“Oh my goodness, you look terrible!” A well-meaning acquaintance said to me in the foyer after church one Sunday morning. Talk about a rude comment!
I was about 34 weeks pregnant at the time.
My second pregnancy was not an enjoyable one. On top of the constant and extreme morning sickness came SPD, (making it almost impossible to walk) heart palpitations (which scared the living crap out of me) and anemia, which made me want to hibernate for the remaining weeks of my pregnancy.
I did look terrible. She wasn’t wrong. My pale face was telling the world how exhausted I was. I also felt terrible. However, she really didn’t need to say those words to me. They hurt me deeply. It took every ounce of my energy to haul myself out of bed that morning and go to church.
Both of my pregnancies left me feeling antisocial during the last trimester. It was a big deal to shower, get the 3-year-old ready and leave the house, knowing I’d run into over 100 people I’ve known for years and listen to their comments about my state of pregnancy.
In fact, those comments were probably the greatest annoyance of my third trimester. Not the recurring nausea, the chronic fatigue, the inability to walk, the heart palpitations, trying to parent my very energetic 3-year-old or the fact that I was the size of a mid-80’s Buick.
It was the rude comments.
I heard the cliché ones:
- “Are you sure it’s not twins in there?”
- “You look huge!”
- “You’re about to pop- when are you due again?”
- “Are you sure they got the due date right?”
- “You’re still pregnant?” -that one was said when I still had more than 6 weeks to go. Ouch.
They mean well
A lot of adults really don’t know how to talk to a pregnant woman. So they comment on the first thing they see: your size. Or they try to relate in some way but don’t do a good job of it (hellllloooooo birth horror stories!). Sometimes their good intentions spill out in unwanted advice.
It’s something that every generation of pregnant women endures. In general, people mostly mean well though, they really do! What they may not realize though, is the vulnerable woman behind that beautiful bump that really can’t deal with the comments.
If you say “they mean well” to yourself, it can really help with what’s going on inside your pregnant brain as they speak the unthinkable. If you look at them through this lens, you may just be able to muster some sympathy or a flash a fake smile and move on. Remember, this pregnancy is a blessing *smiles through gritted teeth*
How You Perceive Things While Pregnant
One thing that I always strive to do (pregnant or not) is to evaluate whether I am taking offense because of some other factor (probably the hormones during pregnancy, TBH).
- Do I have myself in a tizzy over a banal comment?
- Is this something I should ignore? Or should I address it?
- Is it worth the energy to get upset about what they’re saying, or should I move on and focus on my pregnancy?
This filter is my first line of defense. If I’ve always got my hackles up, looking for something to be offended about, I’m sure to find it.
Instead of dwelling on those comments, why not prepare for your last month of pregnancy, or your first week postpartum? Or have a laugh? There’s also the getting ready to breastfeed, pump or formula feed. Do you know what you’re going to be doing during your maternity leave?
Being pregnant creates a massive to-do list. My advice to you is to focus on that instead of rude comments. You’ll get more done and feel saner in the process 😉
Be As Kind As the Queen You Are
In the internet age of outrage, many pregnant women really want to reach for their sarcastic or sassy comebacks, but this can be as equally damaging as the comment that was made. It might be fun to laugh about it in our pregnancy groups or on social media, but don’t ruin a relationship over a comment and a comeback.
It may be easy to be reactionary, but try to be the mature person in the relationship and respond with kindness and grace.
Here are a few responses that are kind, but informative to a rude comment:
- Thanks, but I’m not due until [due date]
- He/she is just sticking out far today!
- Nope, the ultrasound just said one baby, whew!
- I feel great, thanks!
- Yep! Still pregnant. This baby is going to be baking for a while longer!
- Don’t worry. My doctor isn’t as concerned as you are.
- Different women carry babies differently. Don’t worry, everyone’s healthy here.
If the person is a repeat offender and you really need them to get the point that you’re not impressed with their comments, try some of these:
- I think the phrase you’re searching for is “you look terrific!”
- This was the phrase I’d use to gently but firmly guide people who didn’t know what to say to me but wanted to acknowledge me. They caught on very quickly and I found this phrase to be very effective in training people to say nice things to me.
- No, it’s not twins, but remember that some women lose a twin during pregnancy. That could be really hurtful to say to someone.
- You realize you’re calling me fat, right?
- (with a smile) That’s not a very nice thing to say to someone, pregnant or not!
- I know you mean to say that as a joke/light comment, but I don’t think it’s funny. If you don’t have nice things to say about my body, please keep them to yourself.
It’s pretty tough to escape at least a few rude comments while you’re pregnant. And it’s even harder not to be hurt or offended by those comments. I hope our time together today has helped arm you to either ignore or address a comment in a civil manner.
Now tell me, what was the rudest thing you heard when you were pregnant?