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What Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

Updated on February 21, 2023
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I have been many things in life: a mother, a technical writer, a preschool storytime presenter, the wife of a brain tumor survivor.


Occasionally friends and strangers say the darndest things to me. And they should know better.

So how are you feeling?

The polite pregnant woman who grits "fine..." through her teeth has a 5-8 pound baby resting his head on her pubic bone, sciatic nerve, diaphragm, bladder, and colon. She probably hasn't had a good night's sleep in a month, what from all the late-night trips to the restroom and the lumbering adjustments in sleep position. If you do get a polite response to this question, just thank your lucky stars that you didn't have your head lopped off.

You're naming her Gertie? I had a gerbil by that name!

A once insipid discussion about baby names took a turn to the absurd when our children's nursery leader launched into a long speech about all the female dogs she named with the beginning letter "G". Now I will never, ever, name a girl child Gretchen or Gretta or Gertie.

Do you think you'll have any more children after this one?

Remember that the 9th month of pregnancy is like the 23rd mile in a 26-mile marathon that you know to be followed by an endurance bike ride. I personally had my sister-in-law visit with her 5 children during my 8th month. The only sane answer to this question is "are you kidding? I'm not only NOT going to have any more children, but I think I'll have a lobotomy too." This is a question that probably shouldn't be asked until the precious bundle of love is fully weaned and potty trained, and maybe not until after she goes to college. Remember, it's all in the timing.

How much longer?

The person who asks this question probably means to ask about the due date. But as someone who is a bit of a stickler for accuracy, I cringe every time I hear this question, and force myself not to say "Gee, let me get out my crystal ball!" or "Heck if I know!" Usually I manage to smile sweetly and say, "The baby's due on June 20th, but I'm SURE he will come early."

How did THAT happen?

A woman I know once asked me this question. She is a retired OB Nurse. I smiled at her sweetly and replied, "Oh, the usual way." I had so much fun repeating the story to my friends, I had to share with you too.

The usual way.
The usual way. | Source

What? You're pregnant?/But you don't LOOK 9 months pregnant!

In my ninth month, the topic of my pregnancy does occasionally surface, and complete strangers have repeatedly said this to me. Believe me, if by the 9th month a person doesn't look pregnant, it's not flattering to point it out. The baby's coming one way or another, and most pregnant women want some kind of recognition for their last month of discomfort and malcontent. The most obvious retort to this backward compliment is "You think I normally waddle?" or "I guess I was always just a little bit heavier in the middle." Come on! Pullease!

Can I touch your stomach?

My friend's husband just asked me this question. I give him points for asking. My answer: NOPE!

A much more intrusive, but similar incident occurred when I was out shopping for last-minute items for the impending bundle of joy. As my husband went to pay for our things at the checkout stand, I sat on a bench in the entryway. It was a very hot day and the long drive into town made me rather tired. I woman I'd never seen approached and asked "Oh, how far along are you? And, can I touch your stomach?"

As I was in the middle of responding, "I really don't feel comfortable with that," she reached out her hand and touched my belly anyway! I felt so angry and intruded upon!

If you are one of those people "who can't help yourself" or "don't see the harm," understand that the next person might not be so nice. I really wanted to slug her, but I didn't.

Are you buying THAT to feed a craving?

The insensitive male employee at the meat counter asked me if I was buying an 8 oz. bag of pepperoni to feed a pregnant craving, as he leered at my excessively large, pregnant tummy. I looked at him with exasperated disdain and responded in a measured and artificially patient voice, "No, that would be my husband's craving. He said that pizza just isn't pizza without pepperoni."

I didn't think he needed more explanation than this, but since my husband is now one of my biggest Hub fans, I need to explain that he offered to go to the store to get the pepperoni himself, but that meant I would have to hold down the fort at home, and I just didn't feel like doing THAT.

(At the Hospital) Can You Make it To the Second Floor?

I take pride in my own ability to perambulate. And just because I'm 9 months pregnant and at the hospital, that doesn't mean I'm there to deliver. Maybe I'm just feeling grouchy, but why do so many people assume that I'm there to have the baby? I still have 4 LONG weeks to go. Anyone have a good response to this?

Wow, You Sure Are Pregnant!...Um, I Mean, Wow, You Sure Look Great!

Ok boys and girls, listen up! If you say this to a pregant woman who took the time and effort to show up anywhere during their last few weeks of pregnancy, don't expect the lame save to do you any good. I didn't name names here, but featuring the stupid comment in an internet article is the least painful form of retribution I would expect the pregnant woman to seek. And gentlemen, let me reiterate, the pregnant woman is now in her rights to say "Wow, YOU sure are fat...I mean wow you look great." or "Wow, YOU sure look bald...erm, I mean, did you get your hair cut?" And IF, on the rare occasion this comment is instigated by a woman, "Wow, you look a bit pregnant too, are you gaining weight?" or "Wow, you sure are thin, are you anorexic?" Some people are blurters. I hope they're thick skinned as they expect hormonal pregnant women to be.


You Really Look Like You're About to Pop!

What am I? A tick?

OK, what really happened, is this guy asked me how I was feeling, and I responded "I feel like I'm about to pop!" I smiled good naturedly, but honestly I DO get a bit tired of having these conversations. Maybe I should have responded, I'm feeling great! After all, I've published 44 hubs in 3 months AND packed 20 boxes away in my home to prepare for my baby's arrival. I AM Superwoman, and my children love me! But I digress...

This fellow responded that he had been thinking about saying "You look like you're about to pop!" too, but thought better of the comment. I congratulated him for his wisdom, and suggested that it is ALWAYS better to let the pregnant woman make these comments to himself. He should limit himself to unintelligible grunting.

Wow, You Sure are Fat!

Someone who falls distinctly in the friends and family category recently visited and the first thing he said as he walked through the door of the hallowed halls of my home was "Wow, you sure are fat!"

As I reached out to give him a hug, I responded with "Yeah, well, I have an 8-lb baby in my stomach and she's coming out soon. What's your excuse?"

Fortunately, there is an end in sight to this pregnancy, and it is fast approaching. That's a good thing, because my sweet and patient reactions to people's comments have become curmudgeonly, and intensify with every day!

© 2008 Carolyn Augustine


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