24 Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant or New Mom

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A lot of these are going to seem obvious. I know. But bear with me, because either I have heard these or I’ve had friends field these inane questions. If you’re guilty of saying these things to new moms, well, consider this a nudge to do better.

1. Is it twins?

Believe me, if she’s having twins, she’ll tell you. And generally, anything that makes a pregnant woman feel fatter than she should be is a big no-no.

2. Wow. Your butt got so much bigger.

A family member told me this while giggling. Seriously. Don’t do this.

3. Any day now, huh?

Again, what the mom hears is “God, you’re huge!”

4. You haven’t had that baby yet?

Being past your due date can be no fun. You want to meet the baby. You might also be mega uncomfortable, and feeling like a watched pot is just the worst.

5. Hi. Yeah, just “checking in…”

Nope. I see right through you. You want to know if I’ve had the baby. Trust me, I’ll tell you when the baby’s here. And just for you, I will live tweet the birth.

6. Was it planned?

I was a fairly young mom. I heard this one more than you can believe. Thing was, it was insulting because I was married and we were trying. I’m pretty sure people who might be coming to terms with an unplanned pregnancy hate this question even more.

7. Who’s the father?

Really? Never okay. Variations on this for same-sex couples are just as insulting.

8. Are you sure?

This is the worst follow-up question to anything. Yes. I’m sure it isn’t twins. Yes, I’m sure I’m only six months along. Yes, it’s really a boy.

9. Did your nose get wider?

Other variations: did you get stretch marks? Are you fingers swollen? You’re probably sensing a theme, best not to remark on appearance, especially when you are pointing out that things are getting bigger.

10. It must be a girl.

Some women want to hear predictions on the sex. But sometimes unwanted guesses are annoying. They also sometimes imply things like “…because she stole your beauty,” or “…because you’re carrying it in the hips.”

11. Why wouldn’t you want to know the sex?/Why would you ruin the surprise of finding out?

You can’t win with this one. People have strong opinions on whether or not you should find out the sex of your baby. It drives people crazy when they want to know the sex of your baby and you don’t. Too bad.

12. You look tiny!

May seem like a compliment, but as someone who took a long time to show, this one really bugged me. I was dying for a baby bump and I didn’t get one until the third trimester. Worse still, it can really make a pregnant woman worry that her baby is too small. Let’s just not add to her worries.

13. You think the first trimester is bad, wait until the third.

Gee, thanks, I can’t wait. But, seriously, every pregnancy is different, you can’t predict how any one is going to feel.

14. Why wouldn’t you want to deliver at home/in a hospital?

This is such a personal decision. It’s also one the family weighed very carefully. Your opinions are moot.

15. Have you peed yourself yet?

I get it. It’s sort of humorous. If you can’t laugh at peeing yourself when you’re pregnant, you might cry. But no woman is looking forward to the experience, nor does everyone pee themselves. (Side note: I totally did. I stood up from the bed one night and despite my desperate kegeling, it just sort of leaked out of me while I yelled “I’m peeing!” over and over on my way to the bathroom.)

16. Wait for those hemorrhoids!

No. No. Let’s not go THERE.

17. You’re pregnant again already?

Yes. My uterus might never recover. I’m probably shortchanging my older child. And I definitely wasn’t planning this. Or maybe I was. Maybe you’re just a judgy jerk for asking.

18. Are you going to circumcise?

Hold up, let me ask you some intimate details over the appearance of your genitalia.

19. Any judgements about names.

So this is hard. An expectant mom may ask your opinion on a name they are considering. They may really want to know. I urge you, do not say anything bad about name they are considering. Because if they end up going with it despite your reservations, you’re gonna feel like a jerk.

20. Commenting on the appearance of the baby, other than to say he’s beautiful.

So, I’ve written extensively about commenting on the mother’s body. But I sort of hate when people make comments about my baby’s appearance. No offense to my husband, but I got really sick of hearing “he’s got his daddy’s nose.”

21. Having a new baby is BLISSFUL/AWFUL!

This isn’t the time to make a judgment call. If a mom is having a hard time, nothing makes her feel worse than being told how happy she should be. This is the time to ask how she’s feeling.

22. Did you tear?

Again, let’s keep the conversation away from other peoples’ genitals.

23. Can you fit back in your jeans yet?

Moms don’t need any more pressure to lose weight after giving birth, they get plenty from the media and from themselves.

24. You look tired.

Just because it’s true does not mean you should say it. Also, only say this if you are offering to take the baby for a couple of hours so she can nap.

Conclusion

This list is hardly exhaustive. If you’re ever unsure if you should say something to an expectant or new mother, ask yourself these questions: Am I talking about genitalia? Am I making a judgment? Am I sharing an unnecessary horror story? Will this in any way be misconstrued as me telling her she’s fat? If someone said this to me, would I punch them?

