Tips for Speaking to Pregnant Women

EDITOR’S NOTE: A warm welcome to Ashley Sparks, our newest contributor and as she describes herself on Twitter, a crunchy, Jesus-loving, ADHD wife, mommy and blogger. She’s also preggers like me so YEAH. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter. Do it.
When a woman is expecting a child, it is astounding what people will say to her. A prominent belly, it seems, invites everything from unsolicited advice, to inappropriate questions, to complete strangers telling you their entire birth story, complete with details of their bowel functions in the days after, all while you are in line to check out at Publix. While some chit chat is certainly harmless, there are several topics that should never be breached – ever. But how is one to know what is and is not okay to say? Never fear! This list should help you refrain from asking the things that run the risk of getting that cheesecake in her shopping cart dumped on your head.

Top Ten Things to Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

10. “Boy, will you have your hands full!”

Whether this is due to juggling a demanding career or three other small children – or both – with the expected baby, I assure you she already knows this. The last thing she needs to hear is how tough her life is going to be when baby gets here. You might as well just say “Better you than me, sister!”

9. “Oh, I bet you are hoping for a boy/girl!” or “I sure hope you have a boy/girl!”

NO. NO. NO! This is incredibly insensitive. First of all, she doesn’t care what you want her to have. Secondly, you are basically telling her that you will be disappointed if she has the opposite. Like she isn’t under enough pressure already! Finally, if she already has a child or children of the other gender, it’s the equivalent of telling her that her existing children are consolation prizes and what is really worth having is the opposite. This is hurtful and insensitive. Just do not do it!

8. “Aren’t you worried about…”

Well, no. But I am now! Thanks for that.

7. “You are going natural/inducing/having a c-section? Are you crazy?”

This is not your birth. This is not your decision. Respect each woman’s right to birth how she chooses! Of course if she is open to an educated and respectful discussion of the matter, that is one thing, but if you are bashing her choice, that is another thing entirely. Not okay! It may not be the choice you would be comfortable with, but remember, it is not your choice to make, so it’s best to stick to Thumper philosophy: If you don’t have something nice to say about it, just don’t say anything!

6. “So, were you trying to get pregnant?”

This is up there with the gender question. This puts the mother in an awkward position. If they were not trying, she has to come up with a way to say this that won’t sound like “We didn’t really want this kid” which most likely isn’t true, but no matter how you say it, it sounds bad. If the answer is yes, it’s equally awkward, because it feels like saying “We’ve been at it like rabbits for months!” Neither is a conversation you really want to have with a coworker/Sunday school class/random person at Barnes and Noble. The only people who could appropriately ask this question probably already know the answer.

5. “Are you/your husband excited?”

This may seem like a harmless question, because you may think “Of course they are excited!” However, in reality they may be working through an array of feelings on this issue. They may be frightened at the prospect of raising a child, overwhelmed with unhappy news about the baby’s health that they are not yet sharing, or frustrated by an unexpected pregnancy. On top of this, they may already feel guilty for not be elated about expecting a new baby. This question will only add to those feelings, so it is best to just avoid it.

4. “You are still pregnant? I thought for sure you would have had that baby by now!”

Chances are good that she thought the same thing. Chances are also very good that she is far more frustrated that she is still pregnant than you are. This is a classic case of adding insult to injury, not mention that it’s just plain rude and annoying. Instead, try asking what you can do to help make things easier for her in the last few weeks before the baby arrives. You can bet she will appreciate it!

3. No words, just touching the belly without asking.

I will never understand why pregnant bellies seem like public property to some people. The only people who may do this without asking are her husband and children. Some women aren’t even comfortable with family members doing this, so don’t ever touch without asking first! Better yet, just keep your hands to yourself. If you ask and she is not comfortable with it, it puts her in an awkward position of saying no and feeling like a jerk, or saying yes when she really isn’t comfortable with it in order to make you happy. You wouldn’t touch anyone’s non-pregnant stomach, so why is it suddenly okay when said abdomen houses precious cargo? Hint: It’s not!

2. “How much weight have you gained?”

While this should be self explanatory, it needs to be said that this is absolutely off limits, no matter who you are talking to. Do not even ask your best friend this! If she is comfortable discussing it, she will bring it up. For you to ask this is the same as asking “So, have you actually gotten as fat as we think you have?” Rude.

1. “Wow! Are you sure you aren’t having twins? You are huge!”

If you are dumb enough to say this, I recommend backing away slowly and then running the other direction as quickly as you can in a serpentine fashion.

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