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How to appropriately (and inappropriately) compliment a pregnant lady

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My belly is gigantic and I am more frequently getting asked ‘When are you due?’ by random strangers in this pregnancy than in any other pregnancy. It is a great blessing and pleasure that random people smile at you and the new little life in your belly and get genuinely excited to share this moment with you. It brings up warm fuzzy feelings that there are still kind people in the world. Yes, that is one reason to love being pregnant. And I have loved that about all of my pregnancies.

Normally, I’m not phased by people’s comments but recently I encountered a man who just would not quit. He guessed I was due in 4 weeks (try 4 months). Then maybe it was my jacket that made the belly big. *unzip jacket* It’s not that big. Well, his coworker is due in a few days and she was smaller than me. Great. Let me help you sir. You have insulted me three times and you yourself can’t do what I’m doing. Should I be rude and tell you your brain is small? No. I kept my mouth shut.

And within a week two different women on two occasions commented that I had a big potbelly already. Really? What happened to the adage of not saying anything if you can’t say something nice? This pregnancy, I am so self conscious of the size of my belly from the number of looks and inappropriate comments that I am now grateful when people I don’t know don’t mention my growing belly. I have had so many people comment on the size of my belly not knowing that this is my third baby and that I am working like a mad woman and don’t have time to exercise regularly. So really, if you don’t know someone, congratulate them on their growing life and not their growing size.

FYI: This is my largest belly, but my lowest weight-gain in all of my pregnancies. Do you, stranger, know that? Do you also know that with my belly sticking so far out in front I’m actually more comfortable than if it were all up in my rib cage and my hips? No. This is not your belly. Also, I’m 5’3″ so my belly is going to look very different than your 5’10” friend. Do not compare and tell me about it. I am excited that I am comfortable this pregnancy and I can still sleep and work and move (for the most part) and I don’t need the added stress of explaining to everyone why my belly is sooooo big when I still have three months to go.

So, if you are a person who doesn’t want to anger a pregnant woman, stand in front of a mirror  with a puppet or grab a friend and practice some canned excitement. (And if you like to touch bellies, maybe practice asking first…I don’t get too upset by the touching, but plenty of mommies do)

word-cloud-pregnant-bellyScenario 1:

You: “Oh, are you going to have a baby?”

Seemingly pregnant woman: “No.”

You: “Oh, my mistake. You have a lovely glow about you! You are absolutely radiant! What’s your secret?” (Turn bright red and hope the woman doesn’t notice, but keep smiling for encouragement)

Scenario 2:

You: “Oh, are you going to have a baby?”

Seemingly pregnant woman: “Yes.”

You: “Congratulations! That’s exciting. (If you must ask) Is it your first?”

Pregnant woman: {Answer 1} “Yes.” or {Answer 2} “No, this is my *insert number here*.”

You: “Well, you look great! It is amazing and special that your body can grow a baby!”

{End conversation}

Don’t continue talking!

Practice other scenarios where you imagine other people commenting on the size of your whatever (belly, bottom, hips, feet, hands, nose…these are all commented on in pregnancy). Practice kindness so it becomes habit the next time.

What not to say:

If you suspect twins, DON’T ASK! A proud mother will share with you (if she wishes) that she is having twins.

If you are mistaken in your guess of when a mom is due, don’t tell her. Keep it to yourself and congratulate her on her new baby.

If you think her belly is big and you have to tell someone. Quickly excuse yourself, find a friend or a different, not pregnant random stranger and tell them about the gargantuan pregnant lady you just saw.

But most importantly, you were just so excited about that big belly, full of life. She brought you joy for a moment. Do the same for her.

How can pregnant moms respond?

Well…like I said. I love the part of being pregnant that gets to share joy with random strangers. But when I’m already struggling with self-image issues because of my big belly and changing body that are not as cute as I hoped, I don’t really want to be nice. And for some humorous perspective on the fact that my body is great even as it’s changing, I pulled out my Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine.  And my response to the boldly inappropriate comment is

“I’m going to take your comment as a compliment. This pregnancy is quite the experience.”

Love to the mommas. Grow your babies proudly!

2 thoughts on “How to appropriately (and inappropriately) compliment a pregnant lady

  1. When I was 7 1/2 months pregnant with Finn someone said to me that I was past the stage where I just looked fat. (this was said to me by another women).
    Some people. We miss you guys and you are an amazing woman and mom! Keep up the good work!!

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