Wondering how to talk to pregnant women? Here’s a list of shit you should never say to pregnant women about their bodies and some sassy responses for my mommas-to-be!
It’s that time again. Time for another classic Abbey Pregnancy Rant. I’m almost 33 weeks, I’m chronically hungry, pee every 30 minutes, haven’t slept well in months and I’m hormonal AF. So let’s just hop in before I have another snack attack, mmkay?
What the actual F is up with everyone needing to make comments to pregnant women about their bodies? Does every meal with an expectant mama need to revolve around the size or shape of her belly? Is that kind of information that imperative to your relationship with her or the unborn child?
More importantly, would you make the same comment to someone who wasn’t pregnant?
As I round out this pregnancy in my third trimester feeling large and uncomfortable myself, I can attest that people fucking LOVE to say shit to pregnant women about their bodies. They also like to touch, pat, and squeeze them like they would a grapefruit at Whole Foods. Even when it comes from a loving place, comments about pregnant women’s bodies are unsolicited, inappropriate and often just down right rude. Hello, it’s someone’s ACTUAL growing body, not dinner table talk. Even when you’re thrilled to be pregnant (trust me, I AM!), it can be really hard to watch your body grow and change so rapidly. Hearing comments, even well-intentioned ones, can really hurt. So please… just… DON’T.
Well if you’ve never been pregnant (or even if you have and you’ve forgotten how annoying this kind of stuff is), I wanted to share a few wee pieces of advice that will help you navigate how to speak to pregnant women about their bodies. And for my fellow mama-to-bes, next time you get one of these ass hole remarks, here’s how to respond to them.
Sh*t you Should Never Say to Pregnant Women About Their Bodies
“How much weight have you gained so far? Is that normal?!”
Why this line sucks: Do you ask non-pregnant people how much weight they’ve gained in a short period of time? No, because you’re not a total dick. Maybe the woman feels bad about the pace that she’s gained that weight, whether it’s been faster or slower than what all of the apps suggest is “normal”. You really don’t know where that momma sits in her relationship with her body, and for all you know, she could be BARELY holding on.
How to reply: “Oh I don’t even know, the doctor says baby is all good and I’m just listening to my body’s needs. That’s all that matters to me!”
“OMG you’re so tiny for X weeks!”
Why this sucks: I know people mean well when they tell you you’re small since being skinny is still seen as socially desirable (apparently even while pregnant!), but again, what if mom is worried about the small size of her belly? What if she’s unsure if this means her babe is not growing well or there’s something physically wrong? What if something IS physically wrong and she really doesn’t want to have to get into it with you?
How to reply: You can divert to the prior answer, or if you’re feeling sassy say, “Oh I didn’t know you were looking so closely at my body!” Ta da, the trolls have been officially shut down.
“Oh wow, are you sure you’re due in X weeks? You already look like you’re going to pop!”
Why this sucks: OK, this is just F-ing rude. Yes, OBVIOUSLY we know our due date. And yes, we OBVIOUSLY are not wanting to hear that we look like a Mack Truck well before our time.
How to reply: You can go with a polite, “Ha, yep, we’re going to have a big baby!” or a quick and dirty “STFU” with a smile. You’re choice.
“Are you sure it’s not twins?”
Why this sucks: Oh lord, again, this is ridiculous. No one has thankfully ever said this to me, but I know a lot of women who have heard it. If we were having twins and knew it, we would definitely tell you so you wouldn’t be such a total douche. Even if the offender means well, asking if you’re having twins is telling someone that they’re OBVIOUSLY looking huge. Just no.
How to Reply: This one is easy, I would say, “NOPE, just one bad ass baby!”
“YouR boobs are HUGE! Do you love it?”
Why this sucks: Don’t assume that all women want big boobs. Honestly, it might make some women (oh HEY THERE) uncomfortable to have to constantly be buying bigger bras, wondering if it will ever stop or slow down. Boobs may be a socially acceptable place for women to gain fat, but that doesn’t mean it’s open season to comment.
How to Reply: “Ha, well thanks for looking so carefully at my chest!” You 1: body shamers 0.
“How far along are you? You must be about X weeks!”
Why this sucks: INSIDER TIP – don’t try to guess how far along someone is. I see this “game” get played on a ton of my pregnancy Facebook groups and I cringe every single time I see someone guess a week that is really off. If you tell me I look full term, when I’m legit only 23 weeks, I’m probably going to want to punch you in the face.
How to Reply: “Nope, I’m only X weeks, but everyone is different in how they carry. I have still got a lot longer to enjoy the free foot massages and ice cream. By the way, can you get me… [insert favourite snack].”
Why this sucks: Ugh, I have heard this word a lot from certain family members and I just roll my eyes a little every single time. We’re not freak show exhibits, we’re just pregnant women doing something that is VERY natural to do. Unless that wow is going to be followed by “- you’re glowing!” just stop the sentence before it slips out.
How to Reply: Just cut them off before they can say anything else rude and reply, “I know right?! My body is BANGING!” Then strut away.
“Oh wow, well I guess you’re eating for two with a meal like that.”
Why this sucks: See what I mean by the wow statement? It rarely ends well. People love to watch pregnant women stuff their face, as if it’s some kind of Olympic spectator sport with non-stop commentary. The same way you wouldn’t (hopefully) make a bitchy comment about how much someone else is eating when they’re not expecting, you should really just zip it when there’s a baby growing inside. While no, pregnant women don’t usually need to double their caloric intake, they do need to eat more and they shouldn’t be shamed for doing what is best for babe. If this is consistently an issue, see this article on a wide range of comments and responses related to food shaming.
How to Reply: “Isn’t it amazing that I’m able to listen and pay attention to my body to help nourish my baby? It’s definitely a skill more people need to practice.”
As you can see, pregnant women put up with a hell of a lot more than just sore backs, bad sleep and morning sickness. And asshole remarks don’t make it any easier. I’ve written about my own experience gaining weight while pregnant here, and whenever I hear these statements I worry about how women may react. Those who have maybe struggled with body image or disordered eating in the past may have a particularly hard time dealing with the bodily changes associated with pregnancy. So when you make a comment, even a well-intentioned one, you may be setting her off on a dangerous path. So please, memorize this list (and consider any other associated statements) before visiting a pregnant friend or family member and just stop saying shit to pregnant women about their bodies.
For my mommas and momma-to-be’s out there, what shit have you heard said to pregnant women about their body that you think is rude?
What is the worst thing someone has said to you while pregnant about your body?
Leave me a comment below with your thoughts!
Updated on October 13th, 2020
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.