7 Things to Never (EVER) Say to a Pregnant Woman


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OK, so at 33 weeks pregnant with my third little one, I was getting grouchy and irritable with third trimester discomforts. And then there’s the fact that I’m only 5’2” (OK, fine! 5’ 1.5”!) and because there’s just nowhere for baby to go but out, I always carry huge. Even though I’m on round three, I’m still shocked by what strangers consider appropriate small talk regarding my pregnant belly. I wasn’t even 6 months along when the waitress at a restaurant asked when I was due (expecting it to be any second) and reacted by dropping her jaw and exclaiming, “Whoa! Do you ALWAYS carry this big?” “Actually, I’m carrying smaller than my first two pregnancies,” I replied. (I had some super duper horrible morning sickness for the first 22 weeks.) I think I blew her mind and she walked away with an astounded “Oh, WOW.”

So, I thought I’d have a little fun by sharing some phrases I’ve actually been told that should absolutely never be said to a pregnant woman (really folks, EVER) and the things I’ve wanted to say in reply (but didn’t):

1. Are you SURE you’re not having twins?

Having seen two ultrasounds, I’m pretty damn sure! But thank you for questioning my intelligence in addition to sharing your charming insights on my ginormous size.

2. You’re the biggest pregnant woman I’ve ever seen!

Seriously? I already feel like my belly defies the laws of physics. The only appropriate response to this one is to try to walk away without causing physical harm to the speaker. My friends who carry small have told me that it’s just as annoying to hear “You’re 8 months? You’re so small!” as for someone to point out that you’re massive. 

3. My! You just look pregnant all over! I mean, you can’t tell some women are pregnant from the back but you look pregnant from every angle.

Yes. I’m pregnant. I LOOK pregnant. And I’m so glad you noticed how I’m swollen from head to toe while some women look like they’re carrying a watermelon under their shirt. Awesome.

4. Are you due tomorrow?

No, actually, I’m due in 3 months. Shall I tell you our baby’s name so you can criticize it? Because that sounds like a lot more fun than this conversation.

5. You look tired!

You know what? I AM tired. I’m GROWING A HUMAN INSIDE MY BODY. But thank you for pointing out that I look exhausted. That’s the encouragement I needed to push through what feels like the millionth day of this pregnancy.

6. You must have a huge baby!

Actually, no, I’m NOT carrying a 14 pounder. I’m measuring perfectly for my due date and baby is a normal-sized human child, not a baby Hagrid, thank you very much.

7. (When overdue) *Look of shock* You haven’t had that baby yet?!

Do you see a baby? You don’t? Then no! I HAVEN’T had that baby yet. And guess what! My annoyance at being overdue is probably greater than your surprise that I’m still managing to waddle around with a full-term baby in my womb. So do allow me to walk away before I let loose my pregnant crazy on you. (And let me assure you, a very overdue woman has stored up a LOT of pregnant crazy.)

So what do you say to the very pregnant woman in your life? Best not to comment on the size of a woman’s belly at all. Just stick to this: The first thing you say to pregnant woman is always, “You look beautiful!” And when a woman tells you her due date, say “oh great, how exciting!!”

If you’re unsure if you can stick to this script, you can always opt to not say anything!


About the Author

Haley is a Catholic wife and mama of three little ones, ballet teacher, and lover of all things Jane Austen, Evelyn Waugh, and Wendell Berry. Find her at Carrots for Michaelmas where she writes about urban homesteading, motherhood, literature, faith, homeschooling, and her undying love for bacon.

Comments

  1. This website was really great to post on Facebook when I was overdue with my first:

    haveyouhadthatbabyyet.com

    It astounds me the lack of awareness people have about pregnant women. I’ve never had so many strangers talk to me in my life. Whether it was a guy in the train station asking about my birth plan and if I was in Lamaze, the fire chief telling me I needed to cloth diaper or my son might have fertility issues down the road, or a woman telling me she could tell I was having a boy because I was carrying so wide, it was too much!

  2. This made me pee my pants laughing!
    Unfortunately that is another bonus of giving birth, lack of control in certain areas.
    With my second pregnancy I always got “you don’t look pregnant from behind” my answer was “That is because I’m not actually pregnant I am just really into hauling an extra 30lbs around for the exercise!”
    People are cruel, and ignorant and sometimes the latter is worse!
    If you can’t tell a pregnant women she is beautiful or glowing then keep your mouth shut!

  3. The worst one that I have heard so far is just last week – at my OBGYN office, from a NURSE – Are you pregnant? {No lady, Ive just gained 20 lbs in the last 6 months because my birth control is making me fat. SERIOUSLY. (BTW !YOU! have been weighing me every 3 weeks!)

    Some people should just keep their mouths shut. It’s almost just as bad to ask a pregnant woman if shes pregnant as it is to say YOURE STILL PREGNANT?

    Though I think the first one hurt more.

    • That is so true. And I just heard from a friend who is NOT pregnant about how hurtful it is when she’s asked if she’s pregnant. Best thing is to not say anything, haha!

