Recently, I posted a story on my Instagram about two back to back comments I received while doing laundry in my building from well-meaning neighbors about my pregnant body. The post got a TON of responses, mostly from women who relayed their own similar stories. It seems that we as a society have some work to do when it comes to how we speak to pregnant women, and women who have recently given birth. My hope is that this post does a bit of that work!
I am currently 29 weeks pregnant with my second baby.
I am also a fitness professional, which means that every day, my job is to get up in front of my students and deliver a class that is nothing less than stellar, every single time. I love what I do. However, being a fitness instructor also means that my body is on display and being pregnant, its’ changes are also on display. Since I interact with many people a week, there are hundreds of comments about my pregnancy and specifically my body. While the comments are overwhelmingly positive and out of nothing but love, I feel particularly qualified to send out my two cents about what women want to hear and what they don’t.
Here are the ones I would suggest never saying or doing:
1. Are you carrying twins?
Do I really need to explain this one? And for my twin mommies out there, ROCK ON. You’re amazing.
2. You are so BIG, OR, you’re so SMALL (or tiny, huge, etc).
Bear with me here. If I’m so big, it feels like I’m being called fat. If I’m so small, it makes me feel like I should worry that my baby isn’t growing well. The fact of the matter is that belly size has little to do with baby size, and beyond that, it’s just rude to tell someone what you think of their size in any context.
3. You must be ready to pop.
People don’t pop. But whatever. What if the person is nowhere near their due date? That sucks to hear.
4. You REALLY look pregnant now!
Huh? I’ve been pregnant for months.
5. Touching the belly.
It can either be entirely endearing or beyond creepy. Ask first.
Here are some great things to say:
1. You look great, strong, amazing, awesome, etc.
I can’t imagine anyone who is pregnant being offended by these. Generic compliments feel good.
I think it’s human nature to say something. I get it! That said, just know you don’t have to. It’s totally fine and welcomed to talk about something else entirely.
Pregnancy is such an individual experience for everyone. Nobody experiences it the same. I am generally pretty confident in my body, and personally, I love the whole process of change that happens. Some people don’t. Many people also struggle with body image issues. The comments we make can really leave an impact, and it’s important to be aware of this and support each other.
It really does take a village.