I was 18 weeks pregnant when I walked into a prenatal yoga class at a new studio, nervous but excited about the possibility of making some new mom friends. We all went around the room, introduced ourselves and said how far along we were. When it was my turn, I said, “I’m Suzie and I’m 18 weeks, three days pregnant.” The woman after me? “I’m so-and-so and I’m 18 weeks, two days pregnant, but I’m not showing half as much as you are!”
Yep, apparently even fellow pregnant women aren’t above a little body shaming. I’ve heard so many more ridiculous comments since then, and I’m not the only one: Almost every mom-to-be has endured insensitive, absurd and downright rude comments during her pregnancy. Here’s what you should never, ever say.
1. “Wow, are you sure there aren’t two in there?” Yep, I’m sure. But thanks for making me feel self-conscious about my pregnancy weight gain! Seriously, if a woman is talking to you about her pregnancy, she would mention if she was having multiples. Don’t imply that her belly is huge by making assumptions about how many babies she is carrying in there.
2. “OMG, you’re so small! You barely look pregnant.” Just as you shouldn’t comment on how big a woman is when she’s pregnant, don’t remark on how small she is either. You might not think this one is as insulting, but it can make a first-time mom worry about whether she is measuring too small for her baby’s gestational age. Rule of thumb: Don’t make any comments about a pregnant mama’s size.
3. “You must be ready to pop!” (When you’re only five months along…) Nope, try again! If you don’t know how far along a woman is in her pregnancy, don’t ever say this. And if you do know when she is due, please remember not to say this in July when she is due in October! (Related: “You have 10 weeks to go? But you’re already so big!”)
4. “You look so tired/sick/swollen/miserable!” Some pregnant mamas just don’t get that elusive glow. The woman you’re saying this to probably is tired, sick, swollen and/or miserable—you don’t need to point it out! A better option: Compliment her cute outfit or buy her a treat when you get your morning coffee—that pick-me-up might totally make her day.
5. “Sleep now because soon you’ll never sleep again!” First-time moms aren’t completely clueless: They know that newborns are a lot of work and that luxurious sleep-ins will likely become a distant memory for a few years. But what this comment really seems to mean is “Enjoy yourself now because your life is about to suck!” This mom has made the decision to have a kid with open eyes and is excited about the newest chapter in her life. Don’t make a comment that’s dripping in schadenfreude. Try a little sympathy instead. (Related: “You’ll never watch a movie/go out to a restaurant/see your friends again!”)
6. “OMG, I have to tell you about my super-traumatic birth/my newborn’s super-scary time in the NICU….” No, nope, never. No pregnant woman ever needs to hear your horror stories. Good vibes only, please! (Related: “You’re having morning sickness during your first trimester? Let me tell you about my friend who had it every day for the full nine months!”)
7. “Ugh, three girls? Your poor husband.” Please take your gender stereotypes elsewhere. (Related: “Are you going to keep trying until you have a boy?” or “Three girls? That’s going to be expensive when you have to pay for all those weddings.”)
8. “Is this your first?” “No, it’s my third.” “Oh, you look too young to have three kids.” Number 1: Rude much? Even if the pregnant woman in question is young, mind your own business. Number 2: Sometimes people just look young, so you just might be saying this to a 35-year-old.
9. “Your due date is terrible timing because it’s so close to Halloween/Christmas/New Year’s Eve/Groundhog Day.” You know that you usually can’t plan when you’ll get pregnant, right? The mom-to-be may already be having some anxiety about her child’s birthday coinciding with a major holiday. Don’t add to her stress.
10. “So what went wrong with your birth control?” Unless you’re BFFs, this question is never appropriate. Honestly, even if you are besties, you’re better off waiting until she offers up these kinds of details on her own. (Related: “Well, that was clearly an accident.”)
11. “Um, are you sure it’s OK to eat/drink that?” Unless you’re a doctor, don’t ask a pregnant woman this. Trust me: We’ve already looked up how much caffeine we’re allowed to have in a day, and we made sure this cheese was on the approved list from Health Canada. We truly appreciate the concern, but it gets obnoxious when it feels like everyone—from your coworkers to baristas—is policing your food and beverage intake. (One woman was accosted by a fellow customer in line at the liquor store, who said, “You know you’re not allowed to drink, right?” Yes, but last time we checked, pregnant women are still able to buy bottles of wine as hostess gifts.)
12. “OMG, you still haven’t had your baby yet?!” If you, the not-pregnant person, are amazed that she hasn’t given birth yet, I’m pretty certain that she is beyond amazed, too.
13. How do you feel about bringing another child into this already overcrowded world of strife, violence and environmental destruction? Let’s say it again together: Good vibes only!
Being pregnant is one of the most special times in a woman’s life. And even though it’s often coupled with aches and pains, it’s still a time we should be celebrating, not judging. Many of these comments are probably said with good intentions, but trust us: They’re not the kind of things that stressed and overly hormonal moms-to-be need to be hearing. Not sure what you should say the next time you’re chatting with a pregnant woman? Keep it simple: “Congratulations!” “You look fantastic!” and “How are you feeling?” are always safe bets.