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How to Respond to Dumb Things People Say to You When Pregnant

Apr13

by

Dear Amy-

Ugh- why is it that most people feel a need to comment on how you look when you are pregnant? I remember this with my first but it seems to be happening all the time with my second.

My belly is big- I am due in late May and am measuring right on track but yes, I look like I swallowed a large ball. My first son was big- 9.5 lbs and 22 inches (my husband is 6’4). My belly was also really big with him.

Most people say to me- “oh no way you are going to make it until your due date, or even May”. Thanks but I really don’t want to hear that I might only make it a few more weeks and have a premature baby.

I don’t have a problem requesting (if someone tries) to please not touch my belly. Maybe some people don’t mind but for me it feels like an invasion of my personal space.

So what do you say to those who seem to think they know when you will deliver or that I look so big???!! I mean even when you are pregnant I don’t think any woman wants to hear how big she looks!

Ok, vent over and any suggestions appreciated!!

P.S. Congratulations on your pregnancy!

Thanks,
Hillarie

As a fellow gestater of big babies, let me tell you that OH MY LANDS, I KNOW. Everybody and their mailman commented on my belly size last time, including MY mailman. Everybody had a prediction of early labor and towards the end I got a lot of comments about carrying Noah down in my knees, because he’d so obviously “dropped.”

AMY’S DOCTOR: No, he hasn’t dropped at all. In fact, his head is still quite high.

In the end, I safely went into labor the day after my due date (or possibly ON my due date, depending on which one I went with), and Noah remained solidly “undropped” and very high, right up until the moment they finally decided to go in and yank him out through the window.

IN SUMMARY: Whatever, people.

The thing is, though, that these comments are pretty meaningless — annoying, but meaningless. The predictors of early, imminent labor probably think that’s what a hugely pregnant woman wants to hear and aren’t thinking about it in the terms we do (i.e. prematurity, NICU stays, incubators and breathing assistance). And the “oh my God you’re so BIG” people probably just can’t think of anything else to say. Now throw in TMZ.com and the tabloids going on and on about how a five-months-pregnant celebrity is SO BIIIIIG and ABOUT TO POPPPP OMG, and you realize that most people really have no concept of just how big the stomach of the average full-term pregnant lady actually gets.
Thus, I never really thought these comments deserved anymore thought or response than a dismissive “oh, I think we’ll make it to just fine, actually.” Or “well, he seems pretty comfortable in there, so hopefully he’ll stay put.” Or “yes, I’m a giant beached whale, thanks for reminding me, would you like to comment on my swollen ankles while you’re at it?”

OK, so maybe occasionally I did snap at a person or two, usually if they continued to push the issue after I’d already responded as politely as possible. Most of the time I wouldn’t even dignify it with words, though. A vague “mm-hmm, yep, so I’ve been told,” or something.

(On the flip side, my girlfriend was constantly told how SMALL her belly looked during her pregnancies, and not as a compliment. Even though her babies were both born full-term and healthy, she never got the huge, beach-ball belly. So people would insinuate that there was something wrong with her or her baby or that she wasn’t eating enough out of vanity, or something. You just can’t win with the unwashed masses, ladies.)

It’s tempting to want to school the early-labor people on the real insensitivity of those remarks (what if you’d previously had pre-term labor? what if you’d previously lost a baby to pre-term labor? ack!)…so…you would get no judgment from me for unleashing a full-on “please don’t even JOKE about something serious like that” tirade on the next person who brings it up.

When someone says something truly ignorant that could truly wound someone who has been through it, sometimes I think you’re justified to toss politeness out the window and point this out. Even if they didn’t really mean anything by it, explaining why this is Not Really A Cool Thing To Say Ever just might make them stop and swallow those words next time. Or not, if they are just that much of a jackass. In that case, whatever, and waddle away.

Readers? Any especially memorable comments or comebacks?

Don’t forget to visit Amalah’s Weekly Pregnancy Calendar.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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29 Responses to “How to Respond to Dumb Things People Say to You When Pregnant”

  1. Teeny225 Apr 14 at 11:46 am Reply Reply

    I’m not pregnant, and I don’t have children yet so I’ve never been there myself, but I don’t understand people that act all surprised at big preggy bellies…
    I mean, there’s a whole other human in there!

