What NOT To Say To A Pregnant Woman

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

Pregnancy is such a special, beautiful time, right? You’d be surprised, though, at what some people might feel completely comfortable with telling a pregnant woman. And these particular things haven’t made me feel all that special and beautiful. They’ve kind of left me baffled at what might inspire someone to say such things to a very emotional pregnant woman.

Now I know that none of the comments below were made to intentionally offend me, infuriate me, discourage me, or any other bad intention. I’ve done my best to just laugh them off and move on. But, for anyone who knows a pregnant woman (or maybe is one right now), you might appreciate knowing a few things to NOT say to a pregnant woman, and what you might say instead.

Enjoy this silly collection of real comments I’ve received over the past few months.

“When I had my daughter, I was in labor for over 50 hours and then had an emergency C-section. I almost died!”

As traumatic and impactful as that event was in your life, right now isn’t exactly the best time to tell me about it. All you’re going to do is potentially make me afraid, very afraid. Keep your negative birth experiences to yourself for now, please, and we can compare notes after I’ve been through it myself.

So instead, you could say: “I know you’ll do great with your labor and delivery! We should meet up after and share our stories.”

“Are you planning on breastfeeding? Because it was SO AWFUL for me.”

Along the same lines as negative birth experiences, I don’t really care to hear about negative nursing experiences right now. I know it will probably be really hard at first, but you don’t need to make me feel like giving up before I even try.

Instead, you could say: “Whatever way you choose to feed your baby, I know you’ll be very committed and keep your baby growing strong.”

“Wow, the baby is getting SO BIG!”

Literally. Every. Time. You. See. Me. I know, my belly is growing, like it should be. But still, what woman likes being reminded how much “bigger” she is everyday? Not this one.

Instead, you could say: “You are so beautiful / cute / glowing!”

“If you died right now, would the baby survive?”

This question seems to imply that if I were to die from a pregnancy complication, getting hit by a bus, or really any other series of unfortunate events, it wouldn’t really be that big of a deal if at least the baby could survive. Weird question…

Instead, you could ask: “Is there anything I can do to help you stay healthy during your pregnancy?”

“I can barely provide for myself right now. I can’t even imagine trying to provide for a baby, too!”

Now you may think that I’m all financially set and mentally prepared for this because I chose to get pregnant. But really, I’m just a mid-20 something finding myself in this world, too. I don’t have it all together. Taking on the responsibility of another life is a HUGE feat! And it’s quite overwhelming for me (you’re contributing to that feeling of overwhelm right now, actually.) Especially considering that I won’t be working outside of the home anymore, my whole lifestyle will be completely changed by this baby. But i know it will be worth it.

Instead, you could say, “It’s so admirable that you’re making sacrifices and lifestyle changes to embrace your new role of motherhood. You’ll be such a great mom!”

“You're going to use cloth diapers?? Why would you do that? The poop is going to get stuck all over them.”

You see, the beauty of cloth diapers is that you spray them off, and then you wash them. This eliminates the “poop stuck all over them” issue. If I was not willing to thoroughly wash the diapers, then I would have chosen to use disposable diapers and throw human waste into the trash can on a daily basis. That sounds WAY more sanitary, right? Not so much.

Instead, you could say: “I haven’t heard of many people using cloth diapers, but it’s great that you’re willing to give it a try. You’re going to save money and do good for the environment.”

“You didn’t get (x, y, z baby product) for your baby? How are you ever going to survive without that?”

So babies have been around for a REEEEEAAALLLY long time. Do you think they had all the baby gadgets and gizmos in the caveman days? I wasn’t there to know for sure, but I’m fairly certain that babies were raised just fine. I’m going to depend on my instincts as a mother (as well as some of my own research) to know what my baby will need. At the end of the day, as long as I have the means to feed, clean, and provide shelter for my baby, I’ll be just fine.

Instead, you could say: “I can tell you’ve done a lot of research on which products you want to have for your baby, and which ones you don’t need. You’re going to be a dedicated, informed parent.”

“Aren’t you stressed out being pregnant during a pandemic?”

Why thank you for asking, well-intentioned person. As a matter of fact, I am feeling quite stressed out about a lot of things these days, and I would be even if there weren’t a global pandemic going on right now due to all the preparations for a new baby and all the concerns of what could potentially go wrong for me or the baby. But thank you for reminding me that my stress level should be even HIGHER right now than it would be if things were “normal” in the world. I’m doing my best to keep stress at bay, as it’s not the best thing for a pregnant lady. Now that you’ve brought it up though, it’s creeping back in real fast!

Instead, you could ask: “Is there any way I can help you to feel more at ease and reduce your stress during your pregnancy?”

“I’m so worried about you!”

I get this one quite a bit from people who are just as high risk as I am, or at an even higher risk, to have adverse effects from the “virus.” I appreciate their concern, but like the previous comment, I don’t really need anyone reminding me of things I should be worried about. I worry enough on my own. You can worry about me in your mind if you’d like to, but no need to share that with me.

Instead, you could say: “You’re doing a good job staying healthy and safe during your pregnancy.”

“When you’re about to push the baby out, you’ll get an episiotomy and won’t even know it.”

Gotta love that inaccurate, unsolicited medical advice. Well, this one isn’t so much advice, as it is a statement about what will happen to me, without my consent, during labor. I honestly feel bad knowing that this used to be a common practice in the U.S. And it isn’t right that some care providers did things to patients without their consent.

But in my case, I know that my Midwife would never do anything without my consent, and she certainly wouldn’t revert back to doing a medical practice that has now been found to be unnecessary in most cases, and possibly even harmful. I will direct all of my medical questions to my care provider, so I don’t really need others telling me “how it’s going to be, whether you like it or not.”

Instead, you could say: “You can trust your care team to safely deliver your baby and honor your birth preferences.”

I really hope that after my days of being pregnant are done, I don’t forget what it was like to walk in these too-tight pregnancy shoes. I hope I can be encouraging to others, and avoid saying such strange, awkward, unnecessary things to expectant moms. But, who knows? I might understand one day why people say things like this to pregnant women…. Yah, then again, probably not, but at least I’ve got some laughs out of it all!

I hope you have had some laughs, too. Don’t ever let others’ comments get you down. Just take them all with a grain of salt, and learn how you can prevent making those same foot-in-mouth mistakes in your future interactions with moms-to-be.

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