There are situations in life when you just know you should proceed with caution. When someone tells you about the death of a loved one, or about an emotional break-up (and depending on the person’s relationship to the situation), you might have any number of responses. The same can be said for when someone tells you they’re pregnant. For some, this can be wonderful and exciting news. For others, it can be exceedingly difficult and even painful to discuss. That's why there are certain things you should never say to a pregnant person.
Instead of blurting out whatever first comes to mind, you should listen to how the person broke the news. Were they smiling? Did they seem depressed? Were they giggling in a completely nervous fit? Are they asking for your opinion or advice? You’ll want to gauge the situation and respond accordingly. Instead of assuming your thoughts or feelings about a pregnancy are universal and, therefore, felt and thought by everyone, you need to be cognizant of every woman's unique situation. The best way we can support women, whether they're pregnant or not, is to listen to them.
Revealing a pregnancy, whether wanted or not, whether planned or other, is incredibly personal. Chances are the pregnant person is already terrified about their situation (what pregnant woman isn’t anxious?) so you’ll want to avoid giving these awful responses to the news.
I mean, this is just basic social etiquette and manners. It’s not your business whether or not the pregnancy was planned. Honestly, why would anyone think it's OK to ask someone why they were having sex?
"I Thought You Said You Didn’t Want Kids?"
Here’s the thing, regardless of whether or not someone has ever expressed an interest in having children, it doesn’t mean they won’t ever become pregnant. Wanting kids and getting pregnant aren’t dependent upon one another (why else would 30% of women 45 and under get abortions?) Even if they aren’t getting an abortion, people change their minds all the time.
"Whoa, You’re Going To Be A Mom?"
Perhaps your friend doesn't seem like the “traditional mom” type. Maybe she doesn’t know how to bake cookies or change diapers and is more the type to party till dawn. Who cares? Everything someone did before becoming a mother doesn’t necessarily affect what kind of mother they will be. (Trust me. I'm speaking entirely from personal experience here.)
"Of Course You’re Keeping It. There’s No Other Choice."
A pregnancy announcement is not your chance to jump in with your anti-choice crusade. Keep judgements in your head (if you must judge at all). Your pregnant friend certainly has a say in the matter and it’ll be their choice and their choice alone.
"Don’t You Know How To Use Birth Control?"
Did you know that 9 out of every 100 women on birth control pills end up pregnant? There’s condoms and IUDs and sponges and spermicides; all good forms of birth control and all far from 100 percent fool proof. Regardless of whether your friend was using birth control or not, this is not your time to put your judgmental pants on. Accidents happen. Birth control isn't 100 percent effective.
"Biological Clock Finally Started Ticking?"
Nope. See, the idea of the biological clock is actually a fabrication without any real scientific basis. Neither men nor women nor other-gendered folk have an inherent urge to bear and raise children (note: sex and rearing children are two very different things).
"Aren’t You Afraid Of Getting Fat?"
Everyone should gain some weight while pregnant. Some gain more than others. This kind of fat-phobic and shaming statement reveals a number of issues with the person who said it: that people should fear getting fat, that pregnant persons should fear gaining weight even if that means risking their baby’s health, and that not having children is more important than potentially gaining weight. Nope to all of this.
"Guess That’s The End Of Your Social Life!"
Nope. Not really. I know plenty of moms that have a social life. Sure, your social life changes when you have kids, but it doesn’t just end (unless you want it to). If anything, new doors open to you once you’re a parent. You can go to family and kid-friendly attractions and events without being creepy, yet still get a babysitter for when you want to hit a trendy new bar. Best of both worlds.
"Won’t You Miss _______?"
Sadly, you can always bet there will be a "Debby Downer" type, coming along to remind you about everything you’re missing thanks to pregnancy. No more drinking. No more afternoon espressos. No more smoky bars. But then, really, who cares? It’s not like you’ll be pregnant forever, and some of that stuff is overrated anyway.
"At Least Your Boobs Will Get Huge"
First of all, I’d like to dispel this statement right now. Not everyone’s boobs get huge during pregnancy (believe me, I know I was mildly disappointed mine barely changed). Second, big boobs are not why you should want to get pregnant. Third, there’s more to life than boobs so stop staring at your pregnant friend’s chest and say something considerate instead.
"Do You Know Who The Dad Is?"
I’d like to say that I hate that, as a society, we tend to slut shame women who don’t know exactly who the father is. While it’s perfectly fine (in the eyes of many) for a man to sleep with more than one woman at a time, if a woman has more than one male partner (say, two or three, even if they’re regular partners), she will be shamed instantly if she confesses not being 100% sure about the father. All it takes is more than one partner within a month to realize you might not know. Alright, that said, don’t freaking ask if they know. Even if you know your friend is constantly switching up partners, it’s none of your business.
"You Should Name It ______!"
Slow your roll there! You don’t even know if your friend wants to keep this cluster of cells and you’re already naming it? Naming a baby is the parent’s decision. Nothing is more frustrating than busybodies who want to demand you consider their baby names for your child-to-be and then proceed to insult any name you happen to mention liking.
"Don’t You Think You Have Enough Kids Already?"
What is this, 1980s communist China? We don’t have a one-child policy here (hell, they don’t have it in China anymore either, thankfully) and really, no one should be able to tell you how many or few children you should be allowed to have. That’s a personal matter.