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Five Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

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We are a week away from our anticipated delivery date and I’ve started to turn introspective. I’m mentally circling the wagons and taking stock of what needs to happen.

  • The kiddo’s future room is basically done.
  • I worked my last day at work yesterday.
  • The car seat, grab and go bag, and big birthing exercise ball are all in the car.

At this point, I just need to have this baby.

As a result of all of this mental preparation and gazing at my non-existent navel (seriously, where did it go?) I’ve spent some time compiling a list of things you shouldn’t tell a pregnant woman.

Other than the whole crazy wonderful process of being an incubator for a new person I think the other thing I was most unprepared for, was the way that people talk to pregnant women and the things that others suddenly feel are acceptable to say.

So this is my personal top five of things you shouldn’t say to a pregnant woman.

1.  “You don’t look that pregnant.”

I get this one a lot. From cashiers at the grocery store to peripheral co-workers, folks seem to have an assessment of what 25 weeks pregnant looks  like, versus 35 weeks pregnant. Of course they mean no harm. In fact, it’s probably intended as a compliment about how your body really hasn’t changed that much at all. But unless you personally know that woman and her own pregnancy adventure, just don’t say it out loud.

What if this was my first successful pregnancy? What if I’d miscarried previously and being “this pregnant” was the most pregnant I’ve ever been? In any of those circumstances, looking “this pregnant” would be something I wouldn’t take for granted and idle comments about my size would be hurtful.

2.  “Do X while you still can.”

Replace X with any of the following:

    • Sleep
    • Travel
    • Go out and have a good time.
    • Enjoy one another’s company.

To which I feel it necessary to point out:

  • Physically, sleep is uncomfortable when you can only comfortably lie on your left side.
  • Traveling will be more difficult but not impossible with a little person in tow.
  • Our idea of going out is walking to the library on the weekend so baby really won’t be such a game changer there.
  • It makes me sad to think that partners can’t enjoy being together when there’s a little person involved too.

This quip often comes from people who have children and they seem to think they are dispensing useful advice. A more helpful thing to say would be to share how you both juggled being married and having a new little person. Or, to the single parent, suggestions on how to build their tribe of trusted extended family in order to help that strong individual who does not have live-in help.

3.  “Your husband probably wants a boy, doesn’t he?”

Mr. Pirate was really upset when I told him about this one. We opted not to find out baby’s sex because for us, it doesn’t matter. No matter what color we paint the baby’s room, we both want this little person in our lives.  I’m the mechanic with the pink toolbox for pity’s sake. If Mr. Pirate were the sort of man who wanted his first child to be male so that he could better relate to him, I don’t think he’d be the sort of man who I would have wanted to marry.

I respect other people’s decision for wanting to know baby’s sex, and I will admit it has made shopping for clothing a bit of a challenge since so much of what’s out there is gendered, but that’s it. You can’t put it back if we don’t like it, so you might as well accept that fact early and overcome any prejudices you have about one sex or the other.

4.  [Insert pregnancy/labor/birth/random horror story here]

Oh look! You have a belly! Let me tell you about the time that my wife’s cousin’s sister’s third-best friend had a really difficult delivery and nearly died.

No. Just no.

That is not how you make conversation. You do not approach a war veteran who lost his or her leg below the knee and make jokes about how much he or she must save on shoes now. Likewise, you don’t relate to someone who is pregnant by telling her about the absolute worst possible thing that could happen. Trust me. She’s already thought about it. A lot.

5.  “Oh, you won’t want to go back to work.”

I am extremely fortunate in the fact that my supervisor was able to work with me and find ways of adjusting my workload so that I could continue to be a part of his team throughout my pregnancy. I really like where I work and I take a great deal of pride in what I do. Having a baby doesn’t change that.

I’ll take as much of my maternity leave as I feel I need and then we’ll find a daycare solution and we’ll make it work for our family. The sad part about this one is that no one seems to care that Mr. Pirate only has one week of paternity leave available to him. An extra one if he takes vacation too.

Dads receive a fair bit of public criticism for not being present in their children’s lives, and as a society, we’re not helping. He will have just as much of an adjustment to make with a new little person in his life as I will. He just won’t have after-birth pains to deal with.

Now I’m curious though. What are some things that other women were told while pregnant that they found unpleasant or completely bizarre?



About Amanda C.

Often described as "busy," Amanda C. is a mechanic with a B.A. in English; a mom who is doing OK; and a do-it-yourselfer who is sometimes clueless. She is also obsessed with roller derby.

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