There’s something about being around a pregnant woman that makes some people lose all sense of proper manners, including (and sometimes especially) strangers. Maybe it’s the pregnancy pheromones wafting through the air….I don’t know. But it’s uncanny, and it only gets worse as the pregnancy continues.

Being only 15 weeks along myself, my level of make-people-rude-pheromones hasn’t gotten high enough to start experiencing major reactions quite yet, but I expect it to kick in any day now.

But, based on my conversations with other pregnant Mommas and past experience, I thought I would write a quick guide, for all of us, of proper etiquette around pregnant women.

If, when around a PW, you start to feel that dizzying feeling of pheromonal attack and feel the need to say completely inappropriate things, just remember this post. Recite the rules. Breathe deeply. And bite your tongue. As hard as possible.

The Rules.

1. Rule of Response to Baby Names: Lie.

Many PW are opting for the “secret baby name” these days. The reason: They’re afraid.

Because people seem to have forgotten the unbelievably important Rule of Response to Baby Names: PW do not, in any way, shape, or form, really want to know what you actually think of their future baby’s name.

All they want to hear is this: “Oh, that’s a great name! I love it!”

If it’s true, awesome. If it’s not true, say it anyway.

I’ve heard of all too many pregnant Mommies that have been tortured – nay – AGONIZED, over the things that people have said about the names that they worked so hard to come up with….

“You’re going to name your kid THAT??”

“Do you not know what rhymes with that name?”

“Oh, my Great Uncle who killed my Great Aunt’s Mother-In-Law was named that. It’s a bad name.”

Or the more subtle… “That’s….an interesting name. It must be a family name?”

People, this is unacceptable.

So let’s practice. You ready?

“I’m going to name my baby Beelzebub if it’s a boy, and Gomer if it’s a girl. They’re both biblical names!”

Now you insert here: “Oh! Those are beautiful names! I’ve always had a fondness for boys named Beelzebub!! And Gomer…that just brings back wonderful Mayberry memories!!”


2. The Just-Because-She’s-Pregnant-Doesn’t-Mean-Her-Personal-Space-Disappeared Rule.

In fact, the PW may desire more of it.

Unwarned and unpermissioned belly rubbing or touching is completely uncalled for. Especially if she doesn’t know your name, or you do a sneak attack where she all of a sudden feels strange hands touching her abdomen before she can associate a face with said hands.

Not cool. It kinda feels like you’re a baby-snatcher-wanna-be.


3. The No One Wants to Be Told They’re Fat Rule.

First of all, there seems to be a phenomenon where everyone’s memory is erased as to how big a belly actually gets at 40 weeks, and so they start asking a PW if she’s “going to pop” or “swallowed a basketball” or “11 months pregnant” at around 25 weeks.

She isn’t, didn’t, and will never be.

Also. PW don’t mysteriously morph into non-female creatures who don’t mind their weight gain or hugeness pointed out.


Before you say anything regarding size, shape, weight gains, or any sort of reference to a whale, an elephant, or a mountain sticking out of her abdomen to a pregnant woman, ask yourself this question: “Would I say that same statement to a non-pregnant woman?”

Because underneath that gargantuan belly is a non-pregnant woman’s heart mixed with a pregnant woman’s emotions. A mixture which eerily resembles nitroglycerin.

And finally, a few last guidelines.

4. Don’t comment on how much a PW eats. She knows it.

5. No need to tell her she’s sweating like a pig. She feels it.

6. Yes, pregnancy can, in fact, make you waddle like a duck. Pretend you didn’t notice.

7. What? There’s food all over her shirt? There’s a biscuit sitting atop her belly? That’s because pregnancy makes you clumsy. No need to point it out.


8. No PW in the WORLD wants to hear about your nightmarishly painful birth story. Or your third cousin’s horrifying delivery. Or anything with “trauma” and “birth” in the same story. Save those stories for post-menopausal women only.

9. If I’ve left you no safe topics of conversation with PW, then I suggest phrases such as “you are just glowing”, “you look magnificent”, “You don’t even look pregnant!!”, “You don’t have an ounce of weight on you that isn’t baby!”, or “Wow, pregnancy just suits you so well!”

So there you have it. Breathe deeply, Bite your Tongue, and remember The Rules..

Because that huge belly you’re commenting on? She can and will use that thing for a weapon, if need be.

50 thoughts on “How to Act When They’re Expecting.

  1. HILARIOUS! I love it!

    Having two 9lb babies brings on a WHOLE lot of comments such as "are you sure there's only one?!" and "you still have 2 more months?!".

