The Dos and Don'ts of How to Speak to a Pregnant Woman
Here’s the truth: People say really rude and inappropriate things to pregnant women, especially in regards to their physical appearance. We’re not sure why this phenomenon happens, given it’s clearly out of line to comment on how “big” or “small” anything or anyone is when they aren’t pregnant, but we do know it happens to expecting mamas. A lot.
While we believe that most of these comments are coming from a well-intentioned place, we think that with a little more thought, people might make a different choice in words or topics when chatting with their pregnant friends/coworkers/family members. If you’ve ever wondered what you should and shouldn’t say to a pregnant woman, these easy-to-understand dos and don’ts can help!
What to Say to a Pregnant Woman
When a friend, family member, or acquaintance is having a baby, your first instinct of course will be to congratulate them and start a conversation about it! It’s best to approach these conversations in a positive manner. Here are some ideas and tips on nice things to say to a pregnant woman:
- Do express your sincere excitement for her and the journey she is about to embark on.
- Do tell her she is glowing. That pregnancy becomes her. That she is the cutest expecting mama you’ve ever seen.
- Do tell her you’re so happy to see her (at work, church, the store, wherever!) when you know she is nearing her due date.
- Do remember that while pregnancy is a huge part of her life, she still has other things going on she’d love to talk about, too!
- Do ask her if she’d like a snack, smoothie, break, glass of water, etc. Find out how you can be helpful and make her more comfortable!
- If it’s her first time expecting, do tell her you think she and her partner will make amazing parents and the baby is incredibly lucky to have them as parents.
- Do tell her how adorable her baby is going to be and how you can’t wait to meet them.
- Do provide encouragement, positivity and help.
- And the ultimate DO: Let her dictate the conversation. She probably has a million people asking her the same pregnancy questions (When are you due? Is it a boy or a girl? Do you have a name? Do you have morning sickness?) over and over. If she wants to talk about her pregnancy, let her bring it up and follow her lead in the conversation. If she doesn’t, just pretend she isn’t pregnant and talk to her as you normally would about all the things you talk to everyone else about — work, vacation, sports, weekend plans, weather, pets, etc.
What Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman
When it comes to pregnancy, there are obvious topics to avoid, such as weight gain. But there are quite a few common questions and sayings that can actually make the mom-to-be self-conscious (and therefore be avoided).
- Don’t ask her if she’s having twins, or if she’s sure there’s “only one in there.” Just don’t make any comment on the size of her baby belly, period. Whether you perceive her to be carrying big or small is not relevant nor helpful to her. Everyone carries differently depending on their body type, baby, medical conditions, etc. While you may not intend for your comments to offend, they can.
- Don’t tell her she’s never going to sleep again. It’s not true and she is already aware newborns don’t sleep through the night, so that comment is neither helpful nor encouraging.
- Don’t tell her she looks ready to pop, she looks due any day or that you think she won’t make it to her due date. She probably already feels uncomfortable and huge; she doesn’t need affirmation that she appears like she is ready to birth the baby any second.
- Don’t give her unsolicited advice about breastfeeding, birth, pacifiers, swaddling, sleeping or anything in between. If she wants your take on something, she will ask. Otherwise, it’s best you keep your opinions to yourself.
- Don’t say “Wow, you’re still here?!” (at work, church, the store, wherever!) when you know she is nearing her due date.
- Don’t touch or rub her belly without asking first (and you should probably know that very few women actually like having their bellies touched at all, so unless you are extremely close to the pregnant person, just don’t do it).
- Don’t tell them a birth horror story, a sad story about pregnancy loss or anything really deep and dark. There is enough anxiety and worry that comes with pregnancy and these stories will do nothing but scare the person, so just keep them to yourself.
- Don’t ask if they were “trying” or if the pregnancy was an accident. That is an extremely personal question and none of your business. If this person wants to share that information with you they will without you having to ask.
- Don’t analyze the way a woman is carrying and then try to guess the sex of the child. Nobody wants their body scrutinized like that. Furthermore, it doesn’t really matter if you think it’s a girl or a boy. Everyone will find out when the baby is born!
- Don’t tell them what they should or shouldn’t be eating or drinking.
What to Say When Someone is Expecting a Baby
Looking for some encouraging words to say to the friend or relative in your life that just found out they are expecting? Here are a few things to say to the soon-to-be new parents beyond just congratulations:
- You’re going to a GREAT parent!
- I’m so happy you get to have this life-changing experience.
- Another great addition to the family (or your family)!
- No need to start a college fund with your genes!
- ¡Felicitaciones!, mazel tov, gōng xǐ, or some other form of congratulations from their culture or nationality, or any other culture or nationality.
The number one rule to remember is to approach each conversation in a positive manner, and provide your expecting friend or family member the support they need. If you’re looking for a present for the new mom, check out our gifts section for ideas.