Parenting

What to Say (and What NOT to Say) to a Pregnant Woman

Now nearing the end of my second pregnancy, I realize I had forgotten how much people (especially random people that you have never met before) like to engage pregnant women in conversation.

It can be hard to appreciate it when it’s pressing down on your bladder 24/7, but while you are experiencing the 40 weeks of wonder (and incredible discomfort), you forget just how cute a pregnant belly can be.

In recent weeks, more and more people have smiled at me on the street or said hi when they might not have otherwise. Some ask if I know what gender the baby is, or what we’ll be naming him. Others ask when my due date is, or mention that they’ve been in my position and know how uncomfortable I must feel. All very sweet and innocent conversation, and I always welcome the sentiment or empathy.

But every so often when you’re pregnant, a person approaches you and does or says the most inappropriate thing.

They probably mean well (and don’t know that it’s inappropriate), but there are some things that everyone should know about when dealing with pregnant ladies, especially if those mamas-to-be are strangers.

Here’s a list of things you might want to say or do — and the alternative that would be much better.

  • What you want to say: “When are you due?”
  • What you should say: NOTHING.

If you don’t know, don’t assume a woman is pregnant at all. Maybe the woman gave birth recently, or maybe she’s never been pregnant, or maybe she was pregnant ten years ago. No matter what, it’s none of your business unless she brings it up. Trust me on this one.

  • What you want to say: “Is it twins?” (Or “Are you sure it isn’t twins?”)
  • What you should say: “Congratulations! I’m so happy for you.”

Do NOT mention how big you think this pregnant lady is. Everyone always forgets just how big the belly of a woman carrying a singleton gets towards the end. At seven months we look kind of cute, while at nearly ten months we are carrying a full-sized human being in our body. With the placenta and amniotic fluid, that means that there’s approximately 11 pounds or more just in the uterus itself. That can be a big belly, and it certainly does not indicate that there are two babies in there.

  • What you want to say: “Are you sure about your due date? Maybe you have your dates wrong.”
  • What you should say: “Congratulations! Try to get some rest before the big day!”

In this day and age of fertility apps, ovulation kits, sonograms, and advanced medicine, chances are that this woman’s dates are not wrong. There’s not nearly as much guessing as there was a few decades ago. And unless you intend to engage this person in a conversation about when she is sure she had sex with her husband in order to conceive, or when she had her last period, keep it to yourself.

I can guarantee that she doesn’t want to talk to you about it.

  • What you want to say: “Have you considered [this name or that name]?” “What, you haven’t come up with a name yet???”
  • What you should say: “Congratulations! I hope you both have a safe and healthy delivery.”

Naming a child is an incredibly personal step. Chances are that the parents to be have consulted every naming book or list available to them, and that they know exactly how much time they have to make that decision.

You aren’t going to be helping anything by throwing out the first name that comes to your mind. And while some people don’t mind divulging what their unborn child’s name will be, others prefer to keep it private. Just respect the process and move on.

  • What you want to say: “Wow, you’re eating a lot!”
  • What you should say: Absolutely nothing.

Everyone loves to comment on what pregnant women are eating. When you’re growing a baby, you get random cravings, or you feel sick if it’s been too long since you last ate, or you get lightheaded if you’re lacking a certain nutrient. Sometimes you’re just starving. Other times you just want to eat some ice cream or pretzels or chocolate just like any other human being.

Unless you want someone in your face every time you reach for a second helping, then keep your mouth shut!