  4. TheOtherMom says:

    As my partner and I eagerly await the arrival of #1 (due in 7 days!), your post hit it out of the park. We are both plus-sized women, she being heavier in the chest and legs, and people seem unable to refrain from asking, “Are you sure you’re pregnant? You don’t look 9 months pregnant!” Yes, she is a larger-than-a-model size, but she’s not morbidly obese or ultra-plus. But, despite being fat, she CAN tell the difference between chub and a positive pregnancy test followed by more than a half-year’s worth of OB/GYN visits. We are asked if the due date may be wrong (we were inseminated by a medical professional… we are BEYOND sure of the date of “exposure”), we have been asked why I “didn’t want to be a mom” (I AM a mom to this child, and my infertility wasn’t exactly a choice), and why she would wanted to be pregnant since I look “more like a normal mom” (being pregnant was her dream, and not my reality). I laughed out loud at the “criticize the name” comment, because OH MY GOODNESS, people actually do! She has had more than 1 coworker seek her out just to tell her “they’d been thinking about it” and that she should consider this name or that name or “how about reversing the middle and first name?” SERIOUSLY? Do people actually think their input would be considered in the naming of our child? But the best of comments seem to come from women who have already been pregnant — my partner had no morning sickness and has not had any blood pressure or blood sugar issues; in fact, through due diligence, she’s been healthier in the pregnancy than she has ever been. When someone asks these intrusive questions and if she responds honestly, you can see the look come over their faces — and what follows is usually a backhanded “well, you didn’t dodge the acne, did you?” or “at your size, you probably won’t have more stretchmarks than you had before pregnancy, right?” Our joke is that there must be SOMETHING in pregnant women’s pheromones that makes other people temporarily stupid :) Thank you for the commiserating and laughter!

  5. At 5’2″ as well, I also carried huge and can relate! I always wondered why being pregnant seems to void common curtesy from others.

    • Yes! I think people are just excited and want to say something? Unfortunately, they often say the wrong thing ; )

  6. Thank you for the laugh. I need to laugh more at the ridiculous things said to me during my pregnancy. My mother in law of all people had something to say about “how huge” I was everytime we saw them. Being my first baby I really let it get to me which makes me sad looking back cause it really took away the Joy I should have had during that time.

  7. My Grandma told me this go round (#2) that some women use the time they are pregnant to try and loose weight, and why don’t I try that? That way I won’t have as much baby weight to try and loose.

  8. I was 28 weeks pregnant with my second, out for a walk with my 18-month old, husband, and dog…one of the neighbors said, “Oh, trying to walk that baby out, huh!” Um, no thank you. I’ve still got 4 months to go!

    • Oh, this made me laugh out loud and spit out my wine a bit. I wish I could have seen your face! I got into more than one fight while out walking my dog when I was pregnant. I totally would have punched that lady in the face.

  9. I had six children, and in the late 1990s, this was an interesting number, by which I mean a lot of people were interested in my motivations. I had 2 boys first, then 4 girls like an epidemic. With my first girl…were you trying for a girl? Seriously? I was trying not to get pregnant. After that, the *appropriate* question for everyone seemed to be “do you know what causes that”? I would say, yes…if you’re having trouble in that department I’ll be happy to educate you!

  10. You wouldn’t believe the comments I got from coworkers and even total strangers. I’m about 5’3 and carried very large and high with my son, and I had comments from my coworkers about how I just blew up one day after 20 weeks. Also I would have strangers ask me what hospital I was giving birth at and I’d say I’m not going to a hospital I’m having a home birth, and they would look at me with shock on their faces, and say “wow you’re brave”. -.- Really? Thanks people, as if I’m not scared enough about having to push a baby out of my vagina, you have to freak me out even more by telling me how brave I am for having the child at home.

  11. I’m in sort of the opposite camp because with my first 4 I was barely showing but this time I am *slightly* larger and people gasp and say “look at your huge belly!” (At 27 weeks I can still button my pre-pregnancy pants so its not “huge”). Or I’ve heard several times, “She is so much bigger this time!” I’m sort of to the point where I could care less but it’s just the irrational nature of the comments that gets me. Why comment on the size, big or small? It’s hard work making babies and takes a toll on a woman’s body no matter the size of the belly so women carrying a child should be treated with admiration, respect and encouraging words!

    • I have no idea! I think people just want to be apart of it somehow? Like they want to think of anything to say, just so they can have a conversation and be near a pregnant woman.

  12. Not sure if this qualifies as the rudest thing but it is surely up there in the most insensitive by a doctor category. I was living and working in Singapore when I was pregnant and got food poisoning when I was 12 weeks pregnant after a trip to Nepal. Spent 2 days in Singapore hospital, great facilities but the attending doctor stopped me in the hallway and said “the bacteria is gone but looking at the scans i think your baby has
    Down Syndrome- you have to come back in two days for a full scan by the specialist!” Needless to say, my partner and I were incredibly upset and worried until I met with the specialist. Baby did not have DS. To this day I
    am appalled at the experience and solidified our belief in staying away from hospitals as much as possible!!

  13. Still Working On Forgiveness says:

    Two weeks into waiting to deliver my 6 week old miscarried first-conceived, “You REALLY should have more self-control [eating], after all, they say that pregnant mothers pass obesity on to their children in the womb.” Yes, that was really said to me. And yes, it still hurts.

  14. I think I’ve decided that one of the best things to say to an “overdue” pregnant woman is “well, some buns just gotta cook longer, & its a good thing they’re worth the wait.” What do the rest of you think of that? I know that might still rub some people the wrong way, but I’ve been overdue before and I don’t think I would’ve taken that any other way than positive. If I’m receptive enough to question that statement, I might just say “you’re a rock star & you look amazing”.

    • I agree with your statement, but I know that a very overdue mama might still want to slap someone for saying that to them. I think the best policy to just always tell a pregnant mama her belly is perfect and that she looks radiant. :)

  15. I was one of the ones who didn’t look pregnant for the longest time. I think a good rule of thumb is to never never ever say anything about a pregnant woman’s size, at all. Pregnancy is the one time that every woman wants to be completely average, you don’t want to be big or small, you want to be ‘normal’. Getting comments about how small I was or that I didn’t look pregnant were not compliments, they were a cause for concern. I was very confident that I was healthy and the baby was healthy and we were both the right size (and we were), but that might not have been the case, so people should just not comment!

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