Posted by: Elizabeth | October 6, 2011

Conversations with a Pregnant Woman

What Not to Do

Here are some thoughts to consider for any of you who, when you encounter a pregnant woman, feel the urge to comment on her belly and/or clothes.  First, ask yourself this question: “What sentiment am I trying to convey with this comment?”  If your answer is, “I’m not sure.” or “Nothing, really,” then you’re probably better off refraining from making the comment you had the urge to make.  If, however, you have a legitimate answer to that first question, such as, “I am so excited that this incredible woman is bringing a child into the world, and every time I see her getting visibly closer to her due date, it gives me great joy,” then ask yourself a second question: “Is the comment I am tempted to make the best way to convey that totally legitimate sentiment?”

Here are some examples:

1.  Your urge is to say: “Woah, look at that – you’re wearing maternity clothes now!
My urge to respond is: “Would you rather I just drape a bolt of cloth around myself?  Most pregnant women wear maternity clothes.  Normal clothes don’t have room for an extra person inside the top.” [Duh.]
Perhaps what you could have said: “You look beautiful!” or “I love your top!”
My response then: “Thanks so much!”

2.  Your urge is to say: “Don’t you just love being pregnant?
My urge to respond is: “Guess I don’t have much choice at this point, do I?”
Perhaps what you could have said: “I so enjoyed my journey with pregnancy – I hope you are feeling well and able to enjoy this stage, as well.”
My response then: “Thanks so much!  It is an incredible privilege to take part in this miracle.”

3.  Your urge is to say: “Wow, your belly is really getting big.
My urge to respond is: “Yes, that is a natural and healthy progression with pregnant women.  What’s your excuse?”
Perhaps what you could have said: “I’m so excited to see that the arrival of your little one is getting closer!”
My response then: “Thanks so much!  I’m excited to share that joy with you.”

4.  Your urge is to say (pointing, gesturing, or just really obviously staring at my belly): “Woah, look at that!
My urge to respond is: “What?  So I’ve put on a few pounds.  Sue me.”
Perhaps what you could have said: “Are you pregnant?  What a wonderful gift!  Is there anything I can do to support you during this stage?”
My response then: “Yep!  Due in January.  We’re doing great, thanks.”

5.  (Last one): Your urge is to say: “Oh my gosh, I totally HATED being pregnant.  I puked the whole time.”
My urge to respond is: “Wow, that’s really encouraging. Thanks.”
Perhaps what you could have said: “I hope you’re feeling well – I know every pregnancy is different and some can be quite difficult.”
My response then: “Thanks so much!  I’m grateful for every day that I continue to feel just fine.”

I’m sure you get the picture by now.  I hope this has been a helpful little lesson!

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Responses

  1. What about “You look like you’re ready to pop!” What horrible imagery… surely they know that outcome would be much more traumatic than the one you are expecting. :)

  2. How about the ever awesome “looks like you are having twins” conversation. That is a great one as well.

  3. This is amazing! I’m always shocked at what people will say – pregnant women are fragile and should be addressed with MORE care, not less. :-) My 3.5 year old nephews said it best, “Baby Square Square is getting bigger so Lele is getting bigger too!” Exactly.

  4. Sheesh…there went all my conversation starters for next week. ;)

  5. I usually try to say something about how healthy or lovely they look. I stopped a woman in Target the other day and said, “Your hair looks amazing.” She was stunned. She responded, “Thank you – that means so much!”


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