What not to say to a pregnant woman, ever

Re-blogged with permission by Lauren Keenan of Modern Mothercraft

Before I had my children, I thought that being pregnant only involved growing a baby. Fool! Little did I know that it also involved hearing awkward comments for months, some of which saw my pregnancy-induced hormonal rage activated to Defcon Ten. Given that Defcon Ten rage is bad for the baby, I wanted to perform a good deed for my fellow sisters and educate the masses. So, here is the definitive guide: what not to say to a pregnant woman.  Ever.

  1. Oh, you look big!
    As if you don’t need reminding that you haven’t seen your feet in weeks and feel like a giant galoompa. Or, in the case of what someone said to me at six months, surely you can’t get any bigger?
  2. Oh, you look small!
    Now I didn’t get this very much (see above) but I imagine it could make you feel very worried about baby’s growth. When talking to pregnant women, the golden rule should be: never mention their size. Ever.
  3. Your pregnancy seems to be going well.
    Just because you’re not hosting your own moan-fest every day or don’t have serious issues doesn’t mean there aren’t other things going on that you don’t exactly want to tell a colleague over a water-cooler chat.
  4. Women still die in childbirth, you know.
    Someone said this to me when I was about 34 weeks. Hormonal rage glare was well activated, I’ll tell you, followed by me obsessively Googling stats on maternal mortality. ‘Twas a dark day.
  5. The anesthetic didn’t work during my c-section.
    Or any other horrendous labour story. Or any story about a regular intervention or commonly used drug that severely damaged someone you vaguely know’s brother’s wife’s cousin.
  6. Have you had your baby yet? <a day passes> What about now? <one more day passes> What about today? Hasn’t your due day passed now?
    I’ve never understood why people don’t just trust you’ll tell them once the baby is born and you’re ready to announce. It’s not like failure to ask means that you’ll never find out, and in a decade you’ll see a ten-year old at a family gathering and think ‘Oh, so and so had her baby after all, I knew I should have asked about the baby more often when she was tired and stressed and ready to pop.’
  7. You are going to be sooooooooooo tired. You think you’re tired NOW? Just wait! <insert evil cackle>
    This one used to annoy me as sadly I don’t have an invention which allows me to bank up sleep for future use, so knowing I will be tired in the future does nothing to prevent tiredness or make it better. Plus, in my experience, it’s not even that true. Of course I’m tired with two kids, but at least I can sleep deeply now and lie how I want. That brain-dead uncomfy sleep of late pregnancy was far worse.
  8. Are you sure you should be eating/drinking that?
    Fair enough if I’m drinking a G&T laced with meth, or if it’s food that’s not safe for baby, but I’m less sympathetic if the food in question is something that the Ministry of Health says is OK. Like nuts.
  9. <SILENCE> = that’s the sound of someone you don’t know not asking permission to touch your belly.
  10. You may think that now, but you’ll soon see <insert mocking laugh>
    Usually said after someone pregnant with their first talks about the things they will and won’t do once their baby is born, like how they’ll still go to movies and read books, and the babies won’t watch TV until they are 25 and so on. This is deeply annoying when you’re pregnant. First, just because someone hasn’t managed to do something once their kids have been born, it doesn’t mean you won’t. And if you’re wrong, so what. You’ll be doing enough looking back on your pre-child views with a bitter laugh yourself, no need for others to start early on your behalf.
  11. Comments about name “rules”
    Like no alliterations, no popular names, no names starting with K or so on. Hearing these “rules” really don’t help in an already tricky process.

Instead, these are the things that some people said to me that were lovely and I still remember fondly:

  1. You’re going to be a great mum.
    I still think fondly of the times someone said that to me, it really meant a lot.
  1. Is there anything you need?
    I was so lucky to have lovely friends who passed us lots of baby clothes as it was really appreciated, and have enjoyed passing clothes on to pregnant friends since. I love the way this makes me feel part of some cool baby-loving community.
  1. <SILENCE> = that’s the sound of talking about things other than babies every now and then which made me feel like I was still a normal person rather than a baby-carrying vessel.
  1. Mmmmm.
    That’s the non-committal noise people with children make when they hear someone pregnant with their first talk about how their kids won’t watch TV, drink juice, wear disposable nappies, throw tantrums etc. See number 10 above.
  1. You look glowing!
    Someone said this to me once when I was 30 weeks and had frizzy hair and the skin of a teenage boy. I knew it was a lie, but still made me feel good.
  1. That’s a lovely name!
    Said after you volunteer a favourite name. Much nicer than hearing “yuck”, “ew” or “another one”.

Lauren is a Wellington mother of two. She blogs at Modern Mothercraft, where she applies a 1945 handbook on motherhood to parenting in the modern day, as well as writing about other topical issues.

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