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What Not To Say To Pregnant Women

Pregnant women draw a lot of attention - and not all of it is welcome. I am lucky enough to have a pretty severe case of RBF, so strangers tend to avoid me. I prefer it that way. But even I, bearer of the sourest of blank stares, did not escape the inappropriate comments and gestures that so many women endure while expecting. Even worse, I think back to the times that I was one of those people and I honestly can’t choke down my foot fast enough. So in the spirit of having a group-vent (and hopefully educating others), let’s run down the most common remarks directed at pregnant women.

“You’re SO big!”

A Beautiful Mess

I’m sure you’ve heard about a million variations on this, but you get the gist. I have zero torso length myself, so my two kids both carried way out front. There’s a few reasons this particular note is so off-base. The size of a pregnant person’s stomach has zero correlation to the size of the baby. You might be bringing up a medical condition that is outside of the mom’s control: diastasis recti or polyhydramnios. Both are uncomfortable and potentially serious complications, not really fodder for small talk with someone in the checkout lane. And let’s be honest - is it *ever* in good form to discuss someone’s body shape or size? That general rule of thumb doesn’t change just because someone is gestating someone else.

My usual response: “Oh, you too!” It confuses them just long enough for them to wonder if I meant they’re also “big”, or if I thought they said, “Good Day!” and I was responding in kind.

“Was it planned?”

I Didn't Know I was Pregnant, TLC

Whoa, nosy nelly! Why don’t you just climb up on into bed with the happy couple? Think about what the answers to this could mean. If the baby was planned, this question could be taken as a judgement on whether or not the parents should be having a baby - more “WHY was it planned?” than you might intend. If the baby wasn’t planned, the mom might be stressing out about how this baby will impact their goals. Your question isn’t helpful, it’s selfish and it’s prying for information that’s none of your business. You might as well ask what methods of birth control they use and what position they were trying when they conceived. Absolutely no one’s business but the parents, period.

My usual response: “Why do you want to know?” This works well because it makes them think about what they consider a “nicety” and what it really implies. I’ve never had anyone answer this well.

“You shouldn’t be drinking/eating that.”

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BUZZ. OFF. Pregnancy is physically, mentally, and emotionally difficult as it is. No mom needs outsiders telling her what to do with her life. Unless you are her OB, what she puts in her body is none of your business. Also, the common knowledge on what is ok and what should be limited is often extremely outdated. Yes, pregnant women can have caffeine (up to 250 mg per day), sushi (cooked), and lunch meat (microwaved). You’re making an awful lot of assumptions if you feel you need to warn a pregnant woman about what pregnancy entails - that she’s uneducated, that she doesn’t take her health or the baby’s health seriously, or that you’re an expert in obstetric care. Just a general piece of advice: don’t get between a pregnant lady and her food.

My usual response: “Did I ask you for permission?” Plain and simple - assertive without being rude. It’s a reminder that no adult has the right to police another adult unless said adult is harming themselves or others.

Maybe, like me, you've remembered a few times you might have said something inconsiderate to a pregnant person. I've learned a good general rule of thumb: if you wouldn't say it to a non-pregnant person, it's also off-limits when you're speaking to pregnant women. Maybe you've been on the receiving end of a few of these "accidental" jabs. Hopefully you feel brave enough to borrow a few of these comebakcs the next time someone opens their big mouth and sticks their foot in it.

 

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