You’re standing in line at the post office, minding your own business, when the clerk notices you’re pregnant. At first, the conversation is light and pleasant, and then it happens; she begins to tell you the gory details of her 36 hour labor. Then she asks if you plan to have an epidural. That’s when the Pregnancy Police should jump out, and hand the offender a ticket for “crossing the line.” Too bad there’s no such law enforcement.
There is something magnetic about a pregnant woman. As soon as she starts to show, she becomes a target for all sorts of attention. Her world fills with questions and comments from everyone imaginable.
For the most part, people have good intentions. They’re excited about babies, and they want to feel involved in the experience. But somewhere, the line between public and private became blurred. Surprisingly, the most private questions imaginable are now commonplace, leaving pregnant women searching for answers.
How do you answer a personal pregnancy question? It depends who asks. Inquiring people can be grouped into three different categories:
Sweet: these people mean well. Their goal is to be supportive, and share a familiar experience. You can laugh off their comments, and easily change the subject to curb unwanted conversation.
Sassy: this group asks more personal questions than necessary. Often, they need their wrists slapped, but you try to keep the conversation friendly in fear of coming across as mean.
Snarky: brace yourself because they have no filter. Their questions leap way over the etiquette line. Whether they know it or not, they make taboo comments that make your eyes squint.
When someone pushes your buttons, turning the other cheek is sometimes easier said than done. On one hand, you don’t want to spend your energy publicly humiliating someone. On the other hand, you don’t want to walk away saying “I should have said that.” It can be fun to say something clever, drop the mic, and exit stage left.
Whether you like the honest approach, or prefer a hint of sarcasm, here are clever comebacks to 8 personal pregnancy questions. Based on the audience, you can modify the delivery.
8 “Can I touch your belly?”
There’s something about a bump that makes people compelled to lay their hands on you. It’s their way of experiencing the pregnancy, even if it’s just for a moment. And for those who have never felt a baby wiggling in the womb, it’s a thrilling experience. But just because you’re expecting, it doesn’t give everyone free rights to your body.
When it comes to the unwelcome hands of a total stranger, rubbing a belly without invitation is not acceptable. A pregnant woman is not public property.
Even if the mother-to-be reluctantly gives you permission, it’s doesn’t mean touching her is appropriate. Pregnant or not, touching someone’s stomach is an invasion of personal space. And yet, touchy-feely folks can’t wait to dive in palm first.
One way to discourage impulsive belly-rubbing is to cross your hands over your stomach. Your body language can create a barrier that curbs the temptation to touch. But if offending hands continue to swarm your stomach, use one of these phrases to back them off:
Question: “Can I touch your belly?”
1. “You can look, but don’t touch, please.” Discreetly brush away the unwanted hand.
2. “I prefer not to be touched. Thanks.” Establish boundaries.
3. “Sorry, but touching puts pressure on my bladder.”
4. “The slightest pressure on my stomach makes me ill.”
5. If they reach out to touch your bump, slowly take a step back, grab their hand and give them a handshake.
1. “Can I touch yours?”
2. Slowly take a step backwards. “You’re invading my personal space.”
3. Start coughing. That will make them take a step back.
4. Touch them back. “Doesn’t it feel weird when a stranger touches you without consent?”
5. Touch them back and stare blankly. They will soon realize why groping is inappropriate.
1. “Don’t mind the rash.”
2. “Do you want to feel my boobs and ankles, too? They’re also enlarged.”
3. “At least tell me your name before you feel me up.”
4. “You’re not at a fruit stand.”
5. “This is not a petting zoo.”
6. With a serious stare, say “I’m not pregnant.” Their confusion will quickly turn to embarrassment.
7 “Was the baby planned?”
Out of all the most inappropriate questions people dare to ask, this is one of the worst etiquette violations. Not all expecting mothers plan to bear a child, but clearly, this is private information.
Again, some people are just trying to communicate, and interact with a pregnant woman. They are not aware when they step over the line. Still, it doesn’t give anyone a free pass to publicly ask about your birth control methods and sexual history.
The truth to this question is no one’s business. If you don’t care to answer honestly, maintain a moral high ground by saying one of these phrases as sweetly as possible:
Question: “Was the baby planned?”
1. “Why would you like to know?” Smile, and give them a moment to reconsider their question.
2. Place your hands on your bump, and whisper to the baby “He/she didn’t mean that.”
3. “Yes, just what we wanted.”
4. “No, we pulled the goalie.”
5. “We love children.” You don’t have to answer the question they asked.
1. “You’re asking if I had unprotected sex?”
