10 Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

Keep it from getting awkward fast by avoiding these 10 things you should never say to pregnant women & try our suggestions instead.

Published February 21, 2024
Happy pregnant woman talking to her friend at home

Pregnancy has a way of causing basic boundaries to disappear. What do I mean by this? People suddenly start asking personal questions that are typically off-the-table topics. If you have a friend, family member, or acquaintance who is expecting, you likely have lots of questions, but some may come off a bit uncouth, even if you don't mean it that way. I surveyed a group of moms, and these are the things they said not to say, as well as what to say to a pregnant woman instead.

You've Gotten So Big!

News flash: We know that we’ve gotten big. We know that we’re supposed to get big. We got the memo on the job, but being pregnant is a lot of change in a very short period, and many times, we feel like we are living in someone else's body. Saying that we look huge or that we've blossomed can make us feel self-conscious about our size. 

What to Say to a Pregnant Woman Instead

Clearly, our body is changing, so not mentioning anything may seem odd. Here are some simple compliments that can acknowledge our growing body, without making us feel bad about it.

  • You look beautiful.
  • You're glowing.
  • Pregnancy suits you.
  • You have the perfect baby bump.
  • I've never seen you look so happy.
  • You make pregnancy look easy.
  • There is no way this is pregnancy number__ .

During my pregnancies, I always enjoyed hearing that I was 'all belly'. This made me feel like the weight gain in my face and legs was all in my head. Remember, you don't need to comment on the size of the belly to comment on the belly!

Need to Know

You may think that commenting on how tiny we look will be a better option, but this is another thing to not say to a pregnant woman. Why? Our job is to grow a baby. If we aren't gaining enough weight, then there's a worry about our baby's well-being. 

Did You Plan This?

First of all, it’s none of your business. Second, why does it matter? She is having a baby — it’s exciting and overwhelming, so why would you want to add guilt to the mix? 

If you inquire about whether a woman planned to get pregnant, and she didn't, you imply that it was an accident and, therefore, a mistake. Many people judge women for getting pregnant unexpectedly, so while you may have good intentions, there's the possibility that she will take it badly because she's already getting grief from others. 

Can I Touch Your Belly?

Woman touching her pregnant friend's belly at home

People touching my belly was my biggest pet peeve when I was pregnant. You would never walk up to a non-pregnant person and touch their belly, so why is this suddenly okay now? 

It may seem as if you’re being polite by asking, but you're actually putting her in an awkward position. Unless you're extremely extroverted, like myself, and have no qualms about saying no to this request, she will likely say yes to avoid making you feel uncomfortable for asking. 

What to Say to a Pregnant Woman Instead

If you are hoping for an invitation to touch, then ask if the baby is kicking yet. If she says yes and then asks you if you want to feel, then the window has opened to touch her belly. However, the baby won't necessarily be kicking when you ask, so don't expect the invite. Just welcome one if it comes.

You Look Tired

Of course, we look tired! We're growing a baby. We're also sleeping with a watermelon on our chest and if we're far enough along, our baby's legs are likely jammed into our stomach and lungs. This comment just makes us feel bad.

Need to Know

Another comment that irritated me throughout my pregnancy was, "Sleep now because you won't get any later!" While this is 1000% true, sleeping while pregnant is harder than it sounds, and this seemingly simple piece of advice can make it even harder to drift off to dreamland. It's like saying "Don't think about elephants." Tell me, what are you thinking about right now?

What to Say to a Pregnant Woman Instead

Telling a pregnant woman that she looks tired isn't constructive — it's insulting. Instead, why not ask her out for a relaxing lunch or plan a time to swing by to help her around the house? You can also put together a new mom relaxation kit or pick her up some comfy and breathable clothes to help her get cozy at night.

Are You Going Back to Work?

Work is a huge pressure point for new moms. In today's society, it's extremely difficult for a family to afford for one parent to stay at home. Not only that, but there are stigmas surrounding being a stay-at-home mom and being a working mom. 

