Conversation Etiquette with a Pregnant Woman

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We have all heard the stories of women that were only six months pregnant and everyone was buzzing about how they looked like they were carrying twins or could pop any day. But, have you considered there are times throughout this extremely hormonal season in a woman’s life that comments are not necessarily warranted, welcome, or very polite?

Appropriate Comments to Make to Pregnant Women | ALLterNATIVElearning for OKC Mom's Blog

I am one of those women that doesn’t get very big in pregnancy so while I do not have a lot of rude comments about popping, there are a lot of other ones that I face. And in my hormonal fog, I tend to not respond very well. So I would love to go through some not to complain or rant, but to offer some other kind words that we can all extend to one another during this both beautiful and turbulent time in a mom’s life.

8 Rules of Thumb when Talking to a Pregnant Mom

Oh, you’re really sick? At least the baby is healthy.

Not necessarily. No. So it does NOT make me feel better when you are telling me that because I have been sick for months and I am not even in my first trimester anymore that my baby is thriving. I know too many women that have miscarried or had horrible experiences in their pregnancies from being so nauseated. It’s all hormonal and has nothing to do with how well the baby is doing. The bottom line is, if I am not getting adequate nutrition, neither is the baby inside of me.

Consider asking a mom in this category if there are any foods that calm their stomach and if you could help by providing some. Can’t provide something like that?  Then offer sweet thoughts, prayers, and maybe a five minute back rub because that mom probably has a headache from being sick. If she already has kids, offer to watch her kids even for 30 minutes.

You don’t even look pregnant. At all.

I got this well into my 7th month with my daughter. And while I am not telling anyone when I am due with this one, no one would know I am pregnant unless I told them. I even had co-workers when I left my teaching position think that pregnancy was just my excuse to leave and that I was lying. So why might this be a comment you should refrain from saying? Because for me, I still want to feel like a mom. I want to be healthy, but show the world I am expecting. Telling me I don’t look pregnant and that the recommended weight gain in pregnancy in 30 pounds doesn’t help me. It makes me feel inferior. There is nothing more deflating than excitedly telling someone you are pregnant only for them to shoot you down with a serious “No, you are not. There is no way!”

Consider telling her that she is glowing and that you can’t wait to see that beautiful baby. Tell her she is truly vibrant and that she must be making healthy choices for herself and growing babe.

You must be having twins, triplets, multiples.

Please don’t be so quick to say these hasty comments. While the non-pregnant might find such comments amusing, the pregnant woman does not. She is trying to eat for herself and nourish another human. She probably is concerned about post-baby weight in the long run and she doesn’t want to know that she looks like she is carrying a bus of babies in her belly. She also doesn’t want to feel like she is twice the size she should be or that she is doing something wrong. Especially as a first time mother, this is not the foot we want to get off on (thinking we’re doing something wrong).

Consider telling this mom that she looks so healthy and that baby must be thriving! We all want to hear we’re doing the right thing for ourselves and our children. Maybe even ask this mom what her cravings are if she’s had any (without mention of her size or weight). That would be a fun conversation and you might actually discover that she’s eating very healthy and realize you should not judge!

You look HUGE! You’re About to Pop!

On the opposite end of the spectrum is telling a woman that she has gained too much weight or that she is going to have that baby any day. Those last few days and weeks of pregnancy are hard no matter how big you are. Your hormones are making you emotional and you just want to give up. Talking about size and how that baby is coming can just trigger water works and a whole range of emotions you don’t even want to mess with.

Consider asking this mom how she is preparing for the arrival of her new baby (without any mention of dates or her size). Ask her if she has meals lined up and if you could offer to drop off a freezer meal to have ready once the baby arrives.

So you’re not telling anyone ________.

Fill in the blank. Due date, gender, name, etc.. Please remember that it’s not about you. It is about the mom, the dad, the baby, and their choices as a family unit. There are always reasons for protecting this information. Many parents have gone through the agony of having the perfect name chosen only for a family member to make fun of it. SO I do not blame people for keeping names to themselves. For us, we are not telling anyone a due date. Not even a month. Only “Winter”. Why you ask? Because due dates are estimates and because I want to have a VBAC at home without the stresses of people trying to tell me to induce, schedule a cesarean, or that I should have already had the baby. Again, regardless of what the mom won’t tell you, it’s not about you and your feelings. So don’t get upset; that is by no means the intention. So please do not be offended.

Consider applauding this mom for being able to keep a secret. Tell her that you admire her for making a decision and sticking to it. Ask her more about her convictions, because they’re probably important enough to her for her to want to share.

You know how that happens, don’t you?

Even with my first I had this comment. It’s one that is not as funny as people think. Why? Because many times this comment also comes with some snide remark about family planning and calls into question your readiness to be a mom or readiness to have more kids.

