stating the obvious.

where my heart resides

As Everett is underway in developing his vocabulary, he has started a lovely habit I like to refer to as stating the obvious. Wherever we are, whatever we see, he announces his observations as if I cannot see them with my own two eyes.

“Doggie!”

“Airplane!”

“Bird!”

“Water!”

I am 99% positive that this habit will get worse before it gets better. For now, I’m rolling with it and graciously applauding his speech and object awareness. I’m sure three months from now I will be more annoyed than proud, but I’ve vowed to fake enthusiasm for as long as I can.

But I digress.

Everett’s innocent declarations remind me of how often people feel the need to “state the obvious” when dealing with pregnancy. Once an expecting mother starts showing, a lot of people feel obligated to comment on the fact that she is showing, or rather—her body in general.

It’s weird, right? At no other time in life do friends and strangers alike walk around commenting on your body shape, right to your face, on a regular basis. Most people have really good intentions with this—they want you to feel confident and beautiful and good about yourself. And I’m sure some would argue that many expecting mothers seek out these types of comments by posting nonstop belly pictures on Instagram, etc. But no matter how we get there, the truth remains: those comments, even with the best of intentions, can sometimes come across as awkward.

Generally speaking, these are things you should not say to a pregnant woman:

1. “Oh my gosh you’re SO TINY! You’re not even showing at all! Where is the baby?!”

There are two problems with this: 1) It implies the mother is growing a freakishly small baby, and 2) It implies she looks exactly the same as she does when she isn’t pregnant, which to her, is probably not the truth.

2. “Oh my gosh you’re SO BIG! You look like you’re ready to pop!”

This is never, ever okay to say. To anyone. Ever.

3. “Are you sure there’s only one baby in there?!”

Nope. Don’t say that.

4. “You must be having a girl!” or “You must be having a boy!”

Carrying high, carrying low—I have no idea what the difference is, but to assume you know the gender of an unborn child by the shape of the mother’s stomach is not an acceptable comment. Keep your weird predictions to yourself.

5. “WHOA! You have gotten so much bigger since the last time I saw you!”

Yes, duh. She is growing a human, and also eating cheeseburgers on the regular. What did you expect? Leave it be, no need to be shocked.

6. “Wait, when is your due date again?”

This implies you are trying to figure out how much bigger she is going to get in the forthcoming weeks. Don’t do that.

7. “You are glowing!!”

We all know glowing is a nice way to say sweating. She is sweating. She is always, always sweating. There is no need to call attention to it. Being pregnant makes you ten degrees warmer than you usually are. It’s unfortunate.

Here’s the thing. You don’t NEED to say anything to a pregnant woman regarding her looks or her body. I think sometimes people think it’s rude to not acknowledge the baby bump, but let me tell you: saying nothing about her appearance is better than saying the wrong thing about her appearance. Having said that, if you absolutely positively feel the unavoidable urge to speak up, this is the best thing you can say:

“You look great!”

Three words. Repeat after me. You. Look. Great.

It’s simple, it’s sweet, it’s complimentary, and it does not refer specifically to her body or shape or weight gain in any capacity.

When I was pregnant with Everett, people commented on my body throughout my entire pregnancy, both online and at the grocery store. They said nice things and not very nice things and awkward things and sometimes touched me without asking, which made me very uncomfortable. And do you know what I remember the most about those comments and interactions? I remember my friend Camille, because she said the exact same thing every single time she saw me over the course of those nine long months.

Every time we saw each other, she smiled at me and said, “You look great!”

Not one word more, not one word less. It didn’t matter how pregnant I was, or what I was wearing, or whether or not I had makeup on.

And you know what? Every time I was around Camille, I felt great.

Knowledge is power. Go forth and make your pregnant friends feel great, too.

p.s. Please don’t take this post too seriously. It is meant to be 95% facetious. Also: Please don’t worry if you have said any of these things to me. I have said almost every single one to a pregnant woman at some point myself.
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58 Responses to stating the obvious.

  1. Angeline says:

    Yup, heard every single one of those. I had no idea, though, before I experienced it myself, so I cut people some slack.