  2. Dana McDevitt Apr 14 at 12:14 pm Reply Reply

    I had the biggest problem with strangers…when I got the whole “you’re giant!” speech I would pretend like I wasn’t pregnant at all and that they had seriously just offended a fat lady…far more embarassing for them then me. And I would promptly follow all attempts to touch my belly with my own attempt to touch theirs.
    That generally got the point across. I was a pretty ornery pregnant lady…

  3. MrsR Apr 14 at 12:22 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you, Amy, for mentioning that smaller-bellied pregnant ladies can be upset by comments about their size as well. My belly never stuck out as much as some people’s, even though both my kids were full term and around 8.5 lbs. My doctor said it has something to do with ample room in the abdomen and wide hips. So, great. But comments about my small belly really upset me and made me worried the baby wasn’t growing properly. One thing I learned during pregnancy is that a large belly does not always equal a large baby, and a small belly does not always equal a small baby. The way the belly appears often has more to do with the mother’s body. In short, it’s just not polite to comment on a pregnant woman’s belly, whether it’s big or small.

  4. Julie Apr 14 at 12:31 pm Reply Reply

    How’s this for awkward: I had a pregnant co-worker, whose belly I NEVER ASKED TO TOUCH, rub mine and tell me that having a child was one of the most rewarding experiences I could ever hope for. I was not pregnant. I do not know if she thought I was or if she was just getting in the reciprocating zone. That did it for me and never wanting the touch/being touched in the stomach experience to happen again.

  5. Marilyn Porter Apr 14 at 12:46 pm Reply Reply

    I am one of the “small belly” type ladies and while people I think DID mean it as a compliment when they would remark how small I was, I was enough of a paranoid pregnant woman and indeed *felt* large enough that these comments bothered me. It was almost as if I didn’t have any reason to feel uncomfortable or complain since I didn’t look that big. Whatever.

  6. Muirnait Apr 14 at 12:47 pm Reply Reply

    I usually just say, “Wow, you look great, how much longer?” That seems safe ;)

  7. AmyM Apr 14 at 1:02 pm Reply Reply

    With my first baby, I got big. REALLY BIG. (Come to think of it, I got that way with all 3.) Everyone always pointed that out to me, like I was too dumb to notice on my own.
    My favorite comment came from a woman working at a kiosk in the mall. It was December, she asked me when I was due. I said “March 12″. She then got this look of horror on her face and said “OMG, you will NEVER make it that long.” Hey kiosk lady, I actually made it to March 22. So f-u!
    Also, my sister’s husband saw a picture of me when I was 8 months pregnant with my 3rd. He said “Wow. That is the biggest pregnant woman I have ever seen.” Yeah, thanks.
    People should not comment on how pregnant women look. Period. Unless it’s to tell them that they’re pretty.

  8. Wallydraigle Apr 14 at 1:30 pm Reply Reply

    On the touching of the belly: Reach right back and pet his or her belly. Or head. Bonus points if it’s a bald man.
    I would never do this to, say, a sweet little old lady. But it’s hilarious to do it to people you are pretty sure can take it. It’s funny, and it makes the statement you want to make.

  9. LadyBoyd Apr 14 at 1:51 pm Reply Reply

    There was a man at my church who made a distinct point to tell me as soon as he found out I was pregnant that I needed to be careful and eat too much because otherwise I would “blow up” and never lose the weight and my husband would thus “lose interest” in me. He reiterated the theme several times during my pregnancy and it never failed to upset me on a variety of levels:
    1. Was he saying that I had no will power?
    2. Was he implying that my husband loved me only for my body?
    3. Was he implying that I already was known to eat too much?
    4. What IDIOT tells a pregnant woman to a go on a diet? Which he also did. In so many words.
    I concluded that there are just stupid people in the world who don’t think about how their “well meant advice” is going to affect the person they are advising. He was a member in the choir my husband directs and I needed to keep things polite with him, so I did the “mm hmm. I’ll keep that in mind” response….

