Because it’s my second go around with this whole pregnancy thing, I feel like I’m nearing expert status in terms of pregnancy etiquette. For those of you with three children? You’re the sensei masters of the pregnancy world. For those of you with more than three kids? Well, you’re just crazy.
I’ll be honest here – I’ve known since before I was pregnant that my potential for embracing this time in my life was minimal. And I feel shitty about that, because I know women out there who would love nothing more than to BE pregnant. I recognize my privilege. I really do. AND, it still doesn’t make my truth any less…well…truthful. I hate being pregnant.
So maybe that makes me extra sensitive to the idiotic things people say to pregnant women. Let me use this heightened sense of awareness, then, for something good. Let me tell you all the dumb things you’ve likely said or done to pregnant (or worse, NOT pregnant) women.
- “You look amazing!”
Similar to the compliments we give people when they’ve LOST weight, we have to consider what one might truly mean by “amazing” when we’ve got an extra 30 lb wrecking ball protruding from our midsection.
When someone has lost 30 lbs, being overzealous in our “YOU LOOK AMAZING” can feel off color for a variety of reasons. Maybe they feel like they looked amazing before? Or… maybe they have cancer. You just don’t know. I’d argue that it’s best to avoid the topic of weight all together…unless of course, said subject in question is one of those individuals who feels the need to tell their entire social network each and every time they go to the gym/paddleboard/run/hike or do anything even remotely active while hashtagging something like #fitspiration, #sweatequity or #fitspo. In which case, publically flogging them would seem to be a more acceptable interaction. Because that’s really effing annoying.
Similarly, telling someone who is clearly packing ON an extra 30 lbs – even if it’s very clearly from a pregnancy – feels…well, pretty effing disingenuous. “But it’s the hair! And the skin! You’re glowing!” Great. That’s my really smart body trying to distract you from my large midsection, my troll feet, and the fact that I’m heavy breathing…even when I’m not moving.
- “You don’t even look pregnant!”
Warning, warning. You’ve entered the danger zone. Step away from the pregnant lady.
I get it! This one’s tricky. It feels like it should be the ultimate compliment. But trust me when I say YOU ARE NOT THINKING THIS THROUGH. If you were 30 lbs heavier, and 7 months pregnant, and someone said, “You’re PREGNANT? Gosh, I couldn’t even TELL…” Well, I’m just gonna leave that right there and let you think about it for a few seconds.
Saying something this stupid will either result in said pregnant subject dubbing you as the least observant person in the universe, OR she’ll just feel incredibly hurt that you think she looks 7 months pregnant ALL THE TIME. Not helpful.
- “Are you pregnant?” (Or any variation therein.)
Don’t. Ever. Ask. This. Ever. Please. Just. Stop.
- “Oh shoot, you’re pregnant, so I guess you can’t eat [insert thing you were just about to pour yourself a glass of or consume with the vigor of the hulk].”
This is a safer statement among first time pregnant moms because they typically follow the rules more than most, but it’s best to avoid it all together. Listen, if pregnant women were to fully avoid every single thing on the “NO EAT/DRINK” list, we would be limited to organic root vegetables grown only by a Chinese monk, from a garden in our own backyard. Basically we would starve.
Most women know which foods they’re comfortable “risking” it with, but it varies from person to person. If I’m about to lay into some queso dip and you consciously block me with some comment like “Do they say you can eat soft cheese while pregnant now?”…I might just cry.
I’m a crabby pregnant woman. Try me pregnant and without caffeine. You would not survive. No one would. I drink coffee for your safety. Be thankful. And be quiet.
- “Please sit here and listen to my story about that time I gave birth to a child and my body split in two.”
There’s something about being pregnant that makes most other women within a half a mile radius want to share every thing that ever went wrong in their pregnancy. Perhaps it’s an attempt to commiserate. Perhaps it’s a one up strategy. Either way, it’s sort of the opposite of helpful.
So what can you say? In the wise and high pitched words of Alison Krause, “You say it best when you say nothing at all.”
That said, when in doubt, I offer you this full and complete list of safe things to say to any woman, especially pregnant ones:
- Would you like a cookie?
Feature image via Flickr