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.
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.