Wondering What Not To Say To A Pregnant Woman? Follow The Golden Rule

Pregnancy can be a raw and emotional time. It can also be ecstatic, wonderful, and beautiful. It’s a time tied up in a bundle of hormones, as our bodies change and grow. We also feel the baby move, kick, flip, and turn. It’s also a scary time, as doctors talk about what could go wrong and some of us remember how other pregnancies ended and worry what will happen next.  

While I’d like to think you have all the best intentions, your words can hurt. Even if you don’t intend to make a pregnant woman cringe and sneak away, your words may be disrespectful, rude, and overly nosy. So, what should you NOT say? And then, what are some of the more kind things you can say?

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DON’T SAY: “Oh my, you look so pale and tired” or “Are you sure you’re ok?”  

Pregnancy is tiring and uncomfortable, with sleepless nights. But it really DOES NOT help when someone tells a pregnant woman that she looks tired and pale. About 56% of women work full time during their pregnancies, so is it really a shocker that we’re exhausted? Instead of pointing out the obvious signs of exhaustion, you can say something more positive.  

DO SAY: “You are amazing” or “You’re glowing!”  

Pregnancy often undercuts the possibility of feeling beautiful or sexy. Everything hurts. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s weight gain, swollen ankles, and bad skin. By telling a pregnant woman that she’s amazing, you might just be making her day. 

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DON’T SAY: “Wow, you’re huge” or “You look like you’re having twins” or “How scary! PREGNANT!”  

A pregnant woman knows her size and shape, because she’s been living in her body for the last few months as it continues to grow. She also has a fair idea whether she’s having twins. Your statement might make a woman think that you know better than she does. But, in our weight-obsessed culture, it’s just rude. Try something more positive.  

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DO SAY: “Congratulations” or “How far along are you?”  

A simple “Congrats” is just the right thing to say. You can ask “How far along are you?” if you’re actually interested. Don’t feel you’re obligated to strike up a long conversation with a pregnant woman just to be nice.

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DON’T SAY: “Can I touch your belly?”  

Worse yet, don’t lay your hands on a pregnant woman without her permission. Pregnancy does not automatically give you the right to feel up a woman, even if it’s someone you know and even if it is just her belly.   

Even if the pregnant woman might have normally been ok with the idea of you touching her belly, pandemic conditions over the last year have made us all a bit more cautious than usual. It’s simply not acceptable to assume that getting in her personal space, or even asking about it, is ok.  

DO SAY: “You are beautiful” or “Your belly is cute” or “Being pregnant suits you.” 

These are all compliments, but they are not mean-spirited or suggestive. You’re just telling her that she looks great, without reservation and without the request for touching her belly. Your goal is to encourage, make her feel great, and understand that you’re not judging her body. 

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Before All Else: Consider the Golden Rule 

While there are a ton of variants to the concept of the Golden Rule, the gist is simple: “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” So, consider how you’d want others to treat you if you were in a similar situation. But also consider that you don’t know what all she’s dealing with.  

She could be a single mother, feeling very alone. She could struggle with severe (or any) health issues like gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, etc. Maybe the ultrasound just showed worrisome results, or the blood tests showed potential concerns. A difficult pregnancy could also involve worries about employment, relationships, or even the state of the world right now. 

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You DO NOT KNOW WHAT SHE’S GOING THROUGH, so please don’t make it worse. If she volunteers her life story, tells you about her sleepless nights, and begs you for advice, you can offer further words of encouragement. I’ve always preferred to follow the old cliché: “If you can’t say anything NICE, say nothing at all.” 


What would you say to a pregnant woman? Or what would you recommend? Let us know what you think about it below in the comments!

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