One thing pregnant women notice is that people just can’t help offering advice and making comments. They usually mean well, but sometimes their words can hit a nerve.
When a mum-to-be’s hormones have gone haywire and she’s feeling more emotional than normal, the last thing she needs is insensitive remarks.
Here’s what not to say to a pregnant woman:
‘Wow, you’re huge’
Yes, she’s well aware she has swelled to the size of a baby elephant, but she doesn’t need to hear it. People who would never normally comment on someone’s weight feel that it is fine to talk about it when that person is pregnant. Don’t bring the subject up unless they do.
‘Can I touch your tummy?’
It is better to ask than just reach out and lay your hands on their baby bump, but it still puts expectant women in an awkward position if they are not comfortable with being touched. Follow their lead – if they want you to touch them or feel the baby kick, they’ll suggest it.
‘Was it planned?’
Don’t be nosy! This can make some women feel uncomfortable, especially if the baby wasn’t planned and being pregnant has caused them some anguish. You don’t need to know all the details behind the conception – just say congratulations!
‘You shouldn’t be eating/drinking that’
There is still a lot of confusion and misconception about what pregnant women should and shouldn’t consume. Certain foods and drinks can affect the unborn baby, but most women will have discussed this with their doctor or midwife as soon as they find out they are pregnant, and will have decided what they are going to avoid for the next nine months. But if you feel they don’t fully understand the implications of what they’re eating or drinking, you may be able to suggest they talk to their maternity carer.
‘It’s about time!’
For all you know, the pregnant woman and her partner may have been trying to conceive for ages, and they might even have undergone fertility treatment that they’ve kept quiet about. Don’t ask, “What took you so long?” Just be happy for them.
‘Really? You want to call them that?’
What people call their children is a personal choice, and not everybody likes the names other people choose. Often that dislike is for very random reasons, such as not liking the name Joe because of an Uncle Joe who had bad breath. If the parents-to-be tell you the names they’re considering and ask for your opinion, by all means say which ones you prefer, but don’t be critical about their other options.
‘Did I tell you about my friend’s pregnancy/labour from hell? ‘
Don’t share horror stories about pregnancies and births that have gone wrong. It doesn’t help, especially if the mum-to-be is anxious about her situation. If you have helpful advice about pregnancy or labour, ie “My sister found propping herself on pillows in bed helped her to sleep better”, then pass it on, but keep the scary stuff to yourself.