What to Say to a Pregnant Woman Instead

While this can be a touchy subject, there are workarounds that can get you the information you desire. Instead of outright asking if she is going back to work, simply start a conversation about her maternity leave. How long will it be? Is she excited for some quality time with the baby? Are people going to come stay with her after the birth?

These questions to ask a pregnant woman can open the door to the topic of work. If she's comfortable sharing, then you can ask more questions, but if she doesn't divulge any information, then leave the topic alone and let time give you the answer. 

All Your Symptoms Are in Your Head

Pregnant woman having a headache

I once asked my OBGYN if certain pregnancy symptoms were normal, and his response greatly annoyed me — every pregnancy is different, which means that the symptoms will be, too. After getting pregnant a second time, and experiencing a whole different collection of symptoms, I realized that he was 100% right.

Every pregnant woman will experience some sort of odd or unusual symptom in her pregnancy, and they're not in her head. They're real symptoms, and they change based on the time in her pregnancy, where the baby is situated in her body, and what she's eating. Disregarding her discomforts and stresses is not only insulting, but it can make her feel worse than she already does.

What to Say to a Pregnant Woman Instead

Just like you would with any other person on earth, don't discount how a pregnant woman is feeling. Instead, ask questions and give constructive solutions. For instance, if she is feeling constipated, first acknowledge that the situation sucks. Then, ask her questions like:

  • Have you tried eating apples, oranges, and pineapples?
  • Are you getting enough water?
  • Did you know that too much iron in your prenatal can worsen symptoms?
  • Have you considered talking to your doctor about other solutions?

This helps her to feel heard and validated. It can also give her things to try that she may not have thought of before.

Need to Know

Many people believe that pregnancy cravings are all in expectant mother's minds as well, but these actually occur because a woman lacks certain vitamins and minerals. When pregnant, a woman's body is designed to prioritize the fetus over her own, so if she isn't getting a balanced diet, the baby will take her supply leaving her craving what she needs.

Are You Sure It's Not Twins?

This goes back to the comment about being big. She probably already feels huge. Don't make her think she is bigger than she already is by implying she is having multiples! 

Fast Fact

Many doctors don't do an ultrasound until 18 to 22 weeks. If you make this comment before this time, you may actually cause her to worry that she is having more than one baby. As someone who has twins on both sides of the family, this was a very upsetting comment because there was a chance it could happen, and multiples were not something we were prepared for financially. 

Your Poor Husband

Man lying down with his baby in the delivery room

This comment has always baffled me, yet I received it, and so have many of my friends. From having to sleep on the seat in the hospital room to having a girl and even concerns about a stall in their sex life, there's a lot of worry about the men who are NOT pushing a baby out of their body.

That's not to say that they're not a part of the process or that they won't carry half the responsibility once the baby is born, but if I could have swapped roles and slept on that sad little seat in the hospital room while he pushed out an 8.2-pound baby, I would have been over the moon. Maybe keep your concerns about the comfort and well-being of the mom during this process. 

You Know That Pregnancy Is Really 10 Months

While this is true, nine months is a long time to be the host to another being, so maybe keep this detail to yourself so that she can live in denial for a little longer! 

You're Going to Regret That Decision

While you may have strong opinions about working moms, stay-at-home moms, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, ways to give birth, pain management, parenting and discipline styles, and screen time, this is not your baby. Unless a woman is planning to do something that would physically harm her child, let her make the decisions that she believes are best for her and her family. There is no wrong way to parent if your child is loved, fed, safe, and cared for, so let her do things in her own unique way. 

Need to Know

Quick tip for experienced moms. Remember the first time you were pregnant when the already moms shared their 24 hours of excruciating labor, and it terrified you? Maybe skip doing that. You all can share your war stories after the baby is born when no moms-to-be are around.

What to Say to a Pregnant Woman

When it comes to the topic of what to say to a pregnant woman, my rule of thumb is that if you wouldn't ask it, say it, or do it when she wasn't pregnant, then don't do it now. This is her story and if she wants to share, then enjoy the tale. But if she wants to keep certain details to herself, then it's always best to respect her privacy. If you do want to ask a question, one that is always a considerate option is, "How are you feeling?" This expresses care and concern, which is always welcome!

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10 Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant Woman