What NOT to Say to Pregnant Women, New Mothers, & Women Who Don’t Have Children
We’ve all been there. That moment of thinking: Did they really just say that? Or, maybe worse: Did I really just say that? Here’s a quick guide on what not to say to pregnant women, new mothers, and women who don’t have children.
“Your boobs are huge!” First of all, try to stop looking at her boobs—it’s rude. If people gain weight, we don’t just bust out, “Your belly is huge!” Don’t be an asshole.
“You’re going to pop any day!” Yep, nothing makes a pregnant woman feel better than to have a stranger point out her size. I hear mamas rant about this when they have weeks left in their pregnancy—you can’t tell how far along a pregnancy is. No matter how big she looks to you, she still may have months left before delivery.
“You are huge!” Again, just don’t be an asshole.
“Are you sure there aren’t two babies in there?” See above.
“Why?” Just don’t ask. Unless you’re looking for specific advice, it’s none of your business to ask. Why did she schedule an abdominal birth? None of your business. Why does she have more than two kids? None of your business. Why did she make that decision on how to feed, vaccinate, or educate her child? None of your business. Why doesn’t she have kids? None of your business.
That last “why” I’ve heard a lot. It really bothers me. I’ve never once considered having a baby. There’s nothing wrong with me; nothing happened. It’s not something I decided—it’s just who I am. When a woman asks me, “Why did you decide not to have children?” I respond with “Why did you decide to have children?” Queue shock. Queue look of deep offense. (Yeah, I know, how rude.) Queue the typical response: “I never decided; I just always knew I wanted them.” Perfect response. And, guess what, mine is the same. I never decided anything; I just always knew motherhood wasn’t for me.
“Are you back to your pre-pregnancy weight?” Are you trying to get punched? No one should ever remark about another person’s weight. Why would that change during pregnancy and postpartum?
“You have to breastfeed.” You don’t have to do anything. Human milk is incredible for so many reasons, but the “Breast Is Best” campaign misses the mark. Some women can’t produce milk. Breast cancer survivors are often left without milk ducts. Some women are on medication that makes breastfeeding unsafe. Sometimes a woman’s milk never comes in. On top of all that, breastfeeding is really, really taxing on the body. So many women struggle, and with “Breast Is Best” hanging over their heads, they inevitably feel like shit.
How about instead of “Breast Is Best” we say something along the lines of: “Support Each Family’s Choice,” or even wilder: “Help Each Other”? I can get behind that, and the movement toward milk-sharing, and the end of feeding shaming forever.