When I became pregnant with my first child, I was not prepared for the unsolicited advice, inappropriate comments, and awkward questions that I would receive.
I had no idea that being pregnant would cause some people to think that my sexuality, body, and personal convictions were up for discussion, even with strangers.
I admit, it caught me totally off guard. It seems that everyone has an opinion: my closest friends, neighbors, strangers in the grocery line, etc.
It is a topic that I now know is quite common (see here), but at the time when I was pregnant with my first child, it was a startling learning experience.
Now I am pregnant with my second child and nothing seems to surprise me. Still, I feel that others should be cognizant of the comments and questions they ask pregnant women.
After all, I am fully aware that a lot of this unsolicited advice and curiosity comes from a very innocent place, but I also feel that there needs to more tact and consideration.
That is why I feel that it is important to share my story so that maybe others can learn and be thoughtful when you see that next pregnant lady in the grocery line.
These are the top crazy questions and comments that I have encountered while being pregnant:
1. Well, if you are having a girl, don’t feel like you have to get an abortion.
I am going to start off with the craziest, most inappropriate comment I ever received while being pregnant. It took place in a thrift shop when I was perusing baby clothes.
This random lady came up to me and looked at the cute little pair of newborn blue jeans I was holding, as well as my ever-expanding belly, and asked, “What are you having?”
“I am not sure yet,” I responded.
“Well, if you are having a girl, don’t feel like you have to get an abortion.”
My mouth dropped.
“So many people get an abortion nowadays because it’s a girl, and in other countries…”
This is when I stopped listening. No expansion needed.
2. Was it planned?
This next question was quite common, but it still took me by surprise. The main reason it annoyed me was because even though our baby had been planned, what if the opposite had been true?
Would I answer nope, not planned at all? It also seemed a bit more personal than I felt comfortable with.
Or what if I answered, “Yes, it was planned, we got it on for months before it happened.” I am well aware of the attitude in this last phrase, but the was it planned question got to me.
I guess I just didn’t feel that that information should be important to others. What was important is that we were having a baby.
The future was what I wanted to focus on.
My standard answer to this question ended up being, “We are very excited for this baby.” And then I would change the subject.
So many times I did want to be a wise ass and say comments like the following: “Oh, you are supposed to plan these things? Or, “Yes, and it was fantastic!”
Here are some more hilarious responses to that question from a BabyCenter blog by Katherine Martin.
I wish I said them all.
3. You are drinking a Coffee!
This is another comment that did not come from an evil place.
It has been important for me to recognize that a lot of people say inappropriate comments because they actually care about you.
Still, I encountered freak outs when having my one latte for the day.
“You’re going to end up with a caffeine-induced baby.” Or, “What are you thinking? That is so bad for the baby!”
You get the picture.
My response was always something to the effect,”The baby is doing great, thank you. My doctor said that actually, a couple cups of coffee a day is fine, but thanks for your concern.”
4. Are you really sure there is only one in there?
This is usually said in a humorous way, but it is still irritating. Yes, I am getting fat; I am pregnant.
No, it does not mean that I am octomom; it just means that my body made space for a watermelon that was not there before.
How about rephrasing this question to a compliment, “You look vibrant today.” That’s a comment that would have been welcomed as I waddled to the checkout line.
5. You need to gain more weight!
On the opposite end, I also received this comment: You need to gain more weight!
I did not know everyone was a doctor.
I was told many times that I needed to eat more, I was not big enough, etc. Now, this is different than the comment, “You do not look (insert amount of months) pregnant.”
This did not bother me but telling me that I had to gain weight was an entirely different story.
My response to this one was “At my recent appointment, my doctor said I was measuring perfectly.”
I have learned that people seem to respond quite well when you quote doctors.
6. How long did you try to get pregnant?
Again, personal. We are talking about sex here, and it’s one thing for my dearest girlfriends to ask this question, but another for a random stranger.
Yes, strangers asked me this question. . . a couple times.
I do not feel like having small talk about how often my husband and I tried to conceive.
Next topic, please.
7. You’ll never sleep again.
Again, this is usually said with the best of intentions, but it drove me nuts!
I am having insomnia every night, I wake up to pee every hour, and my bowling ball of a stomach is making it difficult to even sleep comfortably on my side.
I do not need to hear that it gets worst.
Now truth be told, it does, but I didn’t need to hear that at the time.
How about asking, “How are you feeling? Have you been getting any rest?”
I would have appreciated these questions.
8. You are planning on a natural childbirth, that is not going to happen honey.
This comment also caught me off guard. My goal was to have a natural childbirth for personal reasons that should not matter to anyone else.
But when some people found out that was what I was planning, the responses were anything from scowls to flat out telling me that it wasn’t going to happen.
A woman who has chosen to try to have a natural childbirth needs encouragement. She needs others to believe in her. She needs support.
She does not need the opposite.
Yes, a natural birth is difficult. . . VERY DIFFICULT. But it is possible, and support is key. After all, our species did survive for centuries before epidurals, and just like the decision to use medication during childbirth, a natural approach is a personal choice.
It’s important that I reiterate that I know a lot of these comments and questions were not malicious in nature. In fact, quite the contrary, but I do feel that all of us need to have a little more self-awareness when speaking to a pregnant woman.
This goes for me as well. Before I became pregnant, I am sure I probably said at least a couple of these comments and questions.
But being the receiver changes things, and I also recognize that a pregnant woman’s hormones can sometimes make already sensitive topics even more so.
I think it’s important to really think about the comment you are making and the question you are asking.
Does it feel inappropriate?
Would you ask a person this who was not pregnant?
Is this question too personal?
Would I feel comfortable responding to this comment or question?
These are the questions we should be asking ourselves before pouncing on that pregnant lady who really just wants her one latte, some ice cream, a good night’s sleep, and your support.
Suggestions for further reading:
Pregnancy is not an Invitation to Comment on My Body by Jessica N. Turner
8 Compliments Every Pregnant Woman Wants to Hear by Devan McGuinness