How not to talk to pregnant women; a handy guide

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The complete nonsense that comes out of people’s mouths when faced with a pregnant woman never ceases to amaze me. It’s like the addition of a bump to a conversation means all common sense flies out of the window and creates an open season on ridiculous comments, where nothing is too personal and no body part off limits.

I’m not talking about friends, who can say anything, or your mum, who probably already has. But about most other people. And some of the random things they say.

Luckily for me, I live in London, where people would rather stab themselves in the foot with a fork than make some kind of chat. But still, some of the things I have heard from virtual strangers…

So; not sure what to say before opening your mouth to someone you barely know who is bumped up to the max? Here’s a guide, from the good, to the very, very bad. With some likely responses (although, as most people are polite enough to laugh them off, these are likely to go unspoken. Unless said pregnant lady is having a really hormonal day).

From the perfectly acceptable…

You have a very neat bump
I have no idea what this even means, but it seems to be one of the pregnancy holy grail compliments. It sidesteps all size issues, and just sounds pretty ordered and desirable.

You’re glowing!
Thanks! (Especially good if you know you’re actually green / grey / ghostly faced after being sick all morning. Or just overheating slightly).

Your hair looks great
You can’t go wrong with this one.

…to the slightly more shaky ground…

You look tired
That’s because I am tired, as I’ve been up for most of the night making loo trip after loo trip, my toddler woke up at 5am, I don’t get a nap or to sit down, etc etc, and I have eye bags that even 20 minutes of concealing can’t hide. Oh and thanks. Bet you wish you hadn’t pointed it out now.

You must be tired
Yes, see above.

*I’M* so tired because I was out last night drinking cocktails / went to a club on a school night / was out for amazingly long, winey dinner
My heart bleeds for you.

You look tiny
Tricky one, this. Although it’s a desirable response in most social situations, in pregnancy it’s on dodgy ground. You don’t look pregnant = are you pregnant? / are you having a baby at all / fraud! And what if there’s actually a growth problem with the baby – you can’t be sure, can you? I got this daily past time, right up until about 30 weeks, and then I got…

You look HUGE!
You feel huge. You don’t need anyone pointing it out. This plays on all your insecurities, even though you know you are not fat but pregnant. Avoid at all costs!

Your bump looks high / low / wide…you must be carrying a boy / girl etc
Oh right, really?

Two children? You’ll have your hands full
As I said, empathetic, slightly sugar-coated reality is fine, but outright negativity is not (see also: are you worried about the pain of childbirth?)

…to the very worst (avoid at ALL COSTS)

Were you trying?
Think about this for a second…it either means ‘were you deliberately having sex in order to conceive’ or ‘was this baby an accident?’ Both are basically the same; asking someone about their sex life. Which I’m happy to talk about at length to friends and in the right – drunken – circumstances, but not in the middle of a client meeting (as I was when asked first-time round. Really).

You look huge, are you sure it’s not twins in there?
I’ve never actually got this one – thank goodness – but have seen many a Facebook friend tearfully write that some random in the street has said it to them. Why would you say it (unless you know there are twins? Even then, just say a) neat bump b) good hair c) glow).

Don’t you think pregnant women are slightly too sensitive? I’m only making a passing comment / trying to be nice / making chit chat
No.

Can I touch the bump?
NO. Although, at least you asked.

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32 Comments

  1. July 15, 2014 / 7:37 am

    Haha! I use the “neat bump” i like it as it feels inoffensive (not to personal) though I did have a friend turn to me yesterday and ask “does that mean your bump is untidy?” to which I wasn’t sure how to respond and as she’s 3weeks ahead of me I decided to not reply! People seem to be in the stage of just reaching out to touch my bump atm… and I jump away at the speed of light – personal space people!! Love it x

    • gillian
      July 17, 2014 / 12:21 pm

      You need some kind of invisible ‘don’t come anywhere in this perimeter’ sign! Hope you and your neat bump 😉 are good and not too hot…

  2. July 15, 2014 / 9:01 am

    This is brilliant! I’d forgotten all about these questions…were you trying though? 😉

    I love the image too! Xxx

    • gillian
      July 17, 2014 / 12:20 pm

      Hehe! And thank you. Happyland people do have other uses apart from tripping you up underfoot 🙂 x

  3. July 15, 2014 / 11:37 am

    People are awful around pregnant women. I was actually furious from the moment my bump appeared. When I was around six months, I started getting “Wow, you must be due any day now!” and it continued for three whole months until I eventually pushed out my massive baby :'(

    I also got ‘Was it planned?’ a lot.

    I think someone told me my hair looked good once, but I assumed they meant my (pretty much) beard so I cried anyway.