  10. Marnie Apr 14 at 4:49 pm Reply Reply

    While I did often snap back, the very serious suggestion I have that helped me in the long run is to practice smiling and saying “I’ll take that into consideration” or “I’ll talk with my doctor.” I say this not because I think these people don’t deserve to have their heads chewed off, but because those of us who have been down this road know that the preganancy comments are only the tip of the iceberg. Once the baby’s actually here, the “advice” and “observations” are more voluminous and annoying, and trying to come up with a sarcastic remark for everything left me exhausted and irritated. I found it much easier to just say “gee, I’ll think about that” and promptly forget everything they just said. It worked wonders for my hormonal frame of mind.
    Also, I initially thought that the touching of the belly was the biggest invasion of privacy I had ever known. Until I was nursing at the mall one day – completely covered up except for the top of my daughter’s head – and a nice grandmotherly-type came over and was trying to touch the top of her head. YES. WHILE I WAS BREASTFEEDING. Her husband actually grabbed her and dragged her away. OMG.

  11. Deborah Svoboda Apr 14 at 4:52 pm Reply Reply

    My “favorite” comment was the one where another woman remarked on how (at 7 months) I “finally” looked pregnant, because before then my boobs and belly were having a race. Yeah lady, I already know I’m zoned for dairy, thanks for rubbing it in.
    Oh and there was the “wink wink, nudge nudge” comment about the gender I was carrying based on the position I was in at conception. I was very proud to say that I think I made a 55 year-old woman pee herself by responding, “OMG…I’m gonna have a puppy??”

  12. Suzy Q Apr 14 at 5:31 pm Reply Reply

    I’ve had two complete strangers in my life ask me if I was pregnant. Both times I was not. The first time not only was I not even overweight, I was stuck in and elevator with him for a looong ride. This was more than 20 years ago and I still remember it vividly, including what I was wearing.
    The second time was by a woman, who should have known better than to ask, and at that time, I was only about 20 pounds overweight. Both times, I was mortified.
    Fucking morons.
    Go, pregnant ladies with your snarky selves! You put those touchy-feely and innappropriate-commenting assholes in their place!
    (LOVE the puppy comment. Hee!)

  13. Renee Apr 14 at 10:31 pm Reply Reply

    Oh my word, can I relate.
    At 32 weeks, I would get a “OHMYGODYOU’REHUGE” at least three times a day. Most would ask if I was having twins.
    At least twice, I heard, “You’re not going to make it to your due date”. Then, at 33 weeks, I went into preterm labor. Thankfully, I was able to make it to 36 weeks (hospital bed rest), and my baby boy was born healthy, but now I can’t wait to go back to these people and give them a guilt trip.

  14. designingmama Apr 15 at 9:53 am Reply Reply

    I’m five feet even, and my husband’s six-five. All three of my babies were Two. Feet. Long. So obviously, they had nowhere to go but straight out. It was handy, having that table/book-rest right there in front of me, but the comments were outrageous. All a pregnant woman really wants to hear is how fantastic she looks, and what a great mom she’ll be. I didn’t really have any good comeback, except for the time that the very rotund man (in an elevator!) reached over and patted my belly, asking “When are WE due?” I patted HIS belly and said “I’m due in February, how about you?” I think that poor man got off a few floors earlier than his constitution could take!

  15. Colleen Apr 22 at 3:45 pm Reply Reply

    I normally have a waistline of about 28 inches, give or take, but with both my pregnancies, I topped-out at about 43 inches. I’m short-waisted, so each my kids had nowhere to go but straight out in front of me. At 30 weeks, I kept getting those kinds of comments that I wasn’t going to make it and my mantra would be something like “well, as long as we make it to I’ll be happy!” And when I was about 36 weeks with my youngest, a couple of guys at the grocery store asked when I was due. I gave them the date. One remarked, “are you sure you’re not carrying twins?” and his friend felt the need to one-up him by asking, “or triplets?” I scowled at them both, then put my hand on my belly and feigned pain and did some showy-blowy breathing. The look on those guys’ faces was good enough for me!

  16. Colleen Apr 22 at 4:20 pm Reply Reply

    ok, my comment might make more sense if typepad hadn’t deleted what I put inside carrots. :)
    my mantra would be “well, as long as we make it to (insert 37th week date) I’ll be happy”.

