9 things you should never say to your pregnant friend

Even after three uncomfortable pregnancies myself, sometimes I blurt out a pregnancy no-no.

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  • Even after three uncomfortable pregnancies myself, sometimes I forget what it is like to be pregnant and blurt out a pregnancy no-no. Upon discussion with some of the best past and current pregnant ladies I have met (special thank you to the Saratoga Springs Play Group), these common concerns were gathered and dissected. So here is the list to remind you what not to say to your pregnant friends:

  • 1. Personal retrospect

  • "I loved being pregnant. I never had stretch marks/morning sickness/swelling."

  • Even if you look back fondly at your months of pregnancy, it is never a sunny walk in the park. But time gives us some distance and lets us forget the uncomfortableness. However, when your friend is in the thick of pregnancy she will know all too well how awkward it is. As you divulge your own personal pregnancy stories to your pregnant friend, it can do one of two different things: either make them feel even more miserable that they have a difficult pregnancy or make them feel like they are complaining. Either way, you want to avoid this and help them feel supported.

  • 2. Failed empathy

  • "I feel pregnant too."

  • Oh do you? Do you have a small-being punching and kicking you from the inside? Does it push on your bladder making you pee randomly? No? Then you don't feel pregnant. Your heart might be in the right place with wanting to share the pain of their difficult state, but being pregnant is a uniquely uncomfortable experience.

  • 3. Observations on their size

  • "You are huge! Are you sure you're not having twins?"

  • This one should be avoided at all costs. A woman's body goes through a major change with pregnancy and that can be distressing. It is a good idea to just leave the weight comments and instead tell her how beautiful she is as a pregnant lady.

  • 4. Food comments

  • "Wow! Are you sure you want to eat all that? You really shouldn't eat...."

  • Pregnant ladies crave some interesting foods while pregnant so it is important to understand that if they are eating "a lot" or craving certain foods that it is usually the baby letting her know that she needs certain vitamins/minerals or simply more calories for growth. There are certain foods that pregnant women should avoid like raw foods or refrigerated meat, but this can be communicated in an educational kind manner that does not relate it to weight or overindulging.

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  • 5. Illusive freedom

  • "Enjoy your last few months of freedom. Get all the sleep you can!"

  • The last trimester of pregnancy is not like vacation or spring break. It is hard to sleep due to baby kicking, being too warm, having to go to the bathroom all the time and so on. So while you are not getting up every few hours to feed a baby yet, you are dealing with having a growing human in your body. Try to stay conscious of their needs near the end and help out as you can because it is no cake walk.

  • 6. Time schedule for labor

  • "When are you going to go into labor?"

  • This comment is just a reminder of how much longer you have and that you have no control over it. This can cause serious anxiety in knowing that at any unknown time you could go into labor and have absolutely no say in the matter. Stories of women going into labor at dance recitals, rush hour or in jammed elevators will flood your friend's mind and only increase this out of control feeling. So instead talk with her about her anxieties and how you can help reduce them.

  • 7. The age question

  • "Aren't you too old/young to have a baby? Was it even planned?"

  • This one is interesting because even strangers feel like they can ask this question. Most of these folks have no idea what your age is but feel it necessary to push their opinion/perspective. Whether you are older or younger there will be challenges to having a baby because simply having a baby causes challenges. So don't say this- and if you hear someone ask this, come to your friend's rescue and say- "She is the perfect age to have a baby!"

  • 8. Family planning

  • "Is this your first baby? When are you going to have the second?"

  • Probably after they get the first baby out. But more importantly: did they forget to invite you to the family planning meeting? This is nobody's business but the people directly involved. I am very guilty of this one in that I want everyone to have lots of babies that can play with all my babies. But I only ask those who are close to me and would feel comfortable enough to ask if I have overstepped my bounds. This has been a good rule of thumb so far.

  • 9. Horror stories

  • "What if your baby is deaf/blind/cleft palate/stillborn?"

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  • Every baby book has a section on the horrible terrible things that can go wrong. This fills parents-to-be with nightmares and causes serious anxiety provoking thoughts. Only tread on this thin ice if you have hereditary information that will help the mother and father so they can bring it to their doctor for care. Never tell your friend about someone who miscarried around the same pregnancy week as them or a story you heard about a baby being born blind. Their doctor will be the one to discuss the specific risks and the best form of action. Your job is to support them no matter what the obstacles they face.

  • It is best to avoid all of the above topics unless your pregnant friend brings it up to you directly. Remember that they are in charge when it comes to their pregnancy and body. Plus, it wouldn't hurt if you rubbed their feet too.

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Jessie Shepherd, MA, LCMHC is a Mental Health Therapist at Blue Clover Therapy, LLC. Learn more on her website.

Website: http://www.blueclovertherapy.com

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