.
4. Oh, are you allowed to eat that?
Most people think they are certified specialists in pregnancy diet and nutrition: Mother, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, waitress, lady at the post office, grocery store cashier, and even the guy selling popcorn at the movies. Why does everyone feel obligated to warn a pregnant woman of the evil lurking in her food choices? Are you a prenatal nutritionist? No? Then back off. We have our own doctors and trusted sources for that, thank you very much.
5. Do you know what you’re having?
A watermelon. Or maybe a mouse. I used to say I’m having an alien. I’m having a baby, what else is supposed to be in my belly?
Asking about the sex of the baby is annoying for a lot of mothers, especially when people start to ask in the first few weeks or months, where there isn’t the slightest chance of determining the sex yet anyway. If she knows the sex and wants to share, she’ll do so without you asking. In the end of the day, though, the greatest worry of a future mom is not whether to prepare a small pink or blue outfit, but simply whether the baby is developing normally and is healthy.
6. It’s definitely a boy
I’m sorry, were you an ultrasound machine in another life? I doubt it. Please don’t share your method for telling it’s a boy or girl for sure based on how we’re carrying. Usually, all we’re going to take away from it is that we’re fat in one place or another. Thanks for the memo.
7. Well, it’s about time!
It’s certainly wonderful that you are happy about your sister’s pregnancy, or your friend’s, your relative’s or your colleague’s. But that joy doesn’t give you the right to comment on the decision to have a child, which outside observers can always deem too early or too late. The time when a woman is pregnant is the right time for her. So all the more, bite your tongue if you are tempted to ask a question if the baby was planned. Better worry about your own schedule for bringing children to the world.
8. Do you still have sex?
Yeah, this one is a strange question. But mothers to be often get blindsided by it, especially when it comes from an acquaintance rather than your closest BFF. We know what’s ahead after the pregnancy: First the postnatal period, then the prose of life takes over—changing diapers, teething, sleepless nights, and yes, we’re probably getting a few good evenings in while we can now. But why do you want know what happens in my bedroom? Are you curious to know if the big belly is a problem during sex? It isn’t. But, hey, if you’re so curious, maybe try to get pregnant and see for yourself.
9. Stock up on extra sleep
I know, I know. You think it’s friendly advice. You can stock up on some groceries in the pantry, but we could hibernate like bears while pregnant and it wouldn’t give us more energy after we’ve given birth.
Really, it’s a statement that sounds like concern but is underlined with a threat. It’s a little like the sex thing, above: That once the baby is born, the life as we know it, sexual and otherwise, will be ruined. We’ll cross those bridges when we get there. For now, maybe just let us enjoy being pregnant, and congratulate us.
10. When are you planning on your next one?
OK, technically we hear this one right after we’ve just finished being pregnant. But some of us have heard this just days before the water is about to break, too (and if you’ve asked this and didn’t get kicked, it was probably because this pregnant woman or new mom just didn’t have the strength). Let mom think about just this child for now. Because, seriously, that’s more than enough to keep us busy, excited, and totally exhausted.
Do you have anything to add to the list? We want to know. Join the conversation on facebook!
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