  17. Michelle Potter Aug 02 at 12:56 am Reply Reply

    Since I just had a baby less than two weeks ago,this top is near and dear to me. I’m apparently the type that people feel the need to continually comment that I “don’t look that big.” I could never figure out if it was a compliment, or an insinuation, but since I was already nervous about the fact that I only gained 4 pounds the whole pregnancy, it was a kind of nerve-wracking thing to hear.
    I also knew a woman during my second pregnancy who constantly went around telling people that I was so much bigger this time than with my first baby — only she didn’t know me during my first pregnancy and I have no idea where she got this idea. It was so awkward to have her talking about me like she knew, when *I* wasn’t even sure that I was bigger that time around.

  18. dana Aug 08 at 3:08 am Reply Reply

    now that i’m pregnant with my second, people are still bring up how HUGE i got last time. I had a really big baby (over 10 lbs) so my belly did get really big, but I don’t think I need to still be hearing about it 4 years down the road. I’m hoping this time around i’ll have something quick witted to say if anyone approaches me with the big belly comments.

  19. Carrie Sep 21 at 3:00 pm Reply Reply

    I am 5’4″ with a a very short torso, and I’m in my second pregnancy. So the belly has nowhere to go but straight out. At 27 weeks I look like I could be full-term. So I get these comments all the time too. I’ve never used this, but I will if the right opportunity presents itself: “No, I’m not pregnant. It’s a tumor.”

  20. Caitlyn Jan 22 at 11:37 pm Reply Reply

    this is an older column, but some topics never get old, right?
    I’ve gotten a bunch of “you finally look pregnant!” remarks, which are really irritating. But the WORST comment was when a bunch of older ladies in my congregation were praying for me (which was very sweet of them) and one of them commented “you may be carrying it, but it’s our baby!” I was flabbergasted. And really really mad, but I couldn’t really say anything. I couldn’t remember afterwards who had said it, which is probably just as well.

  21. Carly Jan 17 at 3:06 pm Reply Reply

    At 8weeks I posted a pic of myself with a chalk board that said 8weeks in probably 2foot tall letters and one of my Facebook “friends” said that I was carrying really high, so it must be a boy…. Hello, I’m only 8weeks pregnant! If that bump is baby then my uterus is located where my liver should be. Thanks for pointing out that I’m a little overweight to begin with.

    • chiquitabanana Feb 16 at 1:48 pm Reply Reply

      This is why you should just never announce before you’re 3 months among many other reasons.

  22. Joyce Jun 21 at 4:26 pm Reply Reply

    I havent had many remarks from people who didnt know i was pregnant yet. At my job i wear big shirts as a part of my uniform, and they just make me look like a big woman. Not necessarily a pregnant one. My boss however has been making remarks that annoyed me to bits. His wife has had 4 healthy kids but unfortunately the last two pregnancies she was in have both ended in a miscarriage. I understand how that has got to be awful but how is this a good reason to keep reminding me that things could go wrong any time? Every time i had been to a checkup, i would get asked how things went, only to be downtalked at anything i said. My checkups have always been fine, my boss has kept telling me how things could go wrong until i think 20 weeks into pregnancy. Thatnk goodness i am now at 33 weeks, pregnancy leave starts after next week. I have sciatic nerve pains but since boss’s wife never had those, i probably dont have them either. UGH. Nobody else has been this rude to me thankfully. Also nobody has tried to touch my belly. Lets hope it stays that way.

  23. Deszrica Oct 16 at 11:23 am Reply Reply

    When I was 7 months pregnant with my son, I went to a doctor appointment and the nurse went on a mini speech about how my BMI was too high, and how it’s not healthy so I should start a nutrition and exercise regiment soon… I let her finish her tirade then asked “does BMI count when you’re pregnant?” Her jaw dropped and she gasps “you’re pregnant?” I told her I indeed was 7 months pregnant and she then promptly told me I was too small to be 7 months pregnant and even got all the other nurses to come look at me and comment at how small I was! So which was it? I’m too fat to be “normal and healthy” or I’m too small to be pregnant?! (And how is that not written on my chart?)
           my son was delivered at 32 weeks and even though he was preemie, he has always done very well and is a wonderful 2year old today. I am currently 8 months pregnant with my second and my chiropractor insensitively told me when I was 6 months that I “would not go full term because of how my ligaments and hips were presenting” and that she believed I would only carry a few more weeks… And she was aware of my son’s early delivery! Thanks, cuz I wasn’t already paranoid about another preemie! (Even though my son’s delivery was a special case and I’m 8 months now and doing well)… People need to learn to just keep their trap shut and learn some tact! 