2. “Yes. Would you like to see the blueprints?”
3. “It was an immaculate conception.”
4. “No, I woke up like this.”
5. “It was planned by God.”
1.“Were you planned?”
2. “I’m not even sure whose it is.”
3. “No, I used my husband’s washcloth by accident.”
4. “No, my husband is too large for condoms.”
If you’re becoming incensed about frequent personal questions, try to combat your frustration with more humor than disdain. For example, turn it into a game by keeping track of how many inappropriate comments you get in one day. Whatever you do, try not to get bent out of shape. It’s not worth the stress.
6 “You’re huge! Are you having twins?”
It’s no secret that commenting on someone’s weight is not a polite thing to do. Somehow, people forget this rule also applies to expecting mothers.
A pregnant woman does not want to hear that her body is huge. Who would? This comment fits into the fat-shaming category. During these emotionally sensitive months, a comment on weight is unkind. Plus, as a pregnant woman, you are well aware of your expanding physique. A public conversation about your body can be embarrassing.
You can’t avoid insensitive people for ten months, but you can prepare witty remarks that will gracefully handle uncomfortable situations.
Question: “You’re huge! Are you having twins?”
1. “No, the doctor would have told me.”
2. “I think I look great.”
3. “My doctor is really pleased with my progress.”
4. “Oh, are you an obstetrician?”
1. “I'm pregnant. I'm supposed to look this way.”
2. “Thanks. I needed a reminder of how huge I looked today.”
3. “It’s mostly fat. Thanks for asking.”
4. “What are you talking about? I’m not pregnant.” A serious stare will shame them into silence.
5. “I’m not pregnant, but I am expecting an apology.”
1. “Really? I didn’t realize. Why don’t you dial 911 for me? I'll have the baby now.”
2. “I was going to say the same thing to you, but I thought it would be rude.”
3. “Maybe triplets. How many are you having?”
4. “No. It’s just a full stomach. I ate the last person who said something about my weight.”
5 “Are you going to breastfeed?”
These days, it seems everyone has an opinion on breastfeeding. This question can imply that the judgment brigade is on its way. Being a good mother is not dependent on her decision to breast or bottle feed her child, so why do people ask this question? Perhaps you haven’t decided if you’re going to nurse your newborn. If you have decided, maybe you don’t want to hear other people’s opinion. Coming from strangers, this can be an uncomfortable question.
It’s understandable that people are curious about your future plans with your baby. But do you really want to discuss this topic with a casual acquaintance, neighbor, or random stranger? Either way, it’s a mother’s choice. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. From people you barely know, this question can get really old, really fast.
If you’re receiving judgmental comments about breastfeeding, you may feel like telling the next person to suck it (pun intended), but try to smile to soften your response. Instead of letting it drive you up the wall, try one of these responses:
Question: “Are you going to breastfeed?”
1. “Why do you ask?”
2. “My child will be fed.”
3. “What are the future plans of my breasts?” Let them cower in awkwardness for a moment.
1. Don’t respond. Silence speaks volumes.
2. “That’s my boobie business.”
3. “Why? Do you want to watch?”
4. “Me? No, I was weaned a long time ago.”
1. "How much money do you make?” Turn the tables. People don’t realize how forward they are until they have to answer a nosy question.
2. “Why, are you hungry?”
3. “Yes, as soon as you learn to mind your own business.”
4. “What are you, my breast friend?”
4 “Do you know what you are having?”
There is no shortage of people who will ask a pregnant woman the gender of her baby. Moms-to-be would all be very rich if they had a dollar for every time they were asked “Are you having a boy or a girl?”
This question is not overly offensive, but it does get annoying to hear over and over again. People don’t have ill will. They just like to make conversation with whatever topic comes to mind. Even so, asking the question implies they have a right to know. When innocent conversations take a meddlesome turn, it’s enough to make your eyes roll back into your head.
You can either brush off these questions and laugh, or test out your comedy act by using one of these snappy remarks:
Question: “Do you know what you are having?”
1. “A baby.”
2. “We are very excited.” It avoids their question. Hopefully, they get the hint.
3. Say nothing and shrug.
4. “Not sure. So, how are you doing?” Change the subject.
1. “Do you work for the Census Bureau?”
2. "What's that? I was thinking about something. I didn't hear you." Play dumb, and change the subject.
3. “Hoping for a human!” Close your eyes, and cross your fingers
1. “Contractions. Hold on a minute.”
2. “A ninja.”
3. “No, I’m still waiting for three paternity tests.”
