Being an overdue pregnant person is super challenging. I should know—my baby arrived nine (nine!) days late, which obviously felt like an eternity, especially since it was my first pregnancy. Most of my friends offered practical advice and were supportive as I waited for baby. But others have said some pretty unhelpful, offensive things—and I’m pretty sure I’ve said the same things to overdue pregnant friends in the past. Oops.
Here are some examples of things people really need to stop saying to pregnant people who have gone past their due date.
1. “You’re huge!”
No matter how many times someone tells themselves they are gaining weight because they’re pregnant, no one wants to hear that they’re huge. It can be very difficult to separate body image from pregnancy and accept our bodies as they get bigger. Even if you think you commenting on their growing babe is a good thing, avoid commenting on your friend’s size.
Instead, try: “You look great!”
When I was in a position of not knowing which clothes fit and not understanding my growing body with my first pregnancy, affirmation meant the world. Finding a shirt that was long enough and wearing pants with a stretchy waistband was a challenging transition. If a pregnant friend meets you for coffee with a messy bun and no makeup, try to find something that you can affirm about them. (Hint: Pregnancy hair usually looks pretty great.)
2. “Are you in labour yet?”
I admit I’ve done it—sent daily texts asking friends if they are in labour yet. I felt like it was an innocent way of showing interest. But as the recipient of that text, it felt like the world was trying to rush a process I had no control over. An overdue parent wants nothing more than to hold baby in their arms, and messages from friends can make them feel pressure when there’s nothing they can do about the situation.
Instead, try: “Let’s get lunch.”
Small gestures to help overdue friends take their mind off of things make a big difference. Offering to get lunch together or treat them to a pedicure will help distract them from what feels like an eternal waiting game. I felt increasing pressure each day that I went overdue and had to make challenging decisions about whether or not to be induced. A break from doctors appointments and unpleasant decisions is a great way to show you care.
3. “Have you tried _____?”
There’re no shortage of foods, activities and treatments that are rumoured to help induce labour. But overdue people have probably heard them all already, so it’s a little patronizing—and most of these methods aren’t proven to actually work anyway.
Instead, try: “Let’s go for a walk!”
After trying everything from acupuncture to eating an entire pineapple, I didn’t want to hear anymore suggestions but I still wanted to feel like I was doing something to help the process along. Friends offering to go for a dog walk or stroll around the mall helped me feel like I was doing something to get labour started without suggesting yet another old wives’ tale.
4. “Enjoy your sleep now.”
One of my biggest pet peeves towards the end of my (very long) pregnancy was people telling me to enjoy my sleep. Parents with young children seemed to act like I was super lucky to not have a newborn yet. In reality, I wasalready getting up four times a night to use the bathroom, and felt that I would rather wake up to my baby than my bladder. Feeling as though something daunting is looming does not make a challenging situation any better.
Instead, try: “What you’re going through is really hard”
Acknowledging that your friend is frustrated, uncomfortable and feeling impatient is one of the easiest ways to support them. Being a listening ear and giving them a chance to vent will do wonders for an overdue friend. If you have kids, resist the urge to tell them how much easier life was before your little ones came along.
5. “I know someone who went __ days overdue!”
As the days past my due date ticked by, many people’s response was to tell me how much more overdue a friend of theirs went. It seemed almost like a competition for how much past their due date someone went, as if that minimized what I was going through. Hearing that someone had it worse than I did was far from helpful as I tried to patiently wait to go into labour.
Instead, try: “Every day, you’re one day closer to meeting your baby.”
I found it encouraging to acknowledge that my baby was on her own timeline and each day was getting me closer to meeting her. Rather than comparing the time to my due date, it was helpful to think of the passing days as me getting closer to my baby’s arrival.
6.“Trust me, you don’t want to get induced.”
Over and over again, people would tell me how terrible it would be if I had to get induced. From warning me that the labour would be so intense I wouldn’t be able to catch my breath to adverse effects that being induced can have on the baby, I heard it all. In many ways, I felt like time was ticking and I was being backed into a corner with disastrous results. With every day that passed, I felt more panicked that my fate was being decided for me and people’s comments about how I should avoid being induced were far from helpful.
Instead, try: “You can do it.”
A few of my friends went through inductions and nonetheless found the experience empowering and positive. Hearing those stories made me feel so much better. When I had to make decisions about various levels of induction, I found advice and encouragement from fellow moms meaningful. Personally, I ended up going with my doctor’s best judgement for each step, but it helped to hear stories from moms that were induced that didn’t end in a traumatic birth experience.
When a friend is overdue with their pregnancy, it is important to be sensitive and think of how they may be interpreting your comments and suggestions. Ask your friend what they need and how you can be supportive; everyone needs something different. Most importantly, don’t assume you have all the answers or know what they need.