How not to talk to pregnant women; a handy guide
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.
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
Can I touch the bump?
NO. Although, at least you asked.