Top 5 things not to say to a pregnant woman {and what to say instead}

//Top 5 things not to say to a pregnant woman {and what to say instead}

So if you have known me within the last year, you would know I’m what I call “terminally pregnant.” I’m roughly 37 weeks and I am ready to not be pregnant anymore. The process of growing a human inside your own body is truly an incredible one full of anticipation, excitement, and adventure. It is also a long journey that is uncomfortable at best and truly grueling at worst. {This may be a very biased opinion based on my own experiences with pregnancy.} So really, there is a balance of good and bad throughout, but some things can tilt the scales to it being more on the side of bad.

One of those things tends to be what people feel is appropriate to say to women who are pregnant.

things not to say to pregnant woman - theCityMoms

Often strangers, friends, and family will say things offhandedly and not think about the impact their words may have. They may feel they are just joking. They may think they’re just being polite by showing interest in the pregnancy. They may believe that there is no harm in what they are saying because its similar things they heard while they were pregnant or heard being said to other pregnant women. But many times certain comments can weigh heavy on the woman it’s being said to. There have been a few comments I’ve heard during my pregnancies that make me roll my eyes, heavy sigh, or even cry a little. We know these comments aren’t meant to be hurtful, but it happens.

So I’m here – an actual pregnant woman – to let you know about a few statements that should really be avoided… And some guidance on what to say instead.*

{Please note: These are based on my own experiences and may not be statements other pregnant woman take issue with. But still – best to try and avoid if you aren’t sure if she does or not.}

1. Wow you look so huge/so small!

Commenting on anyone’s bodies typically is a no-no. However, when a woman becomes pregnant there is this unspoken break in that mentality and suddenly making comments on the size of her belly becomes ok. Honestly, it’s really not. Many pregnant women are struggling with the changes their bodies are going through and may struggle with self-esteem issues, body confidence issues, or just worry that she isn’t growing “normally” for her pregnancy. People pointing out their own perceptions on how her body is changing typically won’t help with that. Pregnant bellies vary between different women and there is no real correct way for a woman to look when she is pregnant. So saying a woman is looking huge or small is just adding unnecessary anxiety during a pretty vulnerable time.

  • What to say instead: Wow you are looking so beautiful/happy/healthy right now! Do you want to sit while I get you something to eat?


2. Any horror story regarding birth.

Just like pregnant bodies can look differently for each person, birth can also be a completely different experience and vary between women. I’ve noticed that many people want to tell pregnant women about their traumatic/difficult labor and birth stories. Now, there is nothing wrong with sharing these stories, if they were asked for. When I was pregnant with my first, many family members and friends who had already gone through childbirth before me felt it necessary to tell me all the terrible things they went through to get their kids out into the world. I admire and applaud them for going through what they did. But it was traumatic for me to hear those things while I was waiting to give birth to my own baby. Hearing these stories can create a great deal of anxiety for the already anxious mom that could be avoided if others could hold off on telling those stories until after this baby is born. I recognize the intention to help prepare for what can come, but often that intention is overlapped by the unintentional side effect of anxiety and fear for birth.

  • What to say instead: I would love to swap labor and delivery stories with you after you’ve given birth. If you have any questions about my birth I’m happy to answer them. Hey I have an extra brownie, would you like it?


3. You know what causes that, right?

This one is an odd one to me. It is often said as a joke, but can feel really annoying when you’re on the receiving end of it. It feels very condescending and implies naivety on the part of the expecting person/couple. It also tends to be said more often to people who are expecting for the second time or more. This is said almost as way of letting the pregnant person know it isn’t appropriate for her to have that many children, at least as far of the person saying it is concerned. I’ve heard this before as a reaction to how close in age my children will be. My first will be 16 months old when our second child is born. Many people would say this and laugh but for me and my husband it felt pretty insulting because it felt like an admonishment of our private lives.

  • What to say instead: Wow I’m so excited for you! Yay, a baby is coming! Let’s get celebratory milkshakes!

WE LOVED THIS READ TOO: Your brain on baby – the mind-altering impact of motherhood

4. Touching the pregnant belly.

Ok, so this is more of an action rather than something a person says, but I still feel it needs to be addressed. When a woman becomes pregnant the world seems to see her as no longer her own autonomous person, but rather a vessel to grow the baby. And many people feel entitled to being able to interact with the growing baby as they see fit and bypass any boundaries the pregnant woman has. And this is true for people we know and people we don’t know. How many women in your life have a story about a stranger coming up to them and just touching their belly without even saying one word to her? Probably many. Touching anyone’s body without their permission is a no-no. Its uncomfortable, creepy, and puts the pregnant woman in a sticky situation. If she were to push the person away, she becomes “rude and hormonal.” If she lets it happen then she is uncomfortable and is teaching others that her boundaries don’t matter. There isn’t a lot of winning for her when the situation is forced upon her.

  • What to say instead: Are you comfortable with people touching your stomach? I want to respect your boundaries and comfort level. Are you comfortable with having ice cream for dinner tonight?


5. It will all be worth it in the end.

This could completely be a me thing, but I have heard other pregnant women groan over this statement before. Often when a pregnant woman complains about a symptom or experience she is having there is at least one person who will brush off what she says with “well it will all be worth it in the end/when the baby is here.” This feels like a complete disregard for her feelings, thoughts, and general state of being. Absolutely it will be worth it because we will have our sweet baby to love on once this is over. However, the road to get there is long and paved with bloating, cramping, insomnia, back aches, swelling, nausea, peeing yourself, breathing difficulties, and all sorts of other things that can be normal or abnormal. These experiences are legitimate and it’s ok for a pregnant woman to be allowed to complain about them from time to time…or even all the time because, like I said, this stuff is hard. Often by saying this you’re telling that woman that she needs to just be quiet about what she is going through and is not allowed to be anything but happy and grateful that she is carrying life. As Daniel Tiger says, “sometime you feel two feelings at the same time and that’s ok.” A pregnant woman can be grateful for her baby and also need to vent her frustrations about being pregnant.

  • What to say instead: That sounds so hard and I’m so sorry that’s what you’re going through right now. You can pick whatever you want for dinner tonight. I’ve also set up a massage for you and you can sleep in tomorrow while I clean the house. Did I mention how beautiful you look today?

The biggest takeaway I hope you can get from this is simply to be kind in what you say to pregnant women. We’re hormonal, we’re tired, and we’re constantly hungry while also trying to take care of a small child that we can’t see or hold yet. What may seem like a joke or lighthearted comment to you may be hurtful to her so err on the side of caution with how you phrase things and stay away from certain comments. Also, always have a snack ready for your pregnant friend.



Abby Mounts - theCityMomsAbby Mounts is a native to Indiana and couldn’t see living anywhere else. She recently became a stay at home mom after giving birth to her first child but before that, she was an addictions therapist. She still covers group therapy sessions when she can to keep her clinical skills strong.

Abby likes to identify herself as “quirky” and would rather spend days making other people laugh and having fun. Abby enjoys being a mom and wife but also has a passion for other things in life- such as animal advocacy, writing, singing, and travel.

2019-03-07T22:34:32-05:00March 7th, 2019|
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