By: Alicia Arseneault
What Not To Say To Pregnant Women
I’ve been around this block a few times. I’ve had the “bigger-than-normal belly” five times now, and it seems as if acts like a “homing beacon” to family and strangers alike to haphazardly offer their opinions and very blunt advice on my pregnancy, number of children, and when it’s time to stop procreating.
Prior to writing this I asked my Facebook family and friends (specifically women who’ve had children) to share their WORST, UNWELCOMED, and just plain RUDE things people have said to them when they were pregnant. With their answers, and my own experiences, I decided to compile a list which I am so eloquently titling: “Top 10 Things Not To Say (or Do) To Pregnant Women”
So here they are from the least of the worst to the worst of the worst….
#10. – “I was in labor for 14 days in the middle of a snowstorm and was forced to give birth on the back of a donkey!”
Ladies, I realize we like to compare stories and we all like to come out as the champion, with the smartest child, and with the best parenting but please keep your horrible and scary labor stories to yourself. These nightmarish stories can be especially terrifying to a first-time mother. If faced with a first-time mother who looks terrified at the prospect of giving birth and is seeking your experience with labor and delivery, try and offer her comfort instead of your apocalyptic stories. You can be honest without all the gory details, and most importantly remember to share the fact that as soon as it’s over you are blessed with the fruit of your labor (literally!)
#9. – “Do you know what you’re having? (followed by a negative comment about that sex)”
“Too bad it’s not a girl/boy this time eh?”, “Boys are a handful!”, “Well maybe it’ll be a girl/boy after all, those ultrasounds things are never 100%”, etc… Whether you, or maybe even Mom and Dad, thinks that a gender other than what’s currently on its way would have been preferred, now is not the time to offer your opinion. Remember to be supportive and encouraging about the forthcoming bundle of joy regardless of its sex.
#8 – “Are you trying to start your own TV show?”
Can I get an “Amen!” from the Moms out there with more than 3 children?! I got, and still get, this question a lot! Just because I enjoy having many children, and may even desire to have more children, it does not mean that I have ambitions of stardom or of keeping up with the Duggars or Kate Gosslin. Yes, I have four children, yes it’s a lot of work, yes it’s expensive, but I am also richly blessed by my growing family.
#7 – “Just you wait until…..”
“… they start talking!”, “…they’re teenagers”, “…they come out!”, “…they start asking for your credit card!” – What’s with the impending doom on motherhood these days? And why are we trying to discourage first-time mothers? Do the people who say these things hate their children or their years raising children? I’m often left asking “do they even have children?” Because how can people only focus on the negatives? There are abundantly more positives out of raising children than negatives. Children are a blessing and are something worth celebrating and sharing stories of joys with the soon-to-be moms and dads.
#6 & #5 – A TIE “Were you trying to get pregnant?” and “Was this an oops?”
First and foremost, this is none of anyone’s business. Whether or not they were “trying” or this was an “accident” it should NEVER be a question you ask ANYONE – EVER! End of discussion.
#4 – “So does hubby have his appointment with “Mr. Snip” yet?”
Again, this is not a question you should be asking! It doesn’t matter if you are grandma, grandpa, sister, best friend, or fellow grocery shopper (yes, I experienced this), this is none of your business. Most couples openly discuss this subject with their close family and friends but if it’s an unknown and you’re still curious if the couple is “done”, there are more tactful ways of approaching this question such as: “Do you think you’ll have more?”, or “So, is little John/Jane ever going to be a big brother/sister someday?”
#3 – “Are you sure you’re not having twins? You’re sooooo big!”
This is a quick way to get the stare of death (or a black eye) from an already exhausted and hormonal woman. After a few “big as a house” comments from people, I have given my husband the advice to always compliment a pregnant woman. We need to realize that most women don’t have the Heidi Klum figure through their pregnancy. Some women “blossom” quicker and larger than others. Either way, if you happen to notice that a particular pregnant woman is larger than you (and all your pregnancy experience) think she should be , keep quiet about it and find something else to say. Ask very obvious questions just don’t ever comment on her figure. A few suggestions for the tongue-tied: “Are you excited?”, “How are you feeling?”, “Have you picked out any names yet? (ps. don’t expect an answer to this question)”
#2 – The “BABY BELLY” if off-limits without an invitation!
I am going to take a risk here by stating the obvious – that belly you just touched is attached to me! A pregnant belly does not become public property once it reaches a certain girth. Pregnant women should never feel bad for saying “No, thank you” or intercepting an unwanted belly touch. People who feel the desire to touch the bellies of pregnant women need to exercise restraint! That belly is a part of that woman’s body and should not be touched unless you’ve been invited to do so. Often times, invitations will come when the mom-to-be feels the baby moving and wants to share the experience with another person.
#1 – (and my personal favourite) “You know how that (pregnancy) happens right?”
This seemed to be most frequently experienced incredibly rude thing people in my survey had said to them. Granted, many of my friends have large (2 or more) children. But I ask, when did larger families because so offensive that meddlesome Border Customs Officers feel the need to quip about the amount of passports I hand them with insulting comments such as that? Thankfully, self-control has restrained my tongue on more than one occasion because I have deeply wanted to say “Actually, no. Care to enlighten me?” Our society seems to have a “maximum two-kid” mentality. Large families are not for everyone but that doesn’t mean that smaller families should be either. We should be able to respect the choices and decisions others choose to make about their family-size regardless of how “out-of-the-norm”, or how “not-for-us” it is. So if you are that person who has stepped out of line and said this to a pregnant woman before – take notice, it’s not funny or clever, it’s unanimously rude.
In closing, one thing I feel is really important to share is that many women shared that these comments did not come from just anyone. A lot of these comments came from the people who were closest to them and as such, it was deeply painful for them. One person in particular shared that an “enough was enough and getting “snipped” should be booked yesterday” sort-of-comment came from their own father-in-law. This happily married couple who are excellent parents have 4 children. Does this grandpa not love and enjoy his grandchildren? Would he not love their fifth child just as much as the last four? I urge everyone, especially those closest to an expectant mother to guard your tongue; it can cause great pain to those we love.