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What Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman
What is it about a baby bump that inspires such insensitive comments? Here are 13 things you should never say to someone who’s expecting
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Was it planned?
Does it really matter if she took an ovulation test, had sexy time with her husband, and then shot her legs up in the air—or if she got drunk and busy with her boyfriend? It doesn’t at this point. If she’s telling you she’s pregnant, it’s because she wants you to know and be excited! She’s not trying to be interrogated by the pregnancy police, so just say, “Congratulations!”
Are you sure you’re not having twins?
You might as well say, “Wow, you sure look fat!” when you ask this rude question. Some women’s bellies get huge during pregnancy, some do not, but conjecturing about multiples will only get you in hot water. Besides, with all the advances in prenatal monitoring, multiple births are not a surprise for most women these days. So yes, she’s most likely sure she’s not having twins!
Are you gaining enough weight?
While many of the most clueless comments come from people subtly judging you for packing on pregnancy pounds, the naturally slender are not immune. You may think you’re paying a mama-to-be a compliment when you say, “You’re so small” or “I can barely see your belly!” but you may only be stoking her worries about the growth of her baby. Everyone carries differently; let her OB/GYN worry about her weight gain. If you want to make her feel good about her pregnancy appearance, simply tell her that she looks great.
I think you’re having a...
One Parenting reader shared a snarky story about how her co-worker “knew” she was having a girl on our Facebook page. “After he told me the sex of my baby at the water cooler, I overheard him telling someone else his trick to knowing the baby’s gender: ‘Carrying a boy makes you glow and look pretty. Carrying a girl makes you look tired and ugly.’” Ouch!
Can I touch your belly?
While asking first is certainly better than lunging in for a Buddha belly rub, it still puts a pregnant woman in an uncomfortable position if she’d rather keep her bump to herself. If her baby is kicking and she wants you to have a feel, she’ll ask you if you want to feel the baby move.
Confession #8: She Judges Other Moms
Ever felt judged by another mom? Well, you weren’t just imagining it. A scant 12% of moms claimed to not give a hoot what other moms do, but the other 88% admitted they let the judgments fly. Top among the behaviors most likely to garner dirty looks? Sixty-six percent of moms said a bratty kid. Weight and eating issues also hit a nerve for many moms. Almost 37% judge a mom with an overweight child, and 34% look down on kids eating junk food.
You’re breastfeeding, right?
I wish people would ask, “Will you feed your child?” It’s a bizarre question—who would ask such a thing? But that’s how I felt when people constantly asked me if I was going to breastfeed my son, including the cashier at a mega baby store who sized up my purchases and made assumptions about my decision. It’s no one’s business how a mother feeds her baby and asking only adds to the immense amount of pressure and guilt women already feel when it comes to this topic
Will you work after the baby comes?
This is the epitome of loaded questions. No matter what your motive in asking, most women will answer defensively. For nine months, everyone asked me if I was going back to my full-time magazine job after my baby was born. The answer seemed so obvious to me—of course! Babies are expensive! Who would give up a job in such an unsteady economy? Well, the exact same reaction is true for a woman who absolutely plans to stop working after the baby is born. How could I leave my baby? Why would I pay someone else to raise my child?
It’s natural to ask about a woman’s plans after childbirth, just be sure to ask with an open mind: Don’t assume a mom who goes back to work is selfish and that a SAHM is so lucky to afford it (maybe she can’t afford the child care, ya know?)
You’re hoping for a girl, right?
Know a mom with four energetic boys who think they’re superheroes, or one that’s OD’ing on pink and princesses? They must want the opposite sex next time around, right? Wrong. “I hate that everyone assumed that I wanted a girl since I have a two-year-old boy,” confesses a Facebook fan. “I was thrilled to be having another boy.” The question assumes that the expectant parents are not satisfied with what they already have.
It’s about time!
Face it, getting pregnant isn’t always easy-breezy and sometimes the woman actually wants to wait, build her career, spend time with her husband or travel the world. One Facebook fan shares that her friend congratulated her by saying: “You sure did wait a looooong time to get started. I had 3 by the time I was your age." (For the record, our reader was 29!) Whenever it first happens for a woman or couple is the right time.
Are you craving pickles and ice cream?
Warning: Asking a pregnant woman if she’s craving pickles and ice cream can actually make her vomit. My friend once hurled at the sight of mayo and I couldn’t even look at a piece of red meat for nine whole months. If you must know, perhaps, just ask what she’s craving instead of assuming it’s a salty-and-sweet-crunchy-and-creamy combo—yuck!
You can’t eat/drink that!
I drank one cup of coffee every single day of my pregnancy, sometimes ate tuna fish, deli sandwiches, and had an occasional sip of red wine while pregnant. Nothing happened. Never tell a pregnant woman what she can and can’t eat. The “bad food and drink” list is one of the first things our OB/GYN goes over with us. We’re well aware of what we are and aren’t putting into our bodies—and how often. So, if you see a pregnant woman eating tuna salad, don’t assume she’s OD’ing on mercury. And don’t be the coffee police in the Starbucks line. For all you know, she’s ordering decaf—or, like me, having her once-a-day caffeine fix.
Will you have more kids?
“I hadn’t even popped out my first baby, when a stranger on the grocery checkout line asked me if I planned to have more,” says a Parenting magazine reader. While some couples plan to have big families, there are people out there that legitimately want one child. In fact, the percentage of U.S. women having only one child rose from roughly 10 percent to 23 percent between 1980 and 2000. And if a woman or couple want more kids but are unable to have another child, this seemingly harmless question only reopens the wound