Adding a bundle of joy to your family requires time, energy, money—and apparently, the opinions of dozens of other people. The usual pregnancy icebreakers are acceptable—“When are you due?” “Is it a boy or a girl?”—but there are many less-charming conversational nuggets that make pregnant women want to tear out their hair.
1. “Was it an accident?”
This question essentially demands the details of a child’s conception, which is something that only Mom and Dad should be privy to. Does anyone really need to know if the expectant mother was actively hoping for another child or if her birth control hit a glitch? Of course not. This is like asking someone for a play-by-play of their last bowel movement—it’s completely inappropriate and unbelievably awkward.
2. “You know how that happens, right?”
Typically cropping up around a woman’s third or fourth pregnancy, this charming little query is often delivered with a wink and/or smirk. It’s an implication that women are completely clueless as to the mechanics of procreation and wouldn’t dare have more than two children if they knew how to stop the whole process. It’s also sometimes a cutesy way to demand the same information as Question #1.
3. “When I was pregnant, <horrifying thing> happened.”
An expectant mother has enough worries without someone throwing in a casual anecdote about that time her water broke but was actually lava / her baby grew fangs while in the womb / her entire pelvis turned inside out. Pregnant women need more horror stories like they need another joke about their frequent bathroom visits. Which is to say, not at all, thank you very much.
4. “I can tell it’s a <boy or girl> because your nose is so much wider.”
The physical symptoms may vary—wide nose, broken-out skin, basketball-shaped belly—but the general idea is always the same. An expectant mother’s body is staging a mutiny by rearranging its various parts into something almost unrecognizable, and for some reason, people think it’s acceptable to point this out. Never mind that you don’t want to hear about your swollen ankles; people will comment on them anyway.
5. “Are you going natural?”
WARNING: THIS IS A TRAP. Well, not always, but usually. Many women have strong opinions about the role of medication during delivery, and they will tell you, in no uncertain terms, how your baby should go about being born. Never mind what’s best for the baby or what your personal preference might be—these women know best! It’s even better when they’ve never actually had a baby, but they’ve read a lot of articles on the Internet, and they’re basically experts now. And sometimes they’re MEN. That’s when it gets REALLY good.
6. “You’re not going to go into labor right now, are you?”
Around the eight-month mark, the labor jokes begin in earnest. An expectant mother cannot take a walk, go to the gym, or do her job without someone speculating that the baby is mere minutes from crowning. While a sudden and unexpected delivery is possible, it’s not probable—especially with the first couple of pregnancies. Most moms have hours between that first contraction and baby’s grand debut, yet the public is convinced that a single contraction signals the beginning of a five-minute labor and near-instant delivery. (If only.)
7. “Are you sure it’s not twins?”
This is a thinly veiled way of telling a pregnant woman that she’s enormous, and it’s massively insulting (pun intended). An expectant mother probably already feels like a hippo, and some people will make it worse by covertly suggesting that if she is going to get that big, she should have more than one human in her belly.
8. “You’re just about to pop!”
Around the eight-and-a-half-month mark, this cheeky observation starts to plague the expectant mother like a particularly aggressive swarm of mosquitos—and it’s just as irritating. This is yet another way to comment on the mother’s increasing girth, and—you guessed it!—it’s still not funny or cute. Just because a woman is pregnant doesn’t mean it’s suddenly okay to comment on her weight!
9. “When are you going to have another one?”
Apparently, it’s not enough for the mother to focus on the child who is currently percolating in her belly. She should have all of her family planning done beforehand, and she should be eager to share those plans with the world. Never mind the fact that pregnancy is basically its own form of bootcamp for your body; Mom should be thinking about her future children! How many does she want? What will their names be? What if she accidentally has more than planned? What if one of them is a vampire? These questions must be answered!
Also, keep in mind that MANY women have fought tooth and nail to conceive their child–first, second, third, or all of the above. Sometimes they conceive the first one easily but have a very hard time with the second. Sometimes they only ever wanted one, and the assumption that they should have more feels condemning. So not only is this question insanely personal, it’s also insensitive and presumptuous.
10. “You’re going to stay at home now / you’re going to keep working, right?”
Let me be clear: This one is more about the tone of assumption than the actual question. As long as you know the mom fairly well, it’s fine to ask about her plans for work. But asking it in a way that suggests there is only one right answer is downright condescending. While some moms stay home, others don’t, and it’s nobody else’s business which route a pregnant woman decides to take. It’s simply a matter of what will bring the most joy, peace, and security to the family.