It’s amazing how your pregnancy can make everyone you meet completely lose their filters. Doula Donna Bland runs through the most common things you’re likely to hear.
What is it about pregnancy that makes people think it’s okay to ask wird personal questions and give free advice? Most of this information comes from well-meaning friends and family, but for a pregnant woman, these remarks or questions can cause anxiety and even fear.
Here are 10 things you shouldn’t say to a pregnant woman:
Even if the couple has been trying to fall pregnant for some time, they may still be wary of the fact that they have a long road ahead. Perhaps this is the last opportunity for them to have a baby, or maybe they’re unsure about whether the mom will be able to carry the baby full term. Chances are you don’t know everything about their journey, so the only appropriate response to their news is, “Congratulations!”
- “You’re huge! You look like you’re about to burst!”
Pregnant women are often self-conscious of their appearance and can’t even perform simple tasks like tying their shoe laces or picking up something off the floor. They are also dealing with a body flooded with pregnancy hormones and this can make them feel more emotional than usual. The last thing that need to hear is how big they look. If you wouldn’t say something to a non-pregnant person, chances are it’s not going to go down well here either.
- “Can I touch your belly?”
Again, you’d never ask someone who isn’t pregnancy if you can touch them. Pregnant women are just as entitled to personal space, and to not having other people feeling them up.
- “Wow! You still have eight weeks to go!”
Look, she knows exactly how much longer she has to go. She knows she can’t go half an hour without a pitstop to the loo and that she can’t roll over in bed. Pregnancy seems like a lifetime when you’re going through it, so there’s no need for reminders.
- You know ___________ is bad for the baby.” (insert the list……)
Raw eggs, sushi, coffee, chocolate, hair dye, cough mixture, eating pineapple, exercising/not exercising … and so the list goes on. Don’t make a woman think she’s a horrible/bad mother because she had a cup of morning coffee. No one is a perfect parent, and if she needs that cup of coffee that day, let her enjoy it!
- “Let me tell you about my 57-hour labour,” or “Since breastfeeding my son my boobs have never been the same.”
Why would anyone tell a pregnant woman their horror stories? There is so much fear of the unknown during pregnancy, that every story can have an impact on a mom’s decision making about her birth or whether to breastfeed. In fact, it can cause so much anxiety that women feel crippled by the fear. Fear in birth and going into parenthood can be devastating to these processes. If you don’t have a good story to tell, perhaps bite your lip.
- “You look so tired/uncomfortable/swollen.”
Not all woman ‘glow’ during pregnancy. In fact, some women really dislike being pregnant. Maybe she is tired/uncomfortable/swollen. One thing’s for sure, she doesn’t need reminding. Do something nice for her or offer to help her with something. It may just be the pick-me-up she needs to get her through the day.
- “Sleep as much as you can now: it’ll be years before you sleep through the night again.”
When a couple decide to have a baby, they are aware that their lives are going to change and that caring for a newborn will include less sleep than they’re used to. What they hear when this comment is made is, “Your life will never be yours again ‒enjoy it while you can”. Having a baby is life-changing, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges.
- “You’re still pregnant?”
This is probably one of the worst questions a heavily pregnant woman can be asked, especially if her due date has already come and gone. Constantly getting messages and phone calls asking if you’ve had your baby yet can make you feel like your baby will never be born. It just adds anxiety to an already frustrating situation. Trust me, you will be told when the baby has arrived.
- Will you still be working?
This is a very difficult subject for a lot of moms. Many women would like the option of staying home for an extended period to be with their babies, but the reality today is that very few women can. Knowing that you will have to leave your four-month-old baby with a caregiver is scary and heart-breaking enough without being given a guilt trip.
Instead of asking a pregnant woman embarrassing and highly personal questions, and giving unsolicited advice, try being encouraging. Regardless of whether it would be your choice, this is her journey. Let her make her own decisions and try to be supportive of her choices. Build her up. Pregnancy, birth and motherhood are scary enough without being made to feel like you won’t make a good mom.