Consider just not saying anything if this comment comes to mind. If you need to say something and can do it without negative comments, tell her congratulations and that you are so excited that she is having the family she always wanted.

Another ______ and you wanted ________? Man…

And this comment better not come with a “you must feel guilty for feeling that way”. It’s hurtful. We all have hopes for our family and we don’t always get what we want. I sincerely wanted a boy. The first time and this time. And it looks like we will have to try again with #3. It’s not in my power to choose the gender, or I probably would have. And my preference does not mean I am not stoked to have another girl. It does not mean that I love her any less. It does not mean anything other than my family will be blessed with more estrogen and I will get the beautiful opportunity to have another child again someday. And if it’s another girl, then I can again still celebrate a healthy baby.

Consider telling this mom how great it is to have two or more kids of the same gender. Tell her how they will be best friends and do so many fun things together. Get her imagining and dreaming rather than dwelling.

You’re going to have your hands full. / Boy and girl, you must be done having kids now!

We have all seen large families and moms that are toting kids from their hips and ankles and backs and… But really, a family’s reproductive practices are no one’s business but their own. They might be busy and have a lot of little minds to cultivate and tummies to fill, but I promise you their hearts are so full. They get to choose when they have kids, how many they get to have, and it doesn’t matter if they planned all of them or not.

Consider telling this mom that she is doing a great job. Whether it’s two kids, 5 kids, or 7, it doesn’t matter. Tell her she must be so loved by all of her little munchkins!

Other etiquette for talking to a pregnant mother

  • Always be excited for her, even in her down moments.
  • Do not offer services and gifts that you cannot follow through with in the end.
  • Enjoy the journey with her.
  • If she doesn’t want to talk about it, don’t push it.
  • Remind her how beautiful she is.

What comments might you add to the list of things you hated hearing while so hormonal?

8 COMMENTS

  1. Bravo Kara! I applaud you on getting these feelings out there! Fielding insensitive comments and questions day in and day out can be exhausting and disheartening. I too am expecting number two (I usually say sometime around ‘mid-November,’ because people were so hung up on my last EDD) and hoping/striving for a VBAC. Blessings on your journey to a family of four!

    • Thanks Taryn! It REALLY can be exhausting especially when you are doing the best you can and having a rough pregnancy.

      Congrats on your #2! It’s funny how some people hang on to the due date as if it is THE moment that a child is and should be born. It’s so crazy to me! Good luck on your VBAC, it’s such an exciting journey. I have been focusing on “I will have an easy and seamless birth”; maybe it will encourage you too 😉

  2. I love this! I wrote a similar post when I was overdue with our fifth baby (who finally made her debut at 12 weeks past the due date). I’m actually one of those people who is VERY big with pregnancy, and I really hate being told I look like I’m going to pop at 6 months. I can’t tell how many times I’ve been asked if I’m having twins, and yes, people like to assume we’re “done.” I have to say I’m envious of you ladies who don’t show much (REALLY envious!). Being 5’2″ and pregnant with an 11 lb 12 oz baby (as our last baby turned out to be!) definitely shows (and still shows 6 months later, ha!). But thanks for helping me see the other side. I’ll be more careful what I say from now on!

    • Wow Anna! I applaud you and your frame for carrying an 11 pound baby. That’s a feat in itself 🙂 I definitely know that I would never like the twin comment either. Being on the small side I definitely get comments about nutrition and if I am starving myself or if they baby is thriving. I don’t want to worry about that and, “I’m eating like a horse, we’re fine!” 😉

  3. Two days before I was due with my second child, a man at a gas station told me I looked like I hadn’t missed a meal recently! I couldn’t believe it! So many people forget the mom’s feelings when they say things like that.

  4. I am due in 10 days with baby #2. When I was pregnant the first time My belly did not get that large. This time it has. I have only gained 20 lbs which is less than I did with my son. I am glad that I did not overdo it but that has not stopped the comments. Many people said I would not last. I do waddle a lot due to the hip and siatic pain.
    The worst comment happened when I was at Walgreens with my husband. There were 2 ladies talking to each other. One of them finally asked me how far along I was. I told her 35 weeks. The other woman was shocked and said, “I hope I don’t get that big!” I asked her, “How far along are you?” She told me she was 32 weeks. Wow. She hardly showed and I felt enormous. I am 5’2″ so I guess there is no where else to go but out. As a fellow preggie she should have known better.

    • Congrats on your upcoming arrival! That is so sad that another pregnant woman said that. No pregnancy is the same, no body is the same, and no baby is the same. Definitely something we all need to focus on. That and being healthy; but again there are many variations of healthy.

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