You know you’re an adult when your Facebook feed goes from party pics and selfies to baby announcements and sonograms. When those first few friends start sharing their big news, it’s easy to wonder if you’re saying the right thing for such a major milestone. It all comes down to making our hormonal besties feel as loved as possible, right? (Spoiler alert: openly mourning the loss of your weekends together is usually not the most helpful response.) While the general rule of thumb is if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all, the reality is, we don’t always know what’s going to sound nice to an expecting mom.
On top of the gymnastics her insides are doing, she's got about a zillion things on her mind: Not only is she preparing for baby’s arrival and beyond, she’s got to focus on taking care of her pregnant self, all while feeling like a stranger in a new world that requires her to think about things like maternity leave, birthing plans, and a whole slew of phrases that begin with “postpartum.” And even though encouraging her with a selection of badass maternity photos may feel like a sufficient way to show your support ("you, too, can be this awesome while pregnant") sometimes an IRL conversation is what the situation calls for.
Have no fear, as a former pregnant lady, I’m here to offer up some safe conversational gems to help you — and her — through.
4 Things NOT To Say To Your Pregnant Friend
1. "Did I ever tell you about [insert super-scary birthing story]?"
Not sure what comes over people, but I heard some terrifying stuff in the latter months of my pregnancy, as if I was wearing a sign that said “I’m not scared enough.” If your cousin’s friend’s sister almost died during childbirth or your neighbor’s coworker delivered in the back of a pick-up with no cell service to call 911, DO NOT TELL YOUR FRIEND. Even if it all ended up okay, she doesn't need to know. Trust me, she’s well-aware of what can happen. And yes, she saw the news story about that baby born on the subway.
2. "You’re going to do THAT?"
This is not a time to be judge-y. As long as she’s making informed choices with her doctor and partner (if a partner is involved), and as long as she and her baby are safe, your job is to support them.
3. “Let me know if I can do anything!”
The sentiment here is great, and a sweet gesture that I’m not trying to sniff at. However, it puts the onus back on her to come up with something and follow-up, two things that are next-to-impossible to do right after the baby comes. Best to suggest something specific (but we'll get to that in a second).
4. "You look BIG!"
It may be the first thing you notice when you see her, and you may think you can say it in a kind, observant way, or even a funny way, but you are wrong. You should not say it. Period.
6 Things You SHOULD Say To Her Instead
1. "How are you doing?"
It seems obvious, but the key with this one is that you should only ask when you really care about the answer and are prepared to ask considerate follow-up questions. If you and the mom-to-be are close, you are probably safe to check in about specifics, but be warned that some women are more private with the details, so follow her lead. On the flip-side, some like to spill about all of it, so make sure your poker face is on point if hearing about bodily functions aren't your thing.
2. "How is the preparation at home going?"
Your pregnant friend has a lot on her mind and a looming deadline for finishing all of it. Lots of moms-to-be like talking about the fun stuff (baby’s room, registering, narrowing down names) more than the medical stuff, so she might be in this camp. This one is also safe if you are personally less inclined to hear about things like morning sickness, bladder issues, or anything that has to do with a placenta.
3. "Wow, your [name something about her appearance] looks great!"
She is probably exhausted, anxious, and potentially nauseous. Any genuine reassurance you can offer that suggests her stress doesn't show as much as she thinks is going to lighten her mood and potentially make her day. Not sure what’s fair game when it comes to complimenting her appearance? My vote is for anything that’s not swollen. A general “You’re glowing!” is usually safe. Clothes are another good place to start, especially since maternity wear can take some getting-used-to, and she’ll probably be glad to hear her picks are getting noticed.
4. "Can I [name a specific task] for you after the baby comes?"
To really knock it out of the park, come up with a task yourself. For example, “Can I bring you groceries after the baby arrives?” or “Can I walk your dog for you after the baby comes?” or “I’m going to do your dishes when I come meet the baby, and you can’t stop me.”
If extra chores are not your thing, you can always see if there’s anything the baby needs when you’re on your way to meet the little one for the first time. A stuffed animal or cute pair of jammies is almost always safe if you’re not able to get specifics.
5. "Your baby is so lucky to have a mom who [name one of your friend’s awesome qualities]."
I’m not sure about your friend, but during my pregnancy, I vacillated between excitement and confidence in the new adventure my partner and I were embarking on, and sheer terror at just how doomed we were as parents. If you can support her by reminding her how one (or ten) of her strengths will help her during motherhood, you’re doing your job as a good friend.
6. "Do you want to go get some [name her favorite food]?"
No explanation needed here, as long as she’s not crazy-nauseous.
Images: Instagram; Giphy