    • Ashlee says:

      I am guilty of saying almost every single one of these before I had Everett. Now I just say “you look great!” and don’t even have to think about being appropriate 😉

  2. Suzy says:

    It’s funny to me to read lists like this of other peoples’ because mine would be so different. I loved hearing that I was small ( on days where I felt like a whale). When people said I was glowing, I thought they just meant I looked really happy, which I was. 🙂 when they asked when I was due, I thought they were just asking when I was due. Things like that. And when they commented on how big I was getting, which did happen every day, that weirdly made me happy too, because I’d waited so long for my bump and was excited that things had finally progressed past the point of only-I-know-there’s-a-baby, which was where three of my previous pregnancies ended.
    I’m not trying to say your list is invalid at all–you feel what you feel! Nothing wrong with that. Just that people often don’t know they’re being offensive because what they’re saying they wouldn’t mind hearing. Or they haven’t been there yet so they don’t know better. Or Whatevs.

    When we were dealing with infertility, i always wanted to write a list like this of things not to say to someone who’s not pregnant. (Why don’t you have kids? You need to get on this, kids are the best thing that ever happened to me. You don’t know what love is til you become a mother! Etc) I realized one day though that my running list in my head was actually destroying me, because it was like I was going around mentally daring people to say something off my list, waiting for the inevitable, and then feeling very justified in my hurt when they did what I knew they would. Truth is, a lot of people haven’t experienced infertility dotted with lost babies, so they just honestly didn’t know not to say those things. There was great freedom for me, and lots less tension and bitterness, when I threw out my mental list and gave people the benefit of the doubt. And since I didn’t know when my journey with infertility would end (six months? A year? Ever?) this was soooo important for my heart.

    I’m not trying to lecture at all; like I said, your feelings are very valid and it’s probably good for people to be reminded to be careful with their words. Just trying to offer a bit of perspective. 🙂

    • Ashlee says:

      I love your perspective, Suzy. I think it’s beautiful and embodies both grace and gratitude, two characteristics I know make up your heart.

      This list is not meant to be taken very seriously 😉 I wrote it to be facetious after a very long chat with a pregnant girlfriend where we lamented over the weird things people (strangers) say to you when you’re pregnant. We had a good laugh over the fact that for the next few months people will be commenting on our bodies constantly, and how when we really stop and think about that…..it’s kind of weird.

      I too, give people the benefit of the doubt, when they say things that make me feel uncomfortable. I know pregnancy is a miracle that often feels worthy of group commentary, and that people always have good intentions with their statements.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and keeping me in check…. xoxo

      • suzy says:

        Haha, I totally, totally get the weirdness of it. I really hope I didn’t come across as harsh or condescending. I really do think the world of you, and think you’re a very graceful and gracious pregnant woman. 🙂
        suzy´s last blog post ..{about blogging}

        • Ashlee says:

          Not at all. I love hearing when people have different opinions/perspectives than me….it expands my worldview. I adore you. Always have, always will. Keep doin what you’re doin 😉

    • I agree with you Suzy! I loved hearing almost everything on this list during my pregnancy!

  3. Suzy says:

    Ps- you DO look great! 🙂
    Suzy´s last blog post ..{snarky puppy}

  4. Christine says:

    Now I’m frantically racking my brain to think of what I said to you when I saw you last week, but if I didn’t say it then: YOU LOOK GREAT! Truth, girl–you’re rocking this pregnancy 🙂
    Christine´s last blog post ..The best of Sacramento, via Instagram

    • Ashlee says:

      HA. Girl, please. You always make me feel great. Although let’s be real, I was suuuuuper “glowing” after that long river walk. So fun to see you!

  5. molly yeh says:

    OY! i can’t even imagine.
    molly yeh´s last blog post ..bacon and egg shengjian bao (pan-fried steamed buns)

  6. Kim says:

    Ooo I thought of another good one. When you see a pregnant woman who has another child close in age, or maybe a lot of other children, I’ve heard women ask in some way or another “Was it planned?” – insinuating you’re crazy for wanting 5 kids or wanting 2 close in age, etc. Whether the answer to that question is ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ it doesn’t matter! She’s pregnant regardless and will love the baby whether it was planned or not.

    • Ashlee says:

      That is awful!! I had blood work done a couple weeks ago and the nurse asked the woman sitting next to me if her pregnancy was planned. My jaw dropped. Who says that?! No no no.

