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Comments to avoid when speaking to pregnant women

( Forgive me for my absence, I’ve been busy doing life and couldn’t remember how to form sentences)

An admittedly redundant, snarky list that is obviously still needed because I have continued to hear every comment listed.

  1. “You are so big/ You’re getting bigger”: Yes, yes I am. That is, in fact, the point of pregnancy; however, I am still a woman, and no more than I would comment on your weight, I truly don’t enjoy hearing that I’m ” big”. It grates on my already lessened self esteem and replays on a loop in my head. I’m acutely aware that I can no longer see my feet, that I walk like a penguin on ice, that I knock things over with my stomach- you pointing it out doesn’t provide any new or helpful information.

INSTEAD, say: “You look so healthy” (one of my favorite, and most remembered compliments from my first pregnancy was, “You have really great posture”. It was specific enough that it was true and made me feel like I was doing something right)

  1. “I can’t wait to hold that baby” : I confess, I’ve never been a “baby” person before I had my first son, I thought babies were similar to puppies- a cute prop that was sweet to hold and coo over for a few minutes while I posed for a Lifetime style photo. After I had my son, I realized babies are not photo props, nor do they really like to be away from their mamas ( at least mine didn’t) and the anxiety I felt while he cried in someone else’s arms (yes, people do refuse to return a crying child… I don’t appreciate it nor do I understand it) caused issues for me. So now, while I’m pregnant with my second son, I cringe when people admit they can’t wait to get their hands on my newborn. It’s not that I begrudge people their baby moment, it’s that he’s not even out yet, and I’m already filling in his dance card.

INSTEAD, say: “ I can’t wait to see you with your baby” . This tells me you understand that I need to be with my baby (and he with me). I will also remember this compassion, and hand you the baby when I need a break.
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3.” I’m so tired”: I do realize that pregnant women don’t hold the rights to exhaustion; however, WE ARE LEGITIMATELY EXHAUSTED. We are growing a human body, not sleeping well at night, and struggling to overcome all the difficulties of pregnancy (round ligament pain, sciatica, heart burn, leg cramps, peeing every eight minutes)- throw a preschooler into the mix and there are moments when I wonder how I will put one foot in front of the other one to walk to the bathroom. So it’s really tough for me to hear over and over how tired other people are. It’s not that you aren’t allowed to be tired, you certainly are, but harping on it puts you at risk for a physical attack stemming from pregnancy rage .

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Looking very tired

INSTEAD, say: “I’m tired.” ONE TIME per visit with a pregnant woman.  Any additional mentions of your tired state put you at risk for a tongue lashing at best and a physical attack at worst.

4. I know exactly how you are feeling because I just (stubbed my toe, had my period, had the flu, cried over a commercial)”: No you don’t. You just don’t. Unless you are in the same trimester as me, you don’t know.  Pretending like you know doesn’t create a connection between us, it makes me want to scream at you because, pregnancy hormones.

INSTEAD, say: “I felt horrible when I had the flu for three days, I can’t imagine how you felt with pregnancy nausea for seven weeks.” There, now we can connect.

  1. “You know you have to xxx ( insert ridiculous task that has nothing to do with pushing a baby out of my vagina- usually about potty training my three year old or cleaning up my house)”: The simple truth is, I don’t have to do anything before labor except continue the pregnancy. You adding to my already long (and growing) to do list isn’t helpful; it’s anxiety producing. Also, I’m 100% aware that my toddler isn’t fully potty trained, that my laundry room isn’t organized, that my freezer isn’t full of ready to cook meals. I know these facts because it’s my daily life. Pointing out obvious tasks just adds to the reasons I can’t sleep at night.

INSTEAD, say: “ Can I help you organize your laundry room , make you some freezer meals, or (you will be my best friend EVER if you do this one) potty train your toddler”. Instead of giving me assignments, join my team with specific ways you’d like to contribute. If you don’t want to join my team (and I fully understand not wanting to complete any of the items on my list), then don’t say anything. Silence is golden in this case.

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6.” I can’t believe you are going to have another one”:  Said the stupid old man at the grocery as he was watching my well behaved toddler climb into a kids cart. I haven’t heard this a lot, but it really got to me. It felt like an accusation on my parenting choices and an indictment against my precious son. Let me just say this, it is none of your, my, or the grumpy old man at the grocery store’s business how many children anyone has.

INSTEAD, say: NOTHING

  1. “You look hot” : This isn’t the good kind of hot. This is the, “You look sweaty and swampy and kind of terrible – hot”. I am. I’ve been hot now for about a month. I cover my body in powder and antiperspirant and nothing is cooling me down. I feel like I have my own personal heater jammed into my chest and I can’t do anything about it. And because I feel hot, I feel bigger which makes me feel hotter and then the cycle starts again. Hot makes me grumpy and constantly irritated (Sidenote: as if you have any control over this, winter deliveries are way better than summer ones).

INSTEAD, say: “Can I get you some ice water, ice cream, a personal fan ?  Can I turn down the air conditioner for you?” Then we’ll be best friends.

  1. “Are you sure it’s not twins?”: Nope, never ok.
  2. see all points under number one and add in fear and anxiety over a healthy mother and baby.
    INSTEAD, say: see number one

  3. “I’m retiring.”:
  4. My fabulous, wonderful, jerk of an OBGYN actually told me this at my six month visit. This, above all else, is a bad thing for a trusted doctor to say. This woman actually kept me from needing a blood transfusion during my last delivery, talked me thru exams, and generally helped me relax during labor. Of all the things I was worried about, finding a new OBGYN at six months pregnant wasn’t one of them, but such is life.

    INSTEAD, say : There is nothing to say instead. Just tell me you’ll be my doctor until I’m done having babies because you know I need you there.

11.”Your boobs are huge.” In my past life, I taught high school and I actually heard this from a parent. A PARENT of one of my students. It is never appropriate to comment on someone’s chest, but it is crazy inappropriate to comment on your kid’s teacher’s chest. I wanted to crawl under my desk and disappear.

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INSTEAD, say : Nope, no appropriate replacement. Just keep your mouth closed.

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  1. “Can I be in the delivery room with you?”
  2. : This one’s tough, but I’d say if you aren’t asked, don’t question. The labor and delivery room has become a social indication of how important someone is to the new baby- I for one call shenanigans. A labor and delivery room is a place of LABOR. Hard work and focus are the primary tasks at hand. Your presence in the room is no more an indication of value than the location of your parking space at work.

    INSTEAD, say: ” I am really looking forward to visiting you at the hospital once you and your new family have settled and started bonding.”

For some reason, pregnancy makes you public property. People say and do things they’d never, ever consider otherwise. At times, there is no gracious way to handle it- and now, in my 31st week of pregnancy, I can’t even consider graciousness- I’m too busy herding my three year old to the bath room, so neither of us have an accident.

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Author:

I have a Master's degree in Secondary Education, a Bachelor's degree in English, and a Secondary Ed teaching license. I also have a four year old son, a one year old son, a husband, and a cat. Let's see how those degrees help me manage my life..... Spoiler alert- they just decorate the walls.

2 thoughts on “Comments to avoid when speaking to pregnant women

  1. I can’t wait to see you with your new son, genuinely I mean this. In the meantime, I’d like to schedule some time to help you organize anything you need help with & bring you some frozen meals.
    How’s after Memorial Day sound? 💖

    Liked by 1 person

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