Oh, the wisdom of Thumper!


(Warning: today’s post is a bit of a rant…)

Why do people have such difficulty in knowing what to say to a pregnant woman? Is it just me, or do they honestly forget common courtesy when they realize you have a baby in the oven?

I was talking to a bunch of pregnant Mommas the other night at an Infant CPR class and we exchanged stories about all the horrible things people have said to us while we’re pregnant. A common question hurled at many of us: “Are you having twins?”

Seriously?! Don’t ever, ever ask a pregnant woman how many babies she’s having – you will always be wrong. Some of us, and by that I mean me, carry our babies way out in front because we have very little space between our ribs and our hips. There’s just no place for the baby to hide. It’s going to look like we have an entire litter inside of us. We know. You don’t need to remind us.

But the opposite end of the spectrum is no better. If a woman carries “small,” then people ask her if the baby is okay. “Are you sure your baby’s healthy?”

What are you doing? And why?! These women tend to have nice, long torsos with plenty of room for their little peanuts to tuck in and hang out. And they’re entirely healthy, I might add.

By all means, don’t ever make the mistake of asking someone if they’re pregnant in the first place. This is a huge no-no. If you think there might be a bump, you need to pretend to be a secret agent in the special Black Ops and stealthily ask those within her inner circle what’s up – but never, ever ask the woman directly.

This reminds me of an episode from the TV show, “Malcolm In The Middle” from years ago. The Dad gets a new job and is walking around meeting all his other office mates. He gets introduced to his big boss, a woman who’s a little rounder in the middle, and the he does the unthinkable – he pats her belly and asks, “And what do we have here?” To which she responds in an equally sugary tone, “My big, fat belly!”

You don’t ever want to be that guy.

Which makes me break for the tangential but equally annoying rant: Why would having a baby in utero mean that I want complete strangers to rub my belly? The group of ladies I was with the other night compared even more stories on this topic. Some involved the super cute and proud great grandma showing off the brand new baby bump to all the guests at a wedding! But there are some of us, and by that I mean me, who felt assaulted when drunk woman after drunk woman wanted to rub my belly at The Lilith Fair music concert many years ago. How would anyone else in any other life circumstance feel about random strangers coming up and placing their hands on their belly? Ick. Don’t do that. I’m surrounded by pregnant bellies all the time, but I can honestly say I’ve only ever touched a woman’s belly when she has asked me specifically to do so (wondering if she’s having a real contraction, wanting confirmation of the position of her baby, etc.)

Really, when it comes down to it, it’s not that difficult. When you notice that someone might be pregnant – don’t say anything, just smile at them. They’re pretty used to it. People notice their belly and smile –  because they’re a beacon of hope and light for the world! It comes with the territory, so a smile can be enough. If you must say something the comments, “You look great!”  or “You’re doing a great job!” are always welcome.

P.S. – these comments also work wonders for women who: have recently given birth, haven’t had a shower in a couple of days, are really trying to get the hang of this breastfeeding thing, are super sad about going back to work, feel super guilty about not feeling super sad about going back to work, are still wearing their “big girl” pants in the early postpartum period, find themselves both loving and hating being at home with the baby… You get the idea.

Becoming a mother – all the way from the first signs of a positive pregnancy test until the child is grown and out of the house – is a time of self-doubt and questioning.

When you’re in doubt, remember what Thumper says in the movie, Bambi – “If you can’t say something nice – don’t say nothin’ at all.”

Mommas around the world will thank you for your self-restraint.

Ever experience cringe-worthy comments while you were pregnant? How did it make you feel? How did you respond?


3 thoughts on “Oh, the wisdom of Thumper!

  1. Totally agree with you. There is nothing you can say to a pregnant woman about her size, even if you’re close enough to know she does have twins in there or what her due date is. For some reason, as with the belly-patting, people think conversation with a pregnant woman doesn’t follow the same rules as for everyone else. Just be polite!


  2. Oh, yes, so many memories of the stranger belly rubbing — ew! — and the twin question and the “you’re ready to pop, you must be due any day now!” in the midst of my second semester. I’ve also been asked if I were pregnant several times when I was not anywhere near it. Oy. I agree with Janice — common human courtesy, people. I felt vindicated by your rant today…thank you, Barb!


  3. I remember in my early 20s I had this super cute purple tie-dye jumpsuit (it was the early 90s, people – cut me some slack!) I loved this thing and wore it everywhere, until a man on the street in Seattle asked me when I was due – never wore it again. Ha! Just. Don’t. Say. Anything.


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