Few times of life are as magical and life-changing as pregnancy. First, there is all the anticipation of things to come—cute baby, new family dynamics, the wonder that is birth. You’re bringing a new life into this world, one totally unique and with so much possibility.
It’s also one of the great chances in our culture to mom-shame and offer total strangers intrusive and unwanted opinions. It’s even still a thing in the day of bodily autonomy for total strangers to reach all the way into the personal space of an expecting mother and try to touch her stomach, whether the invader knows the mother or not. Weird. Creepy. Don’t be this person.
Still others can’t seem to resist opening their mouths and firmly inserting their feet by offering unwanted advice. Just because a woman happens to leave her house while pregnant does not mean she’s soliciting advice on how to eat, drink, prepare for childbirth, or do any other number of daily activities. In fact, it’s probably safe to say she doesn’t want your opinions at all. She’s probably just trying to buy bread in peace.
If you’ve had this happen to you, whether it’s baby No. 1 or baby No. 10, and wondered how to handle the comments with a little more grace and humor, wonder no more.
1. Tell Them You’re Not Pregnant
This viral tweet showed just how much people are looking for snappy ways to handle unwanted pregnancy advice last week. Look someone in the face, and tell them you’re not pregnant.
(I am 6 months pregnant)
Me after ordering my coffee:
Stranger at Starbucks: you know you should be drinking decaf when you’re pregnant.
Me: I’m… not pregnant.
Stranger: (horrified) I am so, so sorry!
And that’s what you get for giving unsolicited advice.
— Jax ⚡️Philosopher Queen (@Diamond_Jax) August 2, 2019
2. Stare Them Down
Fellow Federalist writer Libby Emmons shared how she shut down commentary from someone who wasn’t the baby’s other parent or doctor. “At 6 months pregnant my ob-gyn said I could have a bloody Mary on an international flight. I ordered one from the flight attendant, and she looked concerned. She looked around and said, ‘Are you traveling alone?’ I cradled my stomach and looked her in the eye and said, ‘With baby I’m never alone.’ She poured the drink.”
Game, set, match.
3. Tell Them About the Spare Baby
The debate on how many kids families should have rages on (and on, and on), but that really isn’t the business of people other than the mom and the dad. Outsiders continue to butt in where they’re not wanted or needed, though!
When I went from kid two to kid three, one lady told me I didn’t really need another (what she expected me to do about this, weeks from my due date, still baffles me). She was pretty speechless when I told her that this was my backup baby since I’d already hit the replacement rate.
Works as a tie in to the historical heir, a spare, and random kid No. 3, right?
4. Actually, I’m Having Octuplets
“You look great for being six months pregnant!” Oof. Who hasn’t heard a variation on this? “Oh, you look amazing for being almost due!” If you were only a little pregnant, you’d look frightening? Do people stop and think about the words coming out of their mouths, or do they just feel free to share anything they’d like? Guessing it’s the latter.
Next time someone tells you that you look great for the stage you’re at but implies you’d be less glam if you were less pregnant, tell them you think you look amazing right now, and moreover, you and baby are doing great. Remind them that you’re doing the hard and important work of growing another whole person and sometimes that looks a bit funny. Seriously. If they’re not married to you, what do they care?
5. Oh, It’s Definitely an Alien
Also heard around mom-land: “Are you sure it’s not twins/you’re not actually due six weeks ago/you aren’t pregnant with a giant alien baby?” This is pretty cruel. All women carry their babies differently. And, news flash: the same woman can carry different babies in different ways. This means some moms look pregnant the day they get that positive test, and some moms don’t look pregnant until month seven.
It’s not a compliment to tell a woman she looks fatter than you think she should. Really, it’s none of your business. Don’t shame a mom because her body is growing a baby in a way that makes you uncomfortable. This is more about you than it is her.
6. I Still Haven’t Figured Out How to Get Pregnant
“Don’t you know what causes that?” This is most often said to mothers blessed with lots of kids. Picture this delivered in a snide tone by a judgy person who doesn’t really doubt you understand sex; they just want you to know they think you’re having too much of it. Rather, too much baby-making sex.