    • gillian
      July 17, 2014 / 12:20 pm

      Was it planned is AWFUL! You should have replied with ‘no, you know, drunken night over the summer.’ What do people expect you to say? 🙂 x

  4. July 15, 2014 / 12:55 pm

    hehe…. people do say stupid things…. especially when you’re expecting your fourth :/ Someone told me we should watch more TV the other day – their face when I replied that we don’t actually have TV was fab! ha!!

    • gillian
      July 17, 2014 / 12:18 pm

      Classic! I bet there’s a whole other post of ‘ridiculous things people say when they’re expecting their fourth’…

  5. July 15, 2014 / 5:59 pm

    It really does make people feel like they can say things that would be completely inappropriate normally! I hated the neat bump one, got that a lot! x

    • gillian
      July 17, 2014 / 12:17 pm

      What does it even mean?! Do people have ‘untidy’ bumps? 🙂 x

  6. July 15, 2014 / 8:00 pm

    Mate. I’m such a bump toucher. I am also a lean in and talk loudly to the bump weirdo. And that’s after giving birth myself. Feel free to banish me.

    • gillian
      July 17, 2014 / 12:16 pm

      If I see you (which would be brilliant) I would LOVE for you to touch me up. So to speak. And feel free you speak to the bump. It’s just when it’s complete random’s that it’s a bit…odd x

    • gillian
      July 17, 2014 / 12:17 pm

      If I see you (which would be brilliant) I would LOVE for you to touch me up. So to speak. And feel free you speak to the bump. It’s just when it’s complete randoms that it’s a bit…odd x

  7. July 15, 2014 / 11:11 pm

    I got the twin one all the time in the early part of my second pregnancy – to the point where I started getting paranoid that it might be twins and one was missed! Then I got the small comments in the latter part which was equally not fun – especially since there were minor concerns about growth!

    • gillian
      July 17, 2014 / 12:15 pm

      I bet you really loved that 🙁 It is such an odd thing to say; people would never make those sort of comments about anything else, would they? x

  8. July 16, 2014 / 12:35 pm

    I do feel awkward around someone who is pregnant because i don’t know what to say. Most of the time i will say congrats or ask how long they are.

    This is actually a great post – a guide for those who are not pregnant.

    Much love,

    Lauren Nicole O’Hara

    • gillian
      July 17, 2014 / 12:14 pm

      Oh god, hope I haven’t scared you off – sorry! ‘How are you doing’ is always a good neutral one – but expect a long response about various aches aches and pains 🙂 x

  9. loubo
    July 17, 2014 / 12:56 pm

    A barista in the coffee shop near work asked “was it planned” after I had to justify to him why I was ordering a decaf – doubly rude! I felt quite offended and wanted to say “no I just got unlucky after a one night stand…”

  10. July 17, 2014 / 10:10 pm

    I love these; I’ve had most of them, but especially the you must be due any day now, and the you’re huge ones – since I was about 6 months! I was getting a bit worried when even the hospital’s receptionist asked me whether it was twins until she apologised to someone else for asking and explained that she has to ask to book the scans – phew!

  11. July 19, 2014 / 12:12 pm

    Haha, This made me chuckle!! Even though i’m totally with you on ALL points, I have verbal diarrhoea…so even i could be at risk of saying something daft to a preggers friend. But they’re a friend, so they are welcome to give me a slap/ tell me to shut up 🙂 I’d never dare say any of these to a stranger…but i live in London=lots of fork stab wounds in my feet lol xx

  12. July 20, 2014 / 4:50 pm

    Some people do say the strangest and unacceptable things – I just don’t get it. My worst pet hate was anyone touching my bump -just made me cringe and feel so uncomfortable – I was only happy with John touching it, not even my mother – and when strangers think it’s okay I wanted to punch them (not to sound over the top but just think its an infringement of ones space)

    Laura x

  13. Emma
    July 23, 2014 / 10:52 am

    I’m 29 weeks and have recently discovered how people just CANNOT help but patronise and make huge sweeping assumptions. Comments like:
    “12 more weeks? It looks like you’ll be popping it out sooner than that!” (um, thanks…)
    “You’re eating a bit healthily, aren’t you?” (yes, just to spite you really, nothing to do with nourishing an unborn child)
    “Was it planned?” (classic)
    “That’s going to be a whopper. Get the olive oil ready!” (yes, someone actually said this.)

    And the one that somehow makes me maddest of all:
    “You’ve got all this to come!” (almost daily, every time anyone mentions anything about another baby)

  14. July 29, 2014 / 7:32 am

    Thanks for sharing this with the blog carnival. I have had most of these a some point during my 3 pregnancies!

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