    • Marie says:

      I’m not pregnant but I have heard other women get asked that and I just can’t believe it. What would compel someone to let those words out of their mouth!?

  7. Jo says:

    Having never been pregnant I realize this automatically nullifies my opinion (and I might possibly regret feeling this way if I am ever pregnant) but I just don’t get posts like these. Don’t shoot me! I am totally guilty of saying some of these things mentioned above to pregnant girlfriends (never strangers, and I have definitely never called anyone ‘woah BIG’). It has absolutely always come from the best of intentions. These ‘what you should and shouldn’t say to a pregnant woman’ posts have become so popular it’s making me feel like I should just totally ignore the fact that a friend is pregnant when I am around said friend out of fear of coming across the wrong way and being hurtful.

    To me it seems so boring and superficial to say to a pregnant friend ‘you look great’ for 9 months long. Should I not mention her ever growing belly? I think this ties in with how being bigger in our culture is a bad thing. But there’s a baby growing inside of you, of course you’ll get bigger. So what?! But again … what do I know?! :s

    • Ashlee says:

      Pregnant or not pregnant, you have every right to your opinion! Thank you for sharing it 😉

      I just want to clarify: this post was written in fun and not meant to be taken very seriously. Of course you should acknowledge that your friend is pregnant! I think sometimes people default to conversations that stem all around the appearance of the expecting momma, instead of the bigger picture: impending motherhood. People can stare at a belly all day and touch it and make comments on how big/small you are, and all the meanwhile, not even ask how you’re feeling, or how you’re doing (emotionally, mentally). Sometimes it feels like the focus is 100% based on the physical aspect of getting bigger and nothing else. It’s just funny (and weird and awkward) because people will literally comment on what your body looks like for 9 months, and then some. After you have the baby, they are quick to say other things too (don’t worry, you’ll lose the weight soon enough!, etc).

    • Jo says:

      And now I’m afraid I came across as mean. I promise I’m not a meanie! 🙂

  8. Jo says:

    And I get your point too!

    • Ashlee says:

      Also worth mentioning: pregnant women are hormonal, emotional, extra sensitive, and extra self conscious most of the time. Proceed with caution 😉

  9. Nicole says:

    I’m not sure how I stumbled across your blog awhile ago, but so glad I did. I love your writing style!
    I love this. It’s so true. And yes, not everyone may feel this way…but from my experience and my friend’s…I think the majority do! I’m also so guilty of saying super awkward things myself, and after being pregnant, I just stick to the basics 🙂 I always tell moms-to-be that they are looking beautiful. Because they are. Big, small, or “glowing”, what’s not beautiful about bringing a sweet baby into the world?? 🙂
    You look beautiful Ashlee!

  10. Rachel says:

    I think unless you’re a close friend, you shouldn’t make any “size” comments. I never understood why it’s totally okay to make comments on a pregnant woman’s body, or to ask them questions about their breasts (as in “are you gonna nurse?”) I got a lot of “you’re so tiny, are you sure there’s a baby in there?” from strangers. While it was nice to be called “small” it also felt like a backhanded compliment – like I wasn’t eating enough for the baby. On the other hand, my boss would always remark “you’re going to pop any day now!” even when I was only like 20 weeks along.

    • Ashlee says:

      I felt that way when I was pregnant with Everett…..I know people meant it as a compliment, but it always made me feel defensive, like I was starving my baby or growing disproportionately or something. I’m sure most of that had to do with me being extra sensitive and self conscious, but still.

  11. Jennifer Roesch says:

    I definitely heard all of these…well, minus the “you’re so tiny” one haha. My favorite of all time was when someone told me that I had the “cutest waddle!” Umm, putting the word “cutest” in front of the word “waddle” doesn’t make me sound any less like a penguin. From that moment on I was so self conscious about how I walked, and I still had 2 months to go! Never, ever, tell a pregnant woman she waddles…no matter how “cute” it is! 🙂

  12. Ruthie says:

    Ha! I love this. so dead on. It really does peeve me when people made/make predictions about my baby (gender, size, etc), though.

    p.s. you look beautiful, momma!
    Ruthie´s last blog post ..It’s been awhile.

