What not to say to pregnant women, from 8 people that know
Whether it's about their weight or size
They say when you’re pregnant it is an empowering, beautiful phenomenon. Now, while I’m sure that’s true (whoever ‘they’ are), I’ve also heard from plenty of mothers that the nine-month period (and the years following) can also be pretty sh*tty and challenging.
Carrying a child involves many a sleepless night, tears over the most unusual of things (one mate told me she cried after looking at a blue paint swatch for too long in B&Q), incontinence, and back pain, to name but a few of the ugly symptoms.
And when you have what feels like a squirmy basketball bouncing up and down on your bladder, the last thing you want is for a stranger, friend or relative testing your mood with the stupidest questions and advice.
Whether it’s naivety, insensitivity, or plain stupidity, people can say the most ludicrous, insulting, and unfathomable things when you’re pregnant.
In light of Meghan Markle’s pregnancy announcement, we’ve rounded up a list of the worst things you can say to a women when they’re expecting:
Sarah, first child aged 41
I regularly had people asking if I was expecting my first child, presumably due to my age. I always felt like a young mum – I took six months off work and went backpacking when I was 39 – and continue to have a young outlook on life. As a result, their questioning definitely made me look at myself and wonder what impression I was giving people.
(Image used for representational purposes)
I also started to show around 7-8 weeks and I recall someone asking if I’d eaten a lot of pies. People frequently told me I looked as if I was having triplets which was so infuriating. Fortunately, I don’t offend easily and can take it on the chin, but it’s natural to gain a bit of weight during pregnancy.
Hazel, first child aged 40
I’m currently pregnant with my second child, aged 45, and still get asked: “Don’t you wish you’d had a baby when you were younger?” I just laugh. I couldn’t even look after myself 10 years ago, let alone a child.
In my early 30s, I was having the time of my life living in Sydney. When I hear the younger women in my NCT group giving me career advice about maternity leave, I think “I definitely win”. They’ll never get the opportunities I had at their age now they have children.
People try to make the most bizarre conversation with you when you’re pregnant. Today, a man in shop stopped to tell me: “Gosh, you’re massive! Are you sure there aren’t two in there?” Yes, I’m pretty sure.
I’ve also been asked whether I’m aware of the higher risks of down syndrome due to my age. Again, I know that and I don’t care.
The worst is when people ask me if I know what I’m having. I sometimes say ‘I hope a human baby’ or ‘a puppy’ just to watch their reactions. Everyone is so obsessed with knowing the gender of your baby and some even predict what you might have by the shape of your bump and whether you’re carrying high or low.
Averil, first child aged 35
‘During my second pregnancy, I decided to have Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) to detect birth defects and genetic diseases. I was 38-years-old and was aware that the risks do increase with age.
I told my friend about this and she replied: “Yes, we all have perfect babies, so odds are that someone out of the group is going to have a problem.” It was the tactlessness of her suggestion that shocked me the most. People often don’t realise the effect their comments can have on you.
Angela, first child aged 26
You should never ask women whether they want a boy or a girl. We don’t have a choice and it implies one gender might be preferable.
I loathe the idea that people might want one of each, as though they are collecting cruet sets. With one’s second child, it’s often assumed you want a boy if you already have a girl, which is so wrong. I was 30 when I had my second baby. I was thrilled to have two girls.
Lisa, first child aged 31
I have one baby, with my partner of 12 years. My partner is another woman and you have no idea how many stupid, insensitive things are said to one or other of us on an almost daily basis.
Firstly, despite it being the 21st century, all strangers assumed while I was pregnant that I was having a baby with a man. I don’t know how long it will be before this isn’t the first expectation.
If you do decide to let on that your partner is another woman, you open yourself up to one of two options: awkward silence or a barrage of personal questions that most of the time you’d rather not answer.
In many ways I think it was worse for my partner. As she didn’t carry our baby, there are people who don’t really understand her role as a mother. They see her involvement differently. I was the one who was constantly asked by friends how I was doing, or the one who got to swap pregnancy war stories and I even needed to remind myself that sometimes this was insensitive to her and that she was going through the process too.
My advice to people is just to be kind, or be joyful. Don’t pry or assume and know that it is just as big a deal for the person who didn’t physically carry the baby as the one who did.
Sonia, first child aged 32
Women who have had babies often feel a sense of catharsis when talking through their pregnancies, as if it’s a form of therapy. It’s worth pregnant women remembering that people aren’t always sharing information to give advice, rather to voice their own worries and traumas.
It definitely doesn’t help to advise new mums to sleep when the baby sleeps – believe me, they’ll be trying to do that. Some advice helps women, but we all have different bodies and experiences.
Katy, currently pregnant, aged 30
‘I decided to tell family and friends about being pregnant quite early on. I’d been trying for such a long time that I wanted the support of my loved ones. Some people cautioned me about it being too soon. I hate the idea that pregnancy in the early stage is a taboo just in case you miscarry, as if there’s a sense of shame attached to it. If that happens, I want people to know and to support me.
I’ve found that people often become an expert on your wellbeing when you’re pregnant, asking whether you should be eating certain foods or carrying things. It makes you feel like an invalid.
Likewise, people should never comment on the size or shape of a baby bump. Different people ‘pop’ at different times and carry differently. During pregnancy, you’ll be constantly stressed about how big your bump is, problems at birth, how the foetus is developing etc. You don’t need someone triggering even more worries.
Jayne, currently pregnant, aged 27
‘Having your weight or size discussed is always a sensitive issue, regardless of your gender. Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to be with being described as ‘big’ or ‘small’.
Someone asking what I plan to name my child is also infuriating. Names are quite a personal aspect of pregnancy and people often think it’s okay to comment on your decision, which can immediately sway your opinion. For example, if someone tells me ‘that’s the name I want for my daughter if I have one’, it makes me feel like I can’t use it.
Another thing I hate is people thinking they can touch your stomach without asking. I find it intrusive, especially if it’s not a family member or close friend.
People forget that, especially for a first-time mum, your body is undergoing so many changes that you’re slowly adapting to yourself. I’ve even had people commenting on how my boobs have grown. It can feel incredibly intrusive.
From: ELLE UK