What NOT to say to a pregnant woman

7 months belly

Please don’t ask

This sounds so cliche, I never thought I would be compelled to write about it. But having been on the receiving end of a half dozen rude comments changed my mind. I’m working at a Fortune 100 company this pregnancy, and assumed a certain level of professionalism from my coworkers. I had no idea that so many women were clueless about preggo etiquette.

I say “women” because men have been for the most part silent, or at least fairly innocent in their comments to me. All of the interactions I mention in this post were from strangers, by the way. I know that it’s considered impolite to ever speak to a stranger about her pregnancy, but honestly I don’t mind. I’m happy to be pregnant and fascinated by the changes to my body. It doesn’t bother me to discuss my new baby in an elevator on the way into work. Yet I am shocked by some of the things that have come out of people’s mouths, especially from fellow moms. This mostly started in December, when I was about 6 months pregnant.

When are you due?

This is by far the most common opener, and not in itself offensive to me. If I weren’t pregnant, that would be another story. A couple of brave souls asked if I were expecting back when I first started to show, which is a much more dangerous question to ask a woman with a small, rounded belly. Sometimes I’ve been startled into giving my actual due date, but usually just answer March. Now to me, the proper follow-up from the stranger should be “Congratulations!” End of interaction. Here are some of the responses I’ve gotten:

Jaw drops open, “Wow, you’re so big!” Am I actually supposed to smooth over the awkward silence here? Are you kidding me?

Gape at my belly and think of nothing else to say. Try congratulations! Or you look great!

“Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?” Yes, it’s a boy. Try saying, congratulations! Instead of stammering into silence because you didn’t actually care what the sex of my baby is. Or you could just keep your mouth shut to begin with.

“It’s a girl, right?” Because my ass looks so big? WTF kind of question is that? No, it’s a boy. I get an awkward look and silence. Jeez!

Alternate version of when are you due?

“So, when’s the big day?” What the hell kind of question is that? Have you ever heard of someone not planning a C-section knowing on which day her baby will be born?

None of this ever happened to me when I was pregnant with Hugo. I have to believe it had something to do with working on an Army base, that my coworkers were generally more polite. And no stranger has ever touched my belly in this pregnancy or my first one. I have no idea how I would react, but it wouldn’t be pretty.

The worst offender so far was a mom of two who visited me in the hospital not 10 hours after Hugo was born, who took one look at me and said “I thought you already had the baby!” Ah, thanks. You look really svelte, too.

Has anyone ever said anything completely rude to you when you were pregnant? Please share.

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26 thoughts on “What NOT to say to a pregnant woman

  1. During my second pregnancy, my coworker (mother of 3) said she had talked to her husband over dinner the night before and mentioned she “couldn’t believe how big I was already.” Really? Over her dinner table?

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  2. I’ll never forget some of the things people said to me, and yet I’ve been known to have totally epic lapses of judgement myself. One time, I asked a woman when she was due and I’ll NEVER DO IT AGAIN! She wasn’t pregnant (although she was talking to another woman about her “baby kicking” at that moment, so I assumed she was!) Ugh, it was a real palm to face situation, made even worse because I’ve been on the receiving end of those comments. Thanks for the post 🙂 http://www.pottymouthedmommyblog.com

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  3. You have no idea! When I was pregnant with the twins I was told by several people “oh, you must be due any day now” starting when I was only FIVE months pregnant. One lady saw me at work and actually told me I should get to the hospital because I looked like I was about to deliver. Then, when I would say its twins, random strangers ask you all kinds of rude questions like “are they natural”. No! My kids are unnatural. I think they mean are they “spontaneous” which is the proper term, and in any case NONE of their business. How would they feel if someone walked up to them and started asking them about their sex life. At the time I was so elated to be pregnant I took it all (and still take it) in stride. I think people mean well, they just don’t think before they open their mouths. Nice post.

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      • Oh there are so many I could have said LOL. You know how many people told me I shouldn’t be working when they would see me (I worked until almost 36 weeks when I was measuring about 50 weeks). I finally got a button for my jacket that said Its Twins! After a cashier was worried I was going to go in labour while standing in line. Haha. You know though, I am one of those people who always guesses the gender (usually right too) and I never realized it might bother people so your post did give me something to think about.

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      • Thanks! I probably would have gone to 40 weeks but since term for twins is 38 they don’t let you go past 39 so I was induced at 38+4 (I got my vaginal delivery I wanted 🙂

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  4. I remember I was about 5 months pregnant and waiting for a bus on Lexington Avenue. It was the spring time so my belly was exposed. A crazy guy walked up to me and shouted at me – Man! You are PREGNANT! Wow!

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  5. You know, none of that every bothered me…except one time a clerk at the store asked me if the turkey timer had popped out yet. I’m wondering if he was referring to my belly button? Who knows…

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  6. This is hilarious! Big ass = girl??? I understand about how you feel with people who are not sensitive. I sometimes just brushed it off and comfort myself that they ran out with preggy vocabulary and phrases. However, I dislike those who share horror stories with me on their preggy period. It freaked me out and I just turned off my ears and continuing walking if I were standing, just cut the conversation short.

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  7. Now that I’ve gone through a pregnancy, I usually go with “wow, you look really good” instead of “you’re so big” or “you’re tiny” and I truly mean it, most pregnant women look great.

    I actually didn’t care about the pregnancy questions. I couldn’t help but chuckle when people asked me if I was expecting a boy or a girl and I would tell them that I didn’t know. Their reaction was always predictable and priceless: “but how are you going to decorate the nursery?”. Lol.

    What I did mind was people asking me if I was going to breastfeed or not. I knew I wanted to, but seriously, how is it any of their business. The important part is that the baby is loved and fed, right?

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    • Yes that’s a pretty intrusive question. The most I’ve been asked by strangers is whether it is my first, and how old is my other child. If someone is really interested, I like chatting about childcare options to other moms at work. Always looking for new ideas

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  8. I had a woman this weekend tell me that the baby must be really big already because my tummy was really big for only being seven months.

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  9. The day before I went on maternity leave, one of my co-workers said, “Fess up, you’re having twins, right? I mean, you wouldn’t be so fat if you weren’t!”

    Though, to be fair, Jack DID weigh 10 lbs at birth…

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  10. I’m sure they did but I don’t remember. I guess post-baby fuzziness/lack of sleep wiped it all from my memory! Hope you don’t get many more! Or if you do, have a stack of witty replies to hurl back at them 😉

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  11. OMG some people are just plain weird. I always hated the “Are you sure you don’t have twins in there” comment. Really? Ah no I’ve just had all my scans and they missed the second heartbeat every time you fruitcake. So thanks for calling me MASSIVE.

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