In our previous blog, the top 10 things you should never say to a pregnant woman, I looked at some of the common things said to pregnant women that make their jaw’s lock with tension and their hands ball into fists. Now we’re going to look at the top 10 things you should definitely say to a pregnant woman, the things that should usually be guaranteed to produce a genuine smile and a feeling of happiness.
However, before you’re let loose armed with your new found politically correct positivity, there is something you need to consider. First make sure the lady you are talking to is actually pregnant…
My friend Laura is an extremely fit and active Personal Trainer. She has a very demanding and busy life and three active children. She treated herself to a well deserved break in the sunshine to take part in a fitness week. Faced with a week on my own and a beach, I’d want to put my feet up and read romance novels, however Laura would rather run along the sand and do a ‘boot camp’ whatever that is…
Anyway, she was missing her family but having a wonderful time. On the last day she was chatting to three women around her age who were also on the holiday. They expressed surprise that she was on this holiday ‘in her condition.’ Laura looked confused and asked them what they meant. They all looked at her (normal sized) stomach, and then back up to her face before going red, mumbling something incomprehensible and then sidling away.
The moral of this tale is this – do not say anything to a woman about being pregnant unless you are absolutely sure they are pregnant!
So, let’s get started with the top 10 things you should definitely say to a pregnant woman.
10 things you should definitely say to a pregnant woman #1: What a lovely/beautiful/perfect bump!
As stated in our previous blog, you should never comment on the size of the person’s bump. Pregnant women are constantly being made to feel as if their bumps are too big or too small. They’re also worried each time they are measured if the midwife sucks her teeth and shakes her head because the bump isn’t exactly where the tape measure says it should be. Just as the only comment you should have for a baby is ‘aren’t they gorgeous!’ the only comment you should have for a bump, is that it is just right.
10 things you should definitely say to a pregnant woman #2: How are you doing?
People tend to just comment on the fact that you’re pregnant, not that you are still you! Ask how the pregnant woman is and then really listen to her reply. It’s extremely disconcerting for a woman to go through education, go out into the workforce, be recognised in her career, and then, as soon as she becomes pregnant, have her identity be buried under her new role as child carrier.
10 things you should definitely say to a pregnant woman #3: You look wonderful
A pregnant woman is dealing with enormous and fast changes to her body that can make her feel not herself, or at least not the person they are used to seeing in a mirror. One of the most helpful things you could ever say to a pregnant woman is a comment on how beautiful they are and how lovely they look.
10 things you should definitely say to a pregnant woman #4: What can I batch cook for you to keep in the freezer?
I remember during the latter stages of my pregnancy and after my daughter was born, we were living in a building site and living off takeaways. Even without the home renovation, you’re totally knackered and the last thing you want to have to do is stand in front of the fridge and work out what to eat.
The most helpful thing you can do for a pregnant woman is to do something practical, like bring around a meal. A proper meal. Not a salad or sandwich, something hearty that a grandmother would make.
10 things you should definitely say to a pregnant woman #5: Can I look after your toddler/other children so you can do something for yourself?
If a pregnant woman already has children then those children don’t give a crap that their mum is pregnant, exhausted, and doesn’t want to play Peppa Pig WWE Smackdown for three hours straight. What their mum really wants is either a house with only her in it, a bubble bath and then a lovely nap or just some time to herself, doing something she wants to do.
So even though the thought of taking her sproglet/s to the park in the rain so they can fall in muddy puddles,wet themselves, eat dog shit and cry until two long green smears of snot run into their mouth isn’t your idea of fun, it will be appreciated more than you will ever know.
10 things you should definitely say to a pregnant woman #6: Can I help you with your housework?
In the life priority list, cleaning usually comes pretty near the bottom, along with filing your tax return and pretending to like vegetables. However, no matter how easy it is to live in your own mess, it can become acutely embarrassing when a health visitor comes around and you think they’re going to contact social services because the remains of last night’s takeaway are still on the coffee table and there’s enough dust on the skirting boards to fill a pillow case.
Personally, I would much rather clean and tidy someone else’s house than my own. It doesn’t take long to run a vacuum cleaner around and do some dishes, but it will make a huge difference to a pregnant woman.
10 things you should definitely say to a pregnant woman #7: It’s okay not to love being pregnant.
This is a biggie. I have lost count of the amount of pregnant women I teach who feel guilty because they aren’t enjoying being pregnant. How dare they? Surely they should just love hemorrhoids, exhaustion, breathlessness, sickness, indigestion, pain so bad they can end up in a wheelchair, headaches, constipation and more!
Pregnant women need to know that it’s okay to complain about being pregnant. It doesn’t mean they are complaining about the baby inside them, or how fortunate they are to be pregnant, they’re just complaining about the litany of physical, mental and emotional shittiness that can accompany a pregnancy.
10 things you should definitely say to a pregnant woman #8: You are doing a fantastic job.
Women in general are their own worst critics. The US comedian Tim Allen, once said that when a woman passes a mirror, she gets in really close, and inspects every line, every pore, every blemish, finding fault with everything about her. When a man passes a mirror, he puffs up his chest, gives himself a wink and says ‘looking goooood!’
A pregnant woman can have self criticism turned up to 11. She’s worried about her unborn baby, about the birth, about being a mum, about work, her relationship, how she’s going to spin even more plates when she already feels maxed out. Sometimes all she needs is to hear that she’s okay, she’s doing great, she’s nailing the task of being a pregnant woman in a bonkers modern world.
10 things you should definitely say to a pregnant woman #9: Your child is going to bring so much light to the world
Children are a gift. They are born perfect in every way. They are little miracles who have the capacity to bring light and happiness wherever they go. The world can often be perceived as a negative place, a place of darkness, a place that you wouldn’t want to bring an innocent child into. However this can be reframed as a positive, with the unborn child seen as the bright light of hope that it is.
Spread love, spread positivity, and help the pregnant woman connect with all the beautiful possibilities of their child.
10 things you should definitely say to a pregnant woman #10: Your genes are worth propagating
This was suggested by an amazing male doctor friend of mine and made me laugh so much I had to put it in. It’s a reminder that the pregnant mum is a wonderful person who is doing her best to continue the very best parts of the human race.
So there we have it, the top 10 things you should definitely say to a pregnant woman. Depending on how well you know the pregnant woman, runner up comments are ‘do you need any help or a listening ear’, ‘would you like a hug’? And ‘I’m sure everything will be fine.’
And last word goes to Lizzie, the indomitable mum of my friend Zoe who sent me this gem:
‘Don’t worry if there’s a bit of panic at the delivery, try not to join in as there is nothing you can do!’