    • chiquita Feb 16 at 2:01 pm Reply Reply

      You shouldn’t be so sensitive about what your chiro said. They are professionals and looking out for your best interest. It’s different when they are part of your medical care.

  24. Kelly Dec 28 at 6:55 pm Reply Reply

    I loved reading all these comments!  I’m usually a “nice” pregnant lady but I hate all the big belly comments!  Sometimes I just say thank you, other times I pretend I’m not pregnant!  I’m huge but my baby is healthy!  Actually, I’m not really HUGE…I’m measuring right where I should be but we all FEEL HUGE, right?  Afterall, we are growing another human IN OUR BODIES!  6 years ago I have birth to a 10lb baby.  She was 17 days late and super sturdy!  I was happy but sadly, ppl make just as many “big belly” comments as they do “big baby” comments.  On my way out of the hospital a nurse stopped me and said, awwwwwww what a cute baby!  What’s she, 3 months?  I just laughed and said, 2 days!  She was shocked!
    I’m pregnant again, at 36 weeks right now and I hate when ppl say, oh hopefully you’ll go early!  I almost always reply, yeah thats what every mother wants, a premature baby!  And the belly rubbing thing I don’t mind.  Rub away…i like it!

  25. Nevie Jan 12 at 4:38 am Reply Reply

    I’m 5’3 and carry my pregnancies all up front. I work in an environment fill with women who always feel the need to comment, usually negatively. When I was pregnan with my first I got the ” OMG you’re huge!” Comments towards the end of my pregnancy and really didn’t know how to answer back. When I was only about 27 weeks prego with my second child, one of the supervisors felt the need to tell me how huge I was, and “are you sure you’ll make it to full term?” Not only was this question rude it was in a large gathering. I immediately responded, ‘at least I’m pregnant, what’s your excuse…’ She wished she’d never asked that. Embarrass.com
    I’m now only 14 weeks pregnant with my 4th child and have a condition called diastasis recti and my belly is now poking out earlier than previous pregnancies and to top it off, I have gas/bloating and constipation so I could easily pass for 6 months. Lol. Everyone thinks I’m having twins that I don’t mind because my belly noticeably large and depending on who the comment is coming from, I tell them there’s only one showing on the ultrasound. The comments I’m now getting tho are: “you all may end up with five kids if another one is hiding behind the other.. How are you going to put them through collage…even four kids is a lot… Are you going to have your tubes tied… Are you looking for a boy/girl…you must have your hands full at home…” Whew! I’m cooking up some smart answers for them. Any tips? chocolite0315@mgmail.com

  26. chiquita Feb 16 at 2:43 pm Reply Reply

    I’ll be 5 months pregnant soon, my first pregnancy. The only person who keeps making rude comments is my mom. Every time she see’s me she says “your stomach shouldn’t be that big yet…don’t you have any abdominal strength? You look 2 months further along than you are.. etc etc etc

    Along with annoying questions about why I haven’t chosen a name yet and she actually expected me to have a name chosen at 2 months along.
    So I told her we chose Cleetus, oh man the look on her face was just priceless.

    On valentines day she called me incessently because she wanted to know the gender, even though I told her our US tech was not going to tell us we have to talk to our dr later. She is so annoying!!!

  27. Meredith Mar 30 at 9:14 am Reply Reply

    This is my third pregnancy–33 weeks.  First two were girls, this is a boy. With the first two, I have to admit I was huge. Got the “are you having twins?” comments all the time, “No way are you going to make it to your due date” “You look like you’re ready to pop!” (at 5 months pregnant), etc.  
    This time around, I just carry differently, along with the fact that chasing after a 5 and 3 year old burns a lot more calories with this pregnancy than previous ones AND I finally figured out that pregnancy doesn’t always give you a free pass on eating a whole box of Oreos (they were the organic ones though!).  Anyways, NOW I get the comments of “Are you sure you’re ____ weeks? You’re tiny!!”  Oh good, I’m glad you’re implying my baby may be underweight and I’m not growing correctly.
    So seriously, you can’t win.  People need to realize that the only thing they should say to a pregnant woman is “You look great!”  I wish I would have learned much earlier, with my previous pregnancies, not to let those comments get to me.  :)

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