Being pregnant is an exciting time in a woman’s life, but it can also be nerve-wracking, as well. Unnecessary comments from friends, family, and strangers can contribute added stress. These people might think that they are giving helpful advice, but instead they are just creating extra worry for the pregnant woman.
These remarks are not intentionally meant to be negative, but to pregnant women who are going through numerous physical and emotional changes in their lives already, such comments hinder more than they help.
Even if you were once pregnant, it does not give you the right to say anything you like, and assume you can relate, since every woman’s body reacts to pregnancy differently. A good way to make sure you are saying something positive is to consider how you would react if the question was turned back onto yourself, your sister, or a close friend.
Here are a few things that everyone should avoid saying to pregnant women:
PC: Mika Razafimbelo (Flickr)
1. “This period of pregnancy was really rough on me…”
Saying this may seem like you’re commiserating with a pregnant woman who may be suffering through debilitating morning sickness in her first trimester or having to deal with the aches and pains of the last few weeks before she gives birth, but it usually has a negative effect. Hold your tongue and instead say something positive and uplifting that will help her get through this difficult time. If you are especially close, ask her if she needs help with anything, from cooking to running errands for her.
PC: TajaTaja (Flickr)
2. “You look huge…”
This is a common phrase that is heard around pregnant women, especially in their final trimester, but it is not always encouraging. If a pregnant women looks big, chances are that she feels ten times bigger than she actually is. It is important to be sensitive towards a pregnant woman’s physical appearance and instead ask her neutral questions like, “do you know if it is going to be a girl or a boy?” Taking the focus off of her body and instead asking questions that are likely to bring her joy is an important way of showing your support.
PC: bradfordst219 (Flickr)
3. “[ … ] happened to me at this stage…”
Comparing your own pregnancy with hers, whether you were pregnant before, or are currently pregnant, is detrimental to all parties involved. Comparison in general is not productive in any situation, especially in terms of a deeply personal experience like pregnancy. Instead of comparing your physical experiences of pregnancy, try to focus on other similarities, like are you both having boys? What about the name selection process? Avoid discussing the process of the actual pregnancy and focus on subjects that are bound to bring you both joy.
PC: Thomas Pompernigg (Flickr)
4. “Pregnant women probably should not […]”
Any sentence that contains a negative statement like “should not” is an indicator that you are trying to offer your personal opinions on a topic. For pregnant women, they already have enough to worry about in their own minds, without unwanted input from others. Even if you are close friend or a family member, it is important to back-off on the unsolicited advice. If a mother-to-be wants your advice, she will ask for it.
PC: Jen (Flickr)
5. “Avoid eating […]”
The list of taboo foods a pregnant woman should avoid is extensive, but telling her that she cannot eat a certain item is more harmful than it is helpful. Her primary doctor should be the only one that consults with her about what she can and cannot eat. Every woman’s body is different during pregnancy and what is fine for one person may not be healthy for another. It is also important to take into consideration that there are different cultural beliefs surrounding a woman’s pregnancy that might influence what a particular woman may consider taboo.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com