We’re divorced from the reality that children are a blessing and pregnancy, whether it’s baby No. 1 or baby No. 10, is a cause to celebrate. Next time someone slams you for having too many kids for her taste, remind her that you love them all and wouldn’t trade any away. And that your family is pretty good at what causes that.
7. My Arms and Legs Are Full Also
Also commonly heard by moms of multiple tykes: “My, you’ve got your hands full there. Shame on you keep filling your hands further!” Hard yikes here. This is most often aimed at moms of littles, when the kids are doing something particularly kid-like, such as having a tantrum or licking a window. Or picking their nose in public.
Do moms love these moments? Not particularly, unless you’re blessed with far more patience than I am. If so, please tell your secrets.
But being exasperated by moments where your children resemble feral animals in public and you’re pregnant and tired doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids. It means you’re pregnant and tired, and it’d be really nice if people offered a sweet comment or no comment instead of the “hands full” nonsense.
Responses here that work are the, “Yes, my hands are full but my heart is even more full, and I love them all!” types. Sure this moment is chaos. You might look back on it and laugh, or you might not. It’s okay either way, mama. But even in the midst of the storm, you love those tiny people. And that’s the enduring truth here.
8. I’m Not About to Treasure the Tantrum Stage
Strangers love to tell you that they never lost their tempers. They never brushed their pregnant belly against a table and snagged their favorite shirt (okay, fine, the only shirt that still fit) and cried about it. Every moment of pregnancy for them was sheer magic and they took flattering selfies the whole time to make a gorgeous album for the coffee table. Any time you’re upset about swollen ankles, stretch marks, and the fact that you don’t remember what your own feet look like, it makes you ungrateful.
Lies. All of it. Everyone cries when they lose something they love, or when their feet swell like cartoon characters’. Not everything about pregnancy is magical, and you don’t have to feel #soblessed when you’re throwing up for the tenth time that day. It’s okay to still be a person, with feelings and emotions.
People telling you this are operating under some sort of weird memory repression where they don’t remember how awful sciatica was or throwing up even though their stomach was already empty. It’s okay to just smile and nod or offer a generic, “Huh. Interesting,” to these folks, because it’s not about you, it’s them reliving their memories.
Let them have those rose-colored glasses.
9. My Pregnancy, My Coffee
People also love to tell you they never did anything normal while pregnant, and you shouldn’t either. Like lifting something over your head. Or drinking coffee. Or working out. Or going out dancing.
Pregnancy doesn’t render a woman incapable of living life. Moms still do things. Moms still have fun—and drink coffee while doing it. Moms can do all sorts of things to lead enjoyable lives while pregnant without hurting their unborn babies at all.
Tell these nosy noodles that they can do whatever they want when it’s their pregnancy. But this is yours, and you’re going to have that cup of coffee.
10. Yes, I Know Everything I’m Doing Is Wrong
Last, but certainly not least, the mom wars that drag pregnant moms in. Sit there, innocently in line at a store, with a cart full of things for baby, and wait for strangers to tell you that you’re DOING IT WRONG.
Have some formula or bottles in there? Whoa, you hate that baby already, don’t you. Sad. Shame you’re not going to breastfeed.
Have a breastpump and breastpads? Well, too bad you’re so judgy about moms who formula feed. Can’t you just back off?
And those disposable diapers? Do you really want the environment to be full of waste… forever? Mother Earth is crying.
Everything you’re buying is wrong. It’s awful. Feel bad about those choices.
Strangers are oddly quick to let moms-to-be know why they’re wrong or how they could be doing it better. It’s really a shame, because this is a time when most women could either use a simple, “You’re looking great!” or just no input at all. Unless you’re close to a pregnant mom and she directly asks you for advice, mind your own business.
And moms? Don’t let nosy people ruin your day. You’re doing just fine. You can do this. Congrats on that baby!