You Asked a Pregnant Woman What?!

ByAbigail Green
Published
Sep 2012
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Photo: Getty Images / The Bump

You know what I got sick of when I was pregnant? The invisible sign I was apparently wearing around my neck inviting random strangers to ask me anything. Does that sound mean? Look, a smile and a gender prediction from a nice old lady or two is one thing. “When are you due?” and “What are you having?” seem reasonable enough, at least the first two dozen times. But it got to the point where I would flinch when I had to get onto an elevator with other people.

Doors open, I get on. Person standing across from me eyes my belly. Pause. “So, is this your first?” “Do you know what you’re having?” “When are you due?” “Have a name picked out yet?” By the time I get to my floor I have spilled my personal business to someone I know less intimately than my dry cleaner. And worse, I usually have to hear their pregnancy commentary, too. Like the one lady who told me I looked like I swallowed a watermelon. Um, thanks?

And then there was the guy who said, “Wow, you’re eight months pregnant? You look great! Not like my wife did.” Nice. I’m sure she would love to hear you telling that to an elevator full of strangers.

It can get even more awkward if you get into childbirth or breastfeeding territory. One time shortly after I’d had a baby myself, I attended a baby shower for a coworker I knew only from the office. At one point she and her husband, who was in attendance, turned to me in front of everyone and said, “We read that before you give birth you should desensitize your nipples with a washcloth so that breastfeeding isn’t so uncomfortable. Is that true? Did you do that?” Talk about uncomfortable!

And did you ever make that common mistake of thinking someone asked “What do you do?” instead of “When are you due?” So you start prattling on about how you majored in psychology in college but had no idea what to do with your degree so you ended up working for your uncle’s accounting firm, until you realize the other person’s looking at you like you have two heads and so you stop short and say, “Oh. November.” Or was that just me?

Really, I don’t know if there are any safe questions to ask a pregnant woman. Especially if you’ve ever made that ultimate mistake of asking “When are you due?” only to realize with horror that the woman is pushing a newborn in a stroller and therefore has already had the baby.

The lesson here is, if you encounter a pregnant woman, smile pleasantly and talk about the weather. If you are pregnant yourself? Avoid elevators at all costs. Take it from me.

What’s the most surprising question someone asked you during pregnancy?

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