When I think back on my pregnancy I honestly can't tell you that there were too many moments I explicitly enjoyed. I mean, finding out I was pregnant and telling friends and family and feeling my son hiccup or kick was magical, but mostly I just remember feeling so sick and very uncomfortable and painfully constipated and I couldn't sleep and, well, it wasn't fun. I didn't love being pregnant, but I will say that hearing the compliments every pregnant woman wants to hear definitely helped me navigate my 40 weeks in the best possible mood I could manage.
It can be difficult to compliment a pregnant woman in a way that doesn't come off as subtly judgmental or rude or even body-shaming. Unfortunately, a pregnant woman's body (much like any woman's body) is scrutinized constantly, held up against some fictitious standard that is not only unrealistic, but usually unhealthy. Random strangers also feel somewhat entitled to comment on a pregnant woman's body, which can be passed off as a "compliment" when it's really just creepy and highly inappropriate. Lastly, a pregnant woman is going through so many changes and her hormones are fickle and her mood changes day-to-day, so it can be difficult to "read the room," and offer up a compliment that doesn't upset her or set her off. Trust me, I was her. My partner and my friends and my family members offered up a slew of compliments when I was pregnant, and I can honestly say that it depended on the day and my mood and how I was feeling as to whether or not that compliment was taken well, or just left me feeling worse than I already felt.
So, when complimenting a pregnant woman, take the time to listen to hear and establish how she is feeling before you offer up any run-of-the-mill accolade. Every woman is different; Every pregnancy is different; Every compliment won't come across as sincere and genuine because hormones are evil, but if you pull from the following list I boldly guarantee you that at least one (or all) will make the day of any pregnant woman in your life.
I mean, it's self-explanatory but it's also worth it to read the situation. You'll know if someone is excited about their pregnancy or not, and if they are, it's extremely kind to be excited with them. While pregnancy can be joyous, it can also be scary, and a woman is usually bombarded with so many juxtaposing emotions and that it can be difficult to just be excited or just be happy. Let her know that you're super excited because, hey, you're not worried at all. She is going to rock motherhood like the boss she is.
"I'm So Happy For You!"
Telling a woman who just announced her pregnancy that you're happy for her is less a statement about your current emotional state, and more of a vote of confidence. If you're happy for her, you're not worried about her. I know that when I was pregnant, people telling me that they were happy for me was the most reassuring compliment they could give me. For me, personally, I took it as them telling me that they thought I could handle motherhood and that I would be a good mother and they were happy that I was making this life choice, because they didn't see it as a decision that could ruin my life, or any potential, future life. Hormones, man. They made me think all sorts of things.
"You're All Belly"
It can be difficult to maintain a sense of body positivity when you're going through pregnancy. It's not just the weight gain that can make it hard, but it can be the endless nausea and vomiting and constipation and feeling like your entire being has been hijacked by a tiny fetus. When people told me I was "all belly," I was able to separate who I was from what my body was doing. I was all belly because it wasn't my entire body that was changing, just certain parts of it. It helped me reclaim my vessel, so-to-speak, even if someone else was using it, too.
"You Make Pregnancy Look Easy"
Pregnancy is anything but easy, you guys, and it can be difficult to feel like you're going to get through it. I was constantly throwing up and always constipated and couldn't sleep and I felt like pregnancy was never going to end. I didn't feel like I was "handing it," so to have people tell me that I looked like I was (even when I was all sweaty and gross and clearly miserable) was a kindness I didn't know I needed.
"You're Absolutely Rocking Those Maternity Clothes"
So may women have a difference in opinion when it came to maternity clothes. I, personally, can't stand them and couldn't find much of anything in the maternity section that I found flattering. Others, like one of my best friends, absolutely loved maternity clothes and still wears them (because hello comfort) long after her pregnancy has ended. Either way, whether the pregnant woman in your life is wearing maternity clothes or not, let her know that she looks great.
"You Look So Happy"
I usually try to focus most of my compliments around how someone feels instead of how they look, and I must say that this rule is especially true when it comes to complimenting a pregnant woman. Even if you think she looks absolutely radiant, she might not feel radiant, and your sincere compliment might not come across as such, even if you have the best of intentions. When people told me I looked beautiful, I smiled while silently calling them a liar, because I didn't feel beautiful. However, when people told me I looked happy it felt more sincere, because I was happy, even if I also felt miserable or unattractive or not like myself.
"You're Going To Be A Wonderful Mother"
This is a big one, and easily the best compliment you could give any pregnant woman. Amidst all the excitement and joy and nausea, is an underlying (or sometimes extremely blatant) sense of self-doubt. Parenthood is daunting and motherhood is scary and whether a pregnancy was planned or not, the choice to become a mother is a big one. Letting a pregnant woman know that she is going to do a great job is validating and kind and will definitely work to combat that silent voice in her head that's telling her she's in over her head (and by silent voice, I mean hormones. So. Many. Hormones.).