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes: keep it to yourself!

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Now I want to know: What awful things did someone say to you as a new or expectant mom?

 


25 thoughts on “24 Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant or New Mom”

  1. I was nineteen, visibly eight months along working as a bank teller. At the end of a very long day some well meaning but absolutely clueless fifty something male customer asked me point blank if I had lost my mucus plug yet. Apparently he was excited about sharing his new knowledge about pregnancy/birth. Yikes.
    Also, one thirty something woman asked me if I would even be able to breastfeed (A cup). I had to explain that milk production is not seriously impacted by the amount of fat cells you possess but rather teeny tiny milk glands.

  2. I got: “Are you SURE your baby is getting enough protein?” Because I am a vegetarian (moral reasons) and continued being a vegetarian through pregnancy and breastfeeding. I’m not trailblazing here, I’m not the first mom to be a vegetarian, as I told my (former) pediatrician.

    “You’re so TINY! You shouldn’t have a home birth, that baby is going to rip you in half.” Ok, I am a very slim person. I always have been, and I have had the poor body image to go with it, because people are constantly commenting on my figure and asking how much I eat. Yes, I had a home birth, because I had a perfectly healthy low-risk pregnancy, and it was my choice. No, I didn’t “rip in half. I had a perfectly normal, albeit quick, labor and delivery at home. My tiny, vegetarian body grew and birthed a 7lb 8oz healthy baby.

    “You’re not supplementing with formula?” Again, because of my small frame, small breasts, and being a vegetarian. No, I’m not. My milk production was just fine, thank you very much. I eat in a healthy manner, and my small breasts were not an issue. I breastfed for 21.5 months with no issues, no bottles, and no formula. Also no calcium, iron, or protein deficiencies. my son made every single weight gain goal as per the WHO suggested standards.

    My answer has always been a polite “I’m not the first mom to be doing this.” Or in my former pediatrician’s case, bringing my child’s weight charted on WHO charts (more geared toward breastfed babies) to combat with her CDC charts (more geared toward formula babies), informing her that I have been a vegetarian for nearly 10 years without dying or being hospitalized for deficiencies, and getting a new pediatrician.

  3. A client of mine caught me drinking a chocolate milk shake that another client so nicely brought me! Now keep in mind this second client has never had children. She says to me “should you really be drinking that?” She made me feel really bad like all I did was drink them all the time! I think I’ve had 2 maybe 3 at the most my whole pregnancy and I’m 34weeks!! Gosh can’t a girl get a treat once in awhile?? Especially while pregnant!!!

  4. In addition to the above, my MIL kept asking me to have another because I was pregnant with my second daughter. She also has said numerous times that my baby doesn’t look like my husband (“are you sure she is his?” And “she looks adopted”) excuse me?

  5. I was happily pregnant with my second child, happily married, stable relationship, solid finances. My mom’s reply when I told her I was pregnant? “Oh no!” Love my mom, but WTF.

  6. Parents appreciate education from those who have been there. Circumcision is not a cosmetic procedure. It is male genital mutilation, cutting away sensitive nerve endings equivalent to a female clitoris. Mothers and fathers need to research this, and research the safety of vaccinations before they have to make these decisions at birth. You can’t go back on these decisions so they are best researched and agreed upon before the birth. Tell this to your pregnant friends, and tell them a tsp of each, honey and apple cider vinegar in a glass of water daily, gives you all the minerals the human body needs.

  7. First thing out of MIL mouth to her son when we announced our pregnancy “you horny toad!” (Not a compliment).
    A coworker watched me eat lunch and gasped “Is that Chinese?! You can’t eat that! ” I responded, no, it’s homemade Thai food and yes I can. She then exclaimed to everyone in the room “I saw HER drinking a DIET soda too!” It was a Hansens “natural” diet root beer and I bought one 6 pack with each of my 4 pregnancies and enjoyed them thoroughly!
    Then, pregnant with my 4th at 34 weeks – I was asked my due date and the response was “really?! Why are you SO big?”.random stranger in the grocery store. They were so serious. I responded – well, I swear my body surrenders to pregnancy faster with each child, but maybe I’m just fat.

  8. I didn’t sleep for more than an hour at a time in the last month of pregnancy with my first. It was horrible. I had two moms say, “Oh, just wait until you have the baby. It gets so much worse.” BS. It wasn’t true. I now have two and I had the sense to go to the chiropractor with my second and avoided this problem entirely.