    • Ashlee says:

      Even worse than gender is when they guess how big the baby will be. Um, WHAT. Also, YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL! Bought that striped dress from H&M after seeing your adorable instagram photo. We can be maternity twins this summer 😉

  13. Trish Litke says:

    Yes, yes and YES! How about the awkward moment when a stranger says something about the belly and then does the mental “oh shoot I really hope she is pregnant and not just a big time beer drinker” moment? That happen to me at Macys on Mother’s Day. 🙂

  14. Ashley says:

    My favorite was: ‘Wow! You’re so big. How do you walk without falling over?!’

    No joke. Now it was a younger single guy, but STILL!

  15. Ashley says:

    Or this one!!! ‘My hairdresser is due the same time as you and you’re like triple her size!’

  16. Lauren Lemieux says:

    As a preggo well into month 7, I can certainly appreciate a little sensitivity. I know I’m making a beautiful human, but I still feel like a disgusting cow, so really “you look great” is exactly what I like to hear. And yes I am full of hormones, so those well-intentioned comments can make me weepy, even though I am fully aware people mean no harm. I enjoyed this post because it rings true and I shared it so people I know might read it!

  17. OMG. Ashlee, I so agree! Aside from the constant nausea, daily heartburn, awful back pain, and extreme water retention, the WORST memories of my pregnancy were some insensitive comments about my appearance offered by friends, strangers, and family members. Perhaps those critical comments hit me so hard because my love language is ‘Words of Affirmation’-or perhaps it is simply because all women have an innate desire to be perceived as lovely. Either way, I battled a depressed mental state anytime I dared to look in the mirror during my last 3 months of pregnancy. (I probably gained close to 20 pounds of water weight on top of the regular prego weight, so needless to say, my feet could only fit into flip flops and my bloated face looked like I had eaten salt by the tablespoon). All this to say, the times when people sweetly stated that I looked “great” were the times I truly felt the best. VERY accurate post. And btw, I am SURE you look GREAT! 😉
    Jessica Leavenworth´s last blog post ..stating the obvious.

  18. Danielle says:

    Amen sister! A post-comment pause, deep breath and smile was the only practice that got me through my second pregnancy. I’m so confused as to why a baby bump dissolves people’s ability to filter or keep their hands to themselves!
    Loved your posts today and I’m so excited to follow you through this pregnancy! Hope you’re feeling well 🙂

  19. Kelly says:

    I loved hearing “you look great” when I was pregnant too- and also after I had the baby 🙂 Still not over it actually… though the other day someone said to me “you look really great- you almost lost all the baby pouch, I mean some of it stays around no matter what” haha umm thanks… that’s actually my IBS bloat but sure let’s blame it on the baby. The only one you said I don’t agree with (for me personally) is the you look small comment- I got that a lot and always took it as a compliment but I know some people don’t like it so it probably belongs on the list!

    I see Jo’s point too- only because I read an article about what to do for a mom after the baby is born before I had a baby myself and it stressed me out so much. I felt like I could never do the right thing after a friend had a baby. Now that I had a baby myself I feel like the article I read was all wrong about what I wanted so it was probably all wrong about what others wanted ha ha. Anyway, I think saying “you look great” is definitely not something that could go wrong! Who wouldn’t like that?
    Kelly´s last blog post ..Great Grandmothers

  20. Gina says:

    Good to know! A lot of people in my life are getting pregnant these days, so I’m going to keep the “you look great” comment in mind.
    Gina´s last blog post ..What Makes Me Feel Like an Adult… And What Doesn’t (Part 2)

  21. Mitzie says:

    30 years ago after having a discussion with Kevin about how one does not state the obvious out loud; “Look Mommy. That lady is fat,” We approached the checkout stand at the grocery store with the checker who was in her 60’s and a little on the heavy side. Kevin, in his cute little 4 year old self said to her, “Are you going to have a baby?’ I gasped as I told him that was not a good question to ask. Feeling that he had been politically correct he responded with, “Well Mommy, I didn’t say she was fat!” Head down, quickly pay the clerk and left the store!!!

  22. Great post Ashlee! Though I have not had a baby (or intend to for a few years yet) I totally understand this. I have four younger brothers and being the only girl I helped out A LOT and also remember comments like these during my mum’s pregnancies. From this I think I’m a little more wary of what I say to pregnant ladies.

    I read through some of the comments too. I particularly liked your comment about how people often focus 100% on the physical aspect of pregnancy and neglect to ask how you feel and about the other aspects of motherhood.

