At some point during pregnancy, usually as soon you begin to show, mere acquaintances and passersby start saying some seriously inappropriate shit to people who are with child. While many of these comments have become so commonplace that most people assume them harmless, upon further investigation with myriad formerly pregnant persons, we’ve come to this formal, evidence-based conclusion: People really need to stop saying this crap.
Well-intentioned or not, these seemingly “innocent” questions and comments can land like a ton of swollen ankles for someone jacked up on hormones. Let’s remove the following pregnancy-related comments from our societal lexicon, shall we?
You look tired.
Oh, do I? That’s interesting! I wonder if it’s the indigestion, anxiety, violent snoring, or the fact I have a whole person doing backflips inside my baby house at midnight. Do you think it’s that — or the fact I can’t sleep on my back because I might crush a vein that delivers blood to my heart? Hmm, I wonder.
Was it planned?
Well if you must know, Susan, it was the result of some reckless unprotected bathroom fornication after guzzling one-too-many White Claws at a Def Leppard concert. Is that what you want to know? OK then, probably don’t ask about the thought process (or lack thereof) that has created the goddamned miracle you see before you today. It’s private.
That looks uncomfortable
Wow! How observant you are. Is your middle name Sherlock? Have you ever won any medals or international contests for your high-level research skills? P.S. The FBI called. It wants its intern back.
You’re so big!
Because what every pregnant person trying to get used to their new, stretching, itching, lopsided body needs is to hear that they are huge. Any and all comments about the size or shape of a pregnant body are 100% off-limits. Enough said.
You’re so tiny!
While on the surface this may seem like a compliment, steer clear. Parents-to-be have many new fears and worries to occupy their minds. They do not need yet another, about whether their baby is meeting growth milestones for their gestational age or whether the baby is “too small.”
Is it twins? (Are you sure? They’re not always right, you know)
Ha ha ha! This joke about how there must be two tiny humans in my big-arse belly (because how else could it grow to such a ginormous size?) — followed by a second, better joke that even though blood tests and ultrasounds have confirmed it’s only one foetus, you remain convinced the doctors have made a mistake — is hilarious. Slow clap for originality.
You look as though labour could start any minute/You look ready to burst
Why thank you, kind stranger in the dairy aisle at Target, for noticing I’m the size of a log cabin and you can’t fathom how I could possibly get any larger. Since we’re sharing invasive observations, you look like you’re overdue for that upper lip electrolysis appointment.
Is that decaf?
Did you just try to school a pregnant person on what they can put into their body during pregnancy? Especially when it’s something as innocuous as a cup of coffee? We’ve researched it, OK, Martha? We know the acceptable limits, and we are enjoying them. We’ve already forsaken alcohol, sushi, all the soft cheese, cold cuts, and bagged lettuce. Don’t take our (less than 100mg of caffeine) cup of joe, too! We beg.
Will you be giving birth naturally?
Or will you be getting a highly toxic epidural? Do you really want to drug your newborn?!
At least, that’s how this question can feel. If a close friend asks whether you’re planning to take pain meds during labour, that’s one thing. But people you barely know need to avoid prying into this personal topic because it lands like they are either 1) silently judging your birth choices or 2) about to unload unsolicited advice and stories about their experience — both of which suck.
It’s good luck to rub a pregnant woman’s belly (and I need all the luck I can get)
Followed by — do my eyes deceive me? — a complete stranger helping themselves to your midsection. Giving it a few creepy rubs, without permission, for their benefit. Like you are some sideshow shaman unbothered by unsolicited touching. Note to world: Pregnant bodies are not public property. Hands off.
You should eat your placenta
OK, I mean, maybe I should? I’m willing to look into the anecdotal benefits and make an informed decision but could you not tell me about the tasty shakes and juices you made with the powder from one of your desiccated body parts while we wait at the dentist’s office? K, thanks.
I probably shouldn’t tell you this while you’re pregnant…
No, you shouldn’t. Especially if you plan to follow that opener with a horror story about how, “If someone had a gun, I would have asked them to shoot me,” during your unmedicated birth or how you limped for a week after they sewed up that third-degree tear.
Are you planning to breastfeed?
Unless you’re a lactation consultant or are about to offer up a veritable treasure trove of gently used bottles, nipples, nursing bras, unexpired formula, and/or a breast pump retailing for $400 why do you need to know? Because it feels like you want to know so you can judge how a parent has decided to feed their baby. And you know what every mum doesn’t need more of? Mum shaming! (Before she’s even had the kid. Sheesh.)
Wow, you’re brave!
This is one of those backhanded compliments you may not realise is shade at first. (Who doesn’t want to be brave?) But the implication is that by adding additional children to your brood, you are taking on a daunting task requiring much courage. Said a different way: Why are you having another kid? Don’t you already have your hands full? (The answer is yes, Donna, I sure do. But I like suffering, OK? Mind your business.)
So… are you done now?
It sounds like you’re either inquiring about my family planning strategy moving forward or making a not-so-subtle dig at the number of children a person has. Either way, please don’t.
So what should you say to someone pregnant?
“You look great!” “Can I help you with that?” “When can I drop off some dinners you can freeze to reheat later?” “Do you need a good housekeeper?” and “My niece babysits. Here’s her number!” are all fantastic alternatives.