Prev Next

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

By Amalah

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,
H

How to Deal With Rude Comments About Your Size

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.

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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 Ama...

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 [email protected].

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.

icon icon
chat bubble icon

Comments

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Teeny225
Guest
Teeny225

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!

Dana McDevitt
Guest

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…

MrsR
Guest
MrsR

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… Read more »

Julie
Guest

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.

Marilyn Porter
Guest

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.

Muirnait
Guest

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

AmyM
Guest

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… Read more »

Wallydraigle
Guest

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.

LadyBoyd
Guest

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… Read more »

Marnie
Guest
Marnie

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… Read more »

Deborah Svoboda
Guest

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??”

Suzy Q
Guest
Suzy Q

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… Read more »

Renee
Guest
Renee

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.

designingmama
Guest
designingmama

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… Read more »

Colleen
Guest

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… Read more »

Colleen
Guest

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”.

Michelle Potter
Guest

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… Read more »

dana
Guest
dana

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.

Carrie
Guest
Carrie

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.”

Caitlyn
Guest
Caitlyn

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.

Carly
Guest
Carly

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
Guest
chiquitabanana

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

Joyce
Guest
Joyce

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… Read more »

Deszrica
Guest
Deszrica

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… Read more »

chiquita
Guest
chiquita

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.

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

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… Read more »

Nevie
Guest
Nevie

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… Read more »

chiquita
Guest
chiquita

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… Read more »

Meredith
Guest
Meredith

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… Read more »

Martha
Guest
Martha

What is it about pregnancy that seems to remove people’s understanding of social boundaries? I can’t wrap my mind around it. Not just the belly-touching, but all manner of commentary on body image, health guidance for non-medical professionals, unsolicited parenting advice…I don’t understand what makes people think that it’s acceptable to treat people so inconsiderately just because they’re pregnant. I’m 32 weeks in to my first pregnancy (YAY!), but it’s been quite the rollercoaster. I’ve been on bed rest for 5 weeks for an incompetent cervix (seriously, Medical Community? Who named THAT condition?). We pPROM’d last week, meaning that my… Read more »

Ema
Guest
Ema

I actually am pregnant with twin boys and I’m 33 weeks.  I’ve gotten comments from all over the board.  Apparently sometimes I don’t look big enough to be pregnant with twins or I look like I might deliver tomorrow (thanks, cause with twins that’s a legitimate possibility).  My favorite comments are to enjoy the time I have left.  Really?! At my last appointment they measured me at 47 weeks.  (WHY they use the same tape as they use for a singleton I will NEVER know.)  There is nothing I enjoy at this point.  Except Rocky Road.

Jodie
Guest
Jodie

I’ve never pregnant, and considering I have a congenital heart condition I don’t ever want to have my own children, but this is why I won’t usually say anything to a stranger who is pregnant. I don’t want them to feel bad because I said something insensitive.
If I do, I’ll go a safe “Are you excited?” or an even safer “When are you due?”

You’re not going to be saying something insensitive if you ask questions like that, because it means you’re not assuming anything!

Lee
Guest
Lee

I’m due to have my first baby in a few weeks by C-section. I haven’t had problems with strangers. No belly touching or rude comments. I only notice them staring like they never seen a pregnant woman before. My problem is with people at work. I’ve been asked if I was due with twins, needing a bigger shirt, comments on swelling to guesses as to the gender of the baby by the way I am carrying, how long I am going to keep working and what names I have picked out. I didn’t reveal the gender to most people or… Read more »

Vanessa
Guest
Vanessa

I’m comforted to hear women talk about their mothers making inappropriate comments – I was so shocked when my mom was the one to say the most upsetting things to me. She started by telling me how I was big like she was when she was pregnant, and she got so fat “she didn’t recognize herself.” She would comment on my size every time she saw me, even after I told her it bothered me. I have a medical condition that necessitated an abdominal surgery two years ago and I was worried I would get quite large as a result,… Read more »

Anna
Guest
Anna

I was getting the “you’re so big already” comments by 5 months. I was so relieved when the nurse practitioner asked me how tall I am ( 5’3″) and said that if you have a shorter torso you tend to look bigger, and vice-versa. She summed up lots of what’s been said here. 

On a different note, does anybody else get unsolicited advice/questions about having an epidural? Hello, that’s my decision and my business, isn’t it? Sure, tell me your experience if you want to, but I don’t need to be told what I “should” or “will want to” do!

TM
Guest
TM

Thank you for posting. Ever since my first pregnancy, long before my baby had ‘dropped’ people kept telling me ‘the baby has already dropped!’ Or ‘you look like you’re about to pop!’ You can imagine how I look with my third pregnancy! Just like any other body part, please keep your comments about shape and size of my body parts to yourselves, people!

EBC
Guest
EBC

Yes! I hate that! Glad I’m not the only one. The epidural is a personal choice, and I really dont’ want anyone but my doctor telling me things I SHOULD do.

Nina
Guest
Nina

I am now 33 weeks along. I am petite, and carrying all in front. I have gotten both ends of the spectrum. I’m carrying twins (I’m not), not going to make it to term, my due date is off, etc. My mother in law asked if I was diabetic, and when told no, looked at my mom for confirmation because she didn’t believe me. The worst was a coworker who yelled across the floor, “starting to waddle, mama!” On the other hand, I had one manager who was completely oblivious and had to be told I was pregnant, 6months after… Read more »