Every woman’s journey through pregnancy is different. I think the one thing we can all agree on, though, is that there are certain things you just don’t say to an expecting mother. Before I list them, though, I’ll add that I’m not speaking on behalf of all pregnant women. I’m merely speaking on my own personal experience, and the experiences of other expecting moms I know.
I believe I was about four months along here. So, needless to say, I was showing a bump very early on. I also may have just eaten.
So for those of you who know (or even who don’t know) someone pregnant, here’s some guidelines. Maybe these comments or questions wouldn’t offend the expecting mother, but it might be in your best interest to learn some basic common courtesy 😉.
1) “You’re so big!” and on the opposite end of the spectrum, “You’re not even showing!”. I think “You’re so big” is offensive for obvious reasons. No woman, anywhere, ever wants to be told they look big. Now you’d think most people are smart enough not to say the “F” word to a pregnant woman, but sadly, this is not true. That’s right. Believe it or not, some people think calling their pregnant friend or relative “fat” or “fatty” is a term of endearment. Well, it’s not. It’s always offensive. Always. So don’t. Don’t call a pregnant woman big, fat, large, obtuse, none of it. Also, don’t ask a pregnant woman if they’re sure they’re just having one. I can’t tell you how many times people thought it was funny to ask if I was having twins. A couple girls I know got asked if they were having triplets. I can’t believe people have the balls to say this to a hormonal pregnant woman!
Now I also said don’t say “You’re not even showing”. Believe it or not, this can be offensive too. Pregnancy is such a celebratory, sometimes even miraculous time for women. Some women have been through some trying times just to have a baby. Regardless of the background, most women want to bask in the positive attention and the feeling of pregnancy. Some women want their belly admired. And saying things like “You’re not even showing” or “are you really pregnant?” can not only offend an expecting mom, it can put her down.
It’s my recommendation that you just stay away from comments regarding size, and just give compliments like “You’re stunning” and “You’re beautiful”. Every woman enjoys hearing that.
2) This is sort of a continuation of number one. “You look ready to drop!” or “Are you going to give birth right now?” Believe it or not, we are very aware of our size. As long as our belly makes us incapable of seeing our feet, we are aware that we are little planets walking around. I actually started hearing this question when I was around seven months. Being that I still had a ways to grow, this question/comment really got under my skin. I’d get it from strangers constantly. I never found it funny, but always insulting.
3) This is another one that somewhat discusses size. The size of certain body parts during pregnancy. Personally, I found it kind of funny how much I’d swell up sometimes. My nose and face swelled up the last couple months. My ankles swelled up when I didn’t drink enough water, if it was really hot or if I had been on my feet for a good period of the day. My feet swelled up pretty much from five months on, maybe even earlier. And although I found it comical, not every woman is going to find it so laughable. So comments like “Your face is so swollen!” or “Oh my gosh, look at your kankles!” are better left unsaid.
4) This is another question/comment that I personally dealt with a lot and it irritated me to no end: “When are you going to have another one?”. Other variations of this question varied as (but not limited to): “You should have your next one right away, so they’re close in age”, “When are you going to give Chad a boy?”, “You should just get pregnant again, right after, to get it out of the way”. There’s a lot of ways to ask that question/make that comment, and all of them are annoying. Especially to first time mothers. It was particularly bothersome coming from someone who’d never been pregnant/had children. Let’s just say that even for women who have easy pregnancies, being pregnant isn’t easy. After you’ve been pregnant for nine months, delivered a baby and healed for what takes about two months, then come talk to me. Until then please keep your bright ideas to yourself.
I’m sure I’m not the only one with a daughter that has dealt with a bit of pressure to give their spouse a boy; in fact, I know I’m not. I wasn’t aware my boyfriend was King Henry VIII and I had to bear him a son for the throne. No. I love my daughter and so does he. It’s very rude to insinuate that a girl isn’t good enough. A mother I know told me someone apologized to her husband after finding out they were having a daughter instead of a son. Really? Really? Things like this is one of the reasons I’m writing this blog. If for some reason you’re stuck in The Middle Ages and don’t think a girl measures up, please try your best to keep your mouth shut.
Overall, in this situation, if you must comment, why not try,”Do you plan on having more kids someday?” and whatever they reply, smile and nod. Please refrain from offering your opinion of when you think they should have kids.
Now, on the other side of the coin, there are mothers who have a couple kids and are expecting another. Some people like having bigger families and there’s nothing wrong with that. What there is something wrong with is people having the nerve to say something like “You’re having another one?”. Instead, try something like “Congratulations, you have a beautiful family”.
I know most people don’t say stupid things to pregnant women with bad intent, but what I do know for sure is it’s really nobody’s business how many kids someone has or wants to have. Please do not offer your unsolicited opinions to others on how to live their personal lives. I guarantee that’s much more appreciated than pressuring questions or comments.
5) “Do you have any names picked out?” Actually, this question isn’t so much the bothersome part as the follow up questions/replies can be. Personally, my boyfriend and I had our names picked before we knew the gender. We always knew it would be Athena (after the Greek goddess of wisdom and reason) for a girl or Ares (after the Greek god of war) for a boy. So when people asked, we were happy to share our name decisions; we really love those names! Anyway, there were times people would respond with really snide remarks. We got “Wow really into the Greek mythology huh?”… well yes, considering my boyfriend is Greek and we wanted names with meaning. When we found out we would be having Athena and I’d share her name, we got a lot of eye rolls and scoffs, which really pissed me off. Apparently her name is too “fancy”. Well so what if it is! You asked so don’t be an asshole when I decide to share with you. Now, when people see her out and ask her name 8/10 times we still get that reaction and it really makes my blood boil. I’m sorry her name isn’t basic enough for you 🙄. Now that’s just my story, but unfortunately I know a lot of other women who have dealt with this. Here’s the thing, if you ask, please try not to have such an unfavorable reaction. Furthermore, please don’t offer your opinions on what you think someone else’s child’s name should be.
In relation to this topic, some people may not have names picked yet or don’t want to share them until the baby arrives. This also needs to be respected. It’s unlikely that mothers want to hear your suggestions of baby names if they do not yet have ideas. But if they do, they’ll ask! Now, for those that don’t want to share the name until later, it’s important to respect the mother’s wishes. If they want to talk about it they will. In the meantime, quit asking and pestering. And if they do decide to share, remember to mind your reaction.
6) This is more of an action than a comment or question. But please, please, don’t touch a pregnant woman’s belly without asking! I can’t believe I have to say that but this is actually a very common occurrence. It never happened to me, but I’m pretty sure my “resting bitch face” gave off the “don’t you dare” vibe. I braced for the day though. I know a lot of women this has happened to so I was just waiting for the day someone was brave enough to try it. The only time it got close was when one of my boyfriend’s female coworkers started to go for it, quickly retracted, then asked if it was okay. And because she was so respectful about it, I didn’t mind at all. This one is really simple; just ask. Especially if you don’t know the expecting mother!
I’ll leave it at that for now. Just some common courtesy to remember for those that know (or don’t know) a pregnant woman. Again, I’m not speaking for all pregnant women, but I know enough mothers to know these are some of the more aggravating events that they (and I) dealt with. Expecting mothers are beautiful, extremely hormonal creatures. Don’t cross them.