You Look Ready To Pop ( And Other Things You Shouldn't Say to Pregnant Women)

Are you guilty of saying one of these phrases? Before becoming a doula, I probably was. But as they say “know more, do better”, I am hoping to change that. When talking to pregnant women, or people we assume are pregnant, let’s start there; by not assuming anyone is pregnant. If you know for a fact that she is indeed pregnant, saying congratulations is great! If you follow up by asking the due date of the baby, here is what not to comment.

You look so big/small to be that far along.

If anyone is aware of their size and changing body, it’s pregnant women, so really and truly there is no need to comment about their body. In no other circumstance would it be normal to comment on someones size. And this goes for being “small” as well. Every women carries a baby differently and how it looks from the outside is not an indication of health of baby. Try instead…

You are doing a fantastic job!

It’s a great phrase while pregnant, and also while not pregnant. Win/win.

Another phrase that should be avoided…

You look tired.

Again, if there is anyone aware of how tired she feels, it is the pregnant mother. Between insomnia, going to the bathroom frequently and a belly making it harder to get comfortable, pregnant women are some of the tiredest people you will encounter. Try instead…

Is there anything I could help you with before the baby arrives?

She may not take you up on this, maybe she will. But genuine concern and trying to be helpful is always a good course of action.

And another unhelpful question…

Are you sure you’re not having twins/multiples?

Again, commenting on the size of the pregnant mother does not help her feel any better. It is better for her to volunteer that information herself. If the mom is expecting multiples, she is probably already hearing lots of well meaning advice about raising multiples, from people who have never had more than one at a time. Best to wish her well and move on!

And this oldie but goodie…

You look like you are ready to pop!

As a doula, I can tell you that babies do not cause mom’s belly to burst. There are two ways I know a baby can exit, and popping is not one of them. Mom’s may feel like they are going to pop with all the pressure and growth happening, so hearing that they look like it, is not necessary and unpleasant. Try instead…

When are you expecting your bundle of joy?

This is a sweet and different way to ask her due date that gives mom the option to be as vague as she wants.

If you are unsure of what to say to a woman who is pregnant, say congratulations, tell her how beautiful she looks, and tell her she will be a good mom. All the things she longs to hear. You can also offer her some chocolate, but really it’s just about being kind. Full of hormones, a baby, and possibly a weird combination of food, wish her well, wish her luck. She is going to need it. Her world is about to change.

Sarah Washington