So someone you are close to is having a baby — what an exciting, joyous time. Well, I’m here to make it better, because I’m about to tell you the most important thing you can know, and it’s beautifully, elegantly simple.
Don’t comment on the mom’s size or appearance, or the baby’s size. Ever. Not one word. For nine months.
There is practically no chance that your comment is going to make the mother-to-be feel good. There is a very good chance, however, that something you say is going to make her feel worried or inadequate.
I’ve tried to answer the most likely questions in advance.
But what if I’m impressed that she hasn’t gained much weight?
You don’t know if that’s a compliment. She could be concerned about low birth weight. She could be fighting an ED and battling to eat a healthy diet. She might not be able to hold anything down.
But now she finally has big breasts! She never had them before, and she’s always complained about that.
So you are either going to remind her that she isn’t satisfied with her default boobage, or you are going to sexualize her pregnancy? She can tell you if she’s enjoying her changed body, NOT you.
What if I’m worried about her? It’s not healthy to gain (insert number here) pounds when you are pregnant. She’ll have a hard time getting that weight off/will get stretch marks/will have less energy.
If you are worried about her, then here’s what you can say: “How are you feeling these days?” Trust me, she has heard about all of those other things already from sources more authoritative than you.
But she looks sick to me!
OK, I’m not sure if I believe you are genuinely concerned, but here’s what I would suggest if you are really worried and not just roundabout snarking: Ask her if she likes her doctor, and see what she says. That way you’ll be able to remind yourself that she is under the care of a medical professional, which I’m assuming you’re not, AND you’ll be able to lend a sympathetic ear.
Can I say anything about her appearance?
If you want, you can say, “You look beautiful.” That’s it. Don’t tell her she is glowing, or that she looks like an earth goddess. We all know that’s code.
Can I ask her if she’s sure isn’t having twins?
We all know what you’re doing here.
Well, what if she IS having multiples? I mean, no one expects her to be anything but huge. Why can’t I say it then?
Remember, you’re a spectator at this event, not a participant. Despite that, your off-the-cuff, non-expert opinions still have the power to upset and stress out mothers-to-be, most of whom worry about their pregnancy at some point or another. Do you really want to do that?
If you really want to help someone have a positive pregnancy, or at least not to be another unpleasant thing to deal with, print out this paragraph, sign it, and give it to your pregnant friend or family member:
As a thoughtful, caring human being, I will not comment on your size or appearance, or the baby’s size during your pregnancy.
Your True Friend,
That is all.