4. “They say 1 in 5 babies are Chinese, so we’ll see.”
3 “When is your due date?”
Pregnant women may be better off printing a shirt with their expected delivery date. That way, they can point to the shirt, and not have to explain every time someone asks this question. The due date is an educated guess when labor will start naturally, but it probably won’t be your baby’s actual birthday. A mere 4% of babies are born on the estimated due date. It’s more of a general idea of when to expect your newborn.
Considering how inaccurate due dates are, it’s funny that people still ask this question. You could say any date, and it would get the same reaction. This news is irrelevant to most people. If you prefer the honest approach, tell people the month instead of the month and day. You don’t want to be swamped with texts and phone calls when the day arrives. Also, remind your friends and family that the day is just an estimate.
For other inquisitive types, prepare yourself with funny comebacks so you’ll never be stumped again.
Question: “When is your due date?”
1. “Any minute now.”
2. “The eviction notice is December.”
3. “Are you offering to come and help deliver the baby?”
1.“The day the baby comes.”
2. “About 10 months after conception.”
3. “What are you going to do with this information?”
1."I already had the baby.”
2. “Why, would you like to order one?”
3. “If I knew who the father was, I could figure it out.”
Hopefully, these responses won’t open the door for a further line of questioning. If it does, swiftly change the subject.
2 “Have you dilated at all?”
Some people see a woman with child, and completely forget their manners. They will question anything and everything, even something as private as cervical dilatation. The cervix is the opening under the uterus, at the top of the vagina. This area needs to dilate to 10 centimeters before the baby can descend the birth canal. So when people ask if you are dilated, they’re basically asking if your vagina is open.
Believe it or not, some people really have the audacity to ask this question. Aside from your doctor or close friends and relatives who may need to know, this question should be off limits. This is not a “how’s the weather” chit-chat, and it’s not appropriate for casual discussion, ever.
From a complete stranger, posing this question exhibits bad etiquette. From a co-worker, it is totally unprofessional conversation. The measurement of your private parts is extremely personal. This question will no doubt make you feel uncomfortable, and at a loss for words. If random people inquire about the state of your lady bits, first, remove the look of horror from your face, and then try one of these replies:
Question: “Have you dilated at all?”
1. “My partner and I are keeping details to ourselves.”
2. “I'd rather not discuss it."
3. “Let’s talk about something else, please.”
4. “I don’t like to share information.”
5. “Oh my! Look at the time.”
1. “Did you poop today?”
2. Shrug and say “How’s your vagina today?”
3. "I have no idea. Good day.”
4. Completely ignore the question, and start talking about something else.
5. “Do you hear that fire alarm?”
1. “Why don’t you look and tell me?”
2. “Oh, I’m always talking about my cervix. Why don’t you tell me about yours?”
3. “I’m going to reveal that on Maury.”
4. "I don't know." Take out your cell phone and start to dial. "Let me call my husband and ask him.”
4. “I’m a surrogate. Due to the contract with the baby’s parents, I’m not at liberty to discuss the pregnancy.”
1 “Do you pee a lot?”
Maybe people in the world are just becoming more brazen. When you’re pregnant, it sure seems that way. If you’re nodding your head through this list, you know that well-meaning acquaintances and strangers never fail to induce a face-palm.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was sensitive to boundaries? Unless you’re a doctor, asking how often you pee is out-of-line. It may be an acceptable question for immediate family and friends, but not for the clerk at the post office.
Sadly, some people can’t take a hint, no matter how polite you are. If you’re becoming excessively annoyed with people asking personal questions, don’t be afraid to state that pregnant women deserve personal space, just like any other person. Besides that, you can use one of these lines that will teach people to stop asking personal questions:
Question: “Do you pee a lot?”
1. “Please don’t take it personally, but I’m not comfortable with that question.”
2. “You’re asking about my bathroom habits?” Echoing allows the person to hear the ridiculous question again.
3. “Pardon?” Make sure to stare back, and give them a moment to re-examine their invasive question.
4. “Why, do you?”
1. “Compared to what?”
2. “I was just about to ask you the same thing.”
3. “No, but funny questions like that make me pee my pants.”
4. “Do you have Tourette’s?”
1. “Why yes. In fact, I’m peeing right now. Watch your shoes.”
2. “I guess you missed the memo on what not to ask pregnant women.”
3. “Only when I cough.” Start to cough.
4. “Actually, you’re pissing me off right now.”
Some comebacks may seem a little rude, but if they can dish it, they can take it. Said with a smile, they can lighten your mood, and help you enjoy your final weeks of pregnancy.