  9. My mil said, “where did those blue eyes come from?” We’d gone through infertility, and even though we’d told her multiple times we used my husband’s sperm, she didn’t believe us and likes to point out how our twins looked different than she thinks they should. Oh, and those blue eyes? I suppose they came from THEIR MOTHER. Seeing as I have blue eyes and all. (Ps, their father is half dutch…who ever heard of a blonde hair blue eyed dutch person? Ohh wait)

  10. One more, as the mother of twins, you get a lot of questions. One being, “are they natural?” I personally don’t mind this question as I am very open about my infertility journey, but asking a mom if her twins are “natural” is rather personal and insulting. I saw one mom put a sign in front of hers that said “conceived by…f●●king” ha!

  11. The worst one for me was “Can I take her home now? It’s time for overnight with (fill in whosever name).”

    I get it. She was the first grandchild on both sides. But we were breast feeding, cosleeping, baby wearing and damnit, it took me 10 freaking months and 16 hours of labor to get her here. No, you don’t get her for an overnight. She’s not yours. Go have another baby if you want one that bad. We actually had to put the foot down with both of the inlaws to BACK OFF.

    1. We also had the ‘just pump so we can help you feed the baby’ from my MIL. Uhhh no, i have to pump at work, i am not sacrificing nursing and reconnecting time when i am home so you can feel good about yourself and like you’re ‘helping’ when you’re not.

  12. Along the lines of the genitals comments for me was when my MIL kept asking how dialated my cervix was when I was in labor. Thankfully DH handled it because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have handled telling her none of her buisiness with grace. Yes I’m birthing tour grandchild, but the status of my body is not public information!!!

  13. My mother in law, who I do love and appreciate very much and who is generally very supportive:
    I kid you not every time I see her now (37 weeks pregnant) she makes the following comments:
    – You’ve gained weight since the last time I saw you!
    – Wow! Your belly has really dropped!
    – Are you SURE there’s not twins?!
    – I can’t believe you’re walking around still!
    This coming from a woman who had 4 kids, never stayed pregnant beyond 36 weeks and (according to her) never gained more than 18 lbs during pregnancy. Also she has repeatedly told me over the years how hard it was for her to see her mother favor her taller, skinnier older sister over her, shorter and curvy. You’d think she’d know better.

  14. When I would excitedly talk about my babies’ latest milestones my SIL would always compare it to her (severely delayed) son. I had to swallow hard whenever that happened. I feel much compassion for children with developmental delays, and much respect for their mothers, but no one wants their baby compared to a baby that never developed past 2 years of age mentally.

    1. Er.. You sound like the insensitive one here, bragging about milestones that her child will probably never meet. Or if he’s already met those (if your child is younger), why shouldn’t she have the pleasure of discussing what little milestones she can talk about?

  15. I was 33 when I delivered my first son. I’m 5′ tall and very petite. He was a whopping 9lbs 8oz and I truly looked like I was pregnant with twins.
    The hospital where I delivered him required newborns to stay in the nursery at night and new moms to walk down the hall to get them for breastfeeding etc. As I peeked in the nursery at him, I saw a much younger new mom and her friend looking into the nursery too. She pointed her new baby out to me and then asked when I was due. Um, I already gave birth!!! He’s in the nursery and apparently I still look 9 months pregnant!!!

  16. It’s not so much a pregnancy one but after having my first child, family and friends that weren’t really close to us kept asking “when are you going to give him someone to play with, he needs a brother or sister. ” it’s like yes I realize that but maybe we just aren’t ready for another yet. It was just an awkward question to have to answer because maybe we didn’t have the right finances or maybe we were trying and it just wasn’t happening, they don’t know what is happening in our lives. Usually my answer would be “yeah maybe” or something along those lines. Tho now we actually are pregnant again I no longer have to hear that question/suggestion from people.

    1. And the fact that if say you’re a newly married couple and you find out that you may not be able to have children, hearing that question can just add to the stress and sadness of the fact. So please don’t ask it. I beg you, even if you mean well, you never know how someone’s life is at home. And if you do know, well then you probably aren’t asking the question anyway.

  17. Within weeks of our wedding:
    “Why aren’t you pregnant yet?”
    “Are you just not trying?”
    “Have you tried not trying so hard?”
    “Have you not figured out how to do it yet?”
    “Make sure you only make love every other day.”
    “You’ll get pregnant as soon as you stop trying.”

  18. I think its ironic that so many people are concerned with what a pregnant woman eats as to not harm the baby (when the baby is wanted) but yet on the flip side (when baby is not waned and an “inconvenience to the mom or dad) many people are OK with abortion…and now the latest these Planned Parenthood videos that are surfacing….seriously??? I just don’t get it.

  19. My husband’s sister and husband wanted to come meet baby #2… On day two. (We aren’t that close. They’re much older and we get together maybe three times a year). I put them off until maybe day four. Still… Brother in law walks in, says “hi” and his next comment is “Are you sure there isn’t another one in there? Looks like you still have a baby in there”
    Exactly why i didn’t want them there. Took a lot of willpower to not respond with, “that was extremely rude. You can leave now.”

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