    I also just had my first newborn shoot with a family and was very cautious about what I said as in my head I was thinking ‘well this lady has just had a baby and I’m taking her picture, she needs to feel good, compliment her, tell her she looks great’ and show some interest in the other aspects so we had a full dialogue throughout about how the baby was feeding and how her toddler was dealing with the new addition to the family etc. It definitely made mum feel more at ease. By the way, you DO look great!

    XO
    Sarah-Louise B´s last blog post ..Weekly Wishes #3

    • Ashlee says:

      Thanks Sarah! Ahhh, I do SO many newborn shoots and it is my most favorite thing in the world to make new mommas feel beautiful. I always make sure to take a lot of pictures of the mom, in the best light, where the focus is more on her than on the baby. I just think that is such a beautiful picture to have in your possession, to be able to look back and see yourself as a brand new mom and think: “I looked so pretty and so happy.” Sounds like you did a great job making that mom feel good about herself!

  23. jena says:

    I somehow managed to avoid people’s random comments. It’s probably my resting bitch face; I’m not very approachable. …. until one day we were shopping and some random old lady tells me I’m going to have a GIANT baby.. Oh, well.. Okay then. Thanks.

  24. Sarabell says:

    Ugh I remember all this. I also hate people touching my belly without asking (a friend told me she turned around and touched the other person’s back once and they never did again!), asking whether or not a baby’s conception was intentional (does it matter??) and the worst, someone actually asked me if my husband was circumcised. I didn’t even know that person so I’m still kind of reeling from that particular question.
    Sarabell´s last blog post ..Ain’t as Good as I’m Gonna Get But I’m Better Than I Used to Be

  25. Callie says:

    I loved the “but you’re too early for back pain” or “you shouldn’t be waddling yet!” People please!! If I’m uncomfortable, I’m uncomfortable!!! And it’s ok to be! Every pregnant body is different.. By pointing it out you make me feel like a goose… Or a duck.. Or whoever waddles..! Xx

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  27. michelle says:

    SOOOOO true. I think the “You look great” really is the best solution, think I’ll put that in my back pocket. The one comment I didn’t mind was “You’re glowing!” Ever since I was little I heard people say that about pregnant women and I loved the idea that I could be one day have that maternal glow.
    michelle´s last blog post ..Weeknight Baking: Rhubarb Crisp

  28. Tammy says:

    I relate so much to this. Recently a friend of my mom’s said, “wow she really is pregnant” well, yeah, but I am carrying a baby, so… Am I not supposed to? I felt a little disrespected the way she said it about me instead of to me. But, as you said, people seem to think pregnancy is the perfect time to say what they want about our bodies as women. I disagree though, haha!

  29. Molly says:

    When I was pregnant, I heard every single one of these. #1 and #4 were the only ones that bothered me though. “When are you going to start *looking* pregnant? Are you feeding that baby?” Oh hell no. I didn’t appreciate that at all. A variation of it though that was a little sweet was the friend I bumped into at a wedding who couldn’t stop saying “Oh my gosh you don’t look pregnant at all! You look so good! Your arms are still so thin!” Apparently she’d only ever encountered pregnant women with chubby faces and arms. I knew she was complimenting me, so it didn’t bother me as much as suggesting I was starving myself and my unborn child.
    The gender predictions were always awkward. I knew I was having a girl but women would stop me on my way back to my desk from the millionth bathroom break to tell me I was definitely having a boy because I didn’t look pregnant from behind. And girls steal your beauty but I still looked good. I shouldn’t be surprised if I end up having a boy. No, no, and no. Stop asking me to twirl for you so you can look at my ass.
    From what I can tell, I’m almost completely alone in being proud when someone told me I looked huge or that I’d gotten so much bigger. I was extremely proud of that comment. Maybe because if you weren’t looking at my midsection, you wouldn’t know I was pregnant save for my nose being a little bigger. So for me, it meant that my baby was growing and healthy. I took it as a huge honor to be a big ‘ol pregnant lady! But overall I do agree that it’s weird how comfortable total strangers are with commenting on a pregnant woman’s appearance. I’m guilty of a lot of those phrases too, if I’m being honest. There’s just something about babies that make everyone crazy!

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