Pregnancy can be a joyful time, one of excitement and anticipation as we prepare to welcome our own little miracles into the world. But pregnancy is also a challenging time of sleep loss, strange eating habits, sometimes embarrassing bodily functions, and roller-coaster emotions. Sometimes the very last thing pregnant ladies want to hear is exactly what friends, family and strangers at the grocery store choose to say to us. To make things a little easier, here are a few phrases to avoid—and one phrase guaranteed to make a pregnant woman’s day better.

photo: Xavier Mouton Photographie on Unsplash 

1. You look like you’re about ready to pop!
This expression isn’t only rude, but it’s kind of gross to think about. With the abundance of new stretch marks, the climbing numbers on the scale, and our desire (and right!) to eat whatever we want, the idea that a pregnant lady could pop doesn’t always seem too far-fetched. There are some days we already feel like we actually might pop, so if you could just hold that thought inside your head forever and not vocalize it, that would be great.

2. Are you carrying twins/triplets/a whole litter/some other clever something that indicates we are bigger than we are? (AKA Are you sure there’s only one in there?)
We get it, okay? We are bigger than we normally are, and clever you, you’ve noticed! And you’ve decided to comment on it. Thank you so much for your opinion and for feeling the freedom to voice it so openly. But there’s something you should know: We know we’re getting bigger and you have two choices. Choice one: Lie to us. “Wow, you’re already in your eighth month? I would never have guessed anything past month three!” or “My goodness! You’ve only got this tiny bump in the front and you haven’t gained an inch anywhere else!” We know you’re lying, but it’s the kind of feel-good-fib that we need you to pull from your pocket during this time of rapid weight gain. Or choice two: Say absolutely nothing at all. (Always a very safe bet.)

3. You look so tired.
So do you, but we didn’t feel like we had to say that to you, did we? Sorry, didn’t mean to snap. We haven’t slept in several weeks. Yes, we’re tired. The body pillow stopped working long ago in its quest to deliver comfort, and the ache in our backs that the heating pad simply cannot soothe kept us up for hours last night. And then we were up from 2-4 worrying if we had ordered the right car seat, if we did or didn’t believe in epidurals during delivery, if we had remembered to cover that last plug in the bathroom, and if we should have bought stock in Amazon before this month, when it seemed like a Prime package was arriving every day. Then, we had to get up and pee (again), then back to bed for more worrying before finally dragging ourselves to the shower to start our day. Then we had to go to work, or the gym, or our mother-in-law’s house, or a luncheon, or something that required effort and energy, and, most often, a smile on our faces. So yes, we look tired. Because we are very, very tired.

photo: Dave Cobb via Unsplash

4. Anything at all about breastfeeding.
Unless you’re our significant other, obstetrician, doula or lactation consultant, it’s none of your business. So don’t ask unless we bring it up first. Breastfeeding is a natural thing and it’s proven to be one of the most important things for baby, but some women struggle with it. And we don’t have to discuss it with you. And don’t ask us about it when the baby gets here either. Just let us do (or not do) our thing.

5. I bet you want to order pickles and ice cream.
Chances are, probably not. Just because it’s a stereotype doesn’t mean it applies to us. And our hormones are pretty raging right now, so a comment like that (meant in jest and good nature) might just be the thing that pushes us over the edge. We don’t know why; it’s just annoying. So don’t say it. If you think we actually want pickles and ice cream, then go get us some. Along with a box of Apple Jacks, a mango, and some fresh flowers. (Because we’re pregnant and we deserve to be brought flowers.)

6. What’s your birth plan?
Again, not your business unless you’re one of the aforementioned people. Pretty much, unless you’re going to be in the room, assume that information is off-limits to you unless we offer it up ourselves. We might be getting an epidural or we might be going au naturel. We might be waiting around for a week for a little person to finally decide to make an entrance, or we might be inducing (we’re busy, okay?). Whatever our plan is, it’s our business and none of yours.

photo: Jessie Holloway

7. You must be excited about being a stay-at-home-mom.
Again with the assumptions! Some women want to stay at home with their little ones for as long as they can; some have to go back to work; and some are excited to go back to work. Some women work from home and juggle both. Here’s all you need to know: It’s not 1950 anymore and a woman has the right to decide her next steps after baby arrives. And whatever she decides is a good decision, because it’s hers.

8. (After asking if it’s a boy or a girl) Are you going to try again for a girl/boy?
Why is it that some people are never satisfied? And can we please just finish growing this baby before we start talking about another one? You never know what we have gone through to be carrying this one, and maybe we would like to take some time to be able to be truly grateful for our currently growing little one. And what’s more, we may be completely satisfied with the boy or girl we are carrying, and we don’t have any intention of having another. Or maybe our hearts did fall a little when we cut into that gender-revealing cake and saw pink when we were hoping to see blue. Most likely, we’re just fine with whatever is coming our way, but with the swollen feet, pounding headache and weird body functions we’re currently experiencing, the last thing we want to think about right now is doing it all over again! Whatever it is that’s going on in our heads, it’s best to leave that subject alone.

photo: Herney via Pixabay

Stumped on what you should say to pregnant woman? There’s one thing that will always land right and keep your foot as far away from your mouth as humanly possible: “You’re doing a great job.”
It’s not easy to create a life (at least not for the mother), and carrying a baby gets harder and harder the larger we grow. Of course, we’re excited and grateful, but pregnancy is tough, and sometimes all we really need to hear are the words, “You’re doing a great job.” And you know what? Those five words are still going to be some of our favorite words to hear for the next 18 years (and beyond) as we navigate the crazy world of motherhood, so use them often.

Laura Holloway

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