    You need to keep track of all the rude comments you get during this pregnancy & write a blog about it :)

  2. There are hilarious, and I totally agree with the touching the belly comment. Look, just because I bear a resemblance to Buddha doesn't mean you can rub my belly!

  3. Too true! I got told I looked ready to pop when I was only about six and a half months. :). And I had the basketball one too. I actually didn't mind people touching my belly if it was just a light hand to the top part. Rubbing the belly is not so cool. :P

  4. Oh people and their pregnancy comments.

    I'm gonna have to wholeheartedly agree with everything you've said here. Especially as a PW who's baby just had a big growth spurt ;).

  5. Oh, and the JUDGING. I'm officially in my 9th month so there is no hiding this belly behind countertops, grocery carts, ANYTHING. So my additions to this list are:

    If a PW is not wearing a ring, it's probably because she can't get it past her knuckle. The first one.

    If a PW orders a latte and does not specify that she wants decaf, then she very likely does not want decaf. Don't ask her if she meant to say decaf, if she wants decaf, shouldn't she have decaf??? Said PW is probably getting a collective 4-5 hours of sleep per night and NEEDS at least a little of that 200 mg of caffeine per day allotment.

    If I buy booze, it's not because I'm going to down the whole carton in the alley behind the store. It's more likely for my husband who is dealing with a largely pregnant, non-sleeping, always hungry (yet pained by heartburn!), aching, swollen woman. It's the least I can do for him.

    I am 9 months pregnant. Hear me ROAR.

  6. SO TRUE!

    I have experienced every one of these. Another important one (that shouldn't apply to you with your convenient December due date): Oh my gosh, you're going to be at your biggest during the HOTTEST part of the summer!


    Thanks, I completely did not realize that!

    Something else I've noticed is that when I tell people how far along I am or how much longer I have, 50% of people respond with: "Wow, you're almost there!" and the other 50% respond with:"Wow, you still have a long way to go!"

    Really? Cause I thought 9 weeks was 9 weeks. KThanks.

  7. Although I have never been a PW I can completely understand these rules especially number 2. I have major personal space issues and do not want people to just come up and start touching my belly if I was pregnant. I try to always ask the PW before I do, and that is only if she is a relative or close friend.

    I agree with number 1 too, who cares what other people think of the name if you and your husband like it.

  8. I love this!

    About my daughter's name, I heard,"I love that name. It's my dog's name." Woo hoo!

    And people started asking me if I was sure I was having twins at about 30 weeks. Pretty sure people.

  9. Okay, please keep a list of all the things people say to you during this time. I bet somebody will ask you if you know how you got that way and/or tell you should get a TV in your bedroom. Yes, someone said that to Mark and I with #3. Mark later said he needed to get the TV out of his bedroom and then maybe he wouldn't be so grouchy.

  10. #2 is why we didn't tell anyone our son's middle name (Danger) until he was born. The grandparents weren't too thrilled at first. Haha!

    People didn't try to touch my belly as much with #2. Maybe cuz they couldn't catch me while I was chasing the crazy 3-y-o.

    Most awkward comment (while at work):
    Middle Aged man: "So, where'd you get that baby?"
    Me: "Ummmm…from my husband?" (I mean really, what did he want to know? The location she was conceived?!")

    Also, I got many comments from a coworker once my belly button popped that my belly looked like a giant boob. Lovely. Thanks, Jeff.

  11. Also you should never, ever comment on how swollen a pregnant woman's feet are, especially during the blazing heat of summer time. Trust me…she is completely aware of how swollen her feet are!

  12. When I was pregnant with Isaiah, a woman came up to me at a wedding and reassured me, "If you go in to labor, don't worry, I am a nurse."

    I was 23 weeks.

  13. You mentioned “You don’t even look pregnant!!” to be an acceptable statement. . . I disagree because that was the one comment I got alllll throughout my first pregnancy.

    In fact, the week before I delivered, someone said, "Are you sure you're pregnant? You look like you might be in your first trimester." Hated it. Yes, I lost 16 lbs because I was so sick, but I didn't want to look bloated, I wanted to look pregnant!

  14. Very good rules. Now if people will just remember them. By the way are you really that big so soon? LOL

  15. LOVE IT!! May all the freaks that I did not know who felt the need to touch my tummy read this and learn wisdom. AND, you look beautiful and glowing. Pregnancy really suits you!

  16. Agree with Lori T. I'm 31 weeks, and only just looking pregnant rather than bloated. Yes, I realise I"m not showing much. Yes, I am really due in 9 weeks.

    Despite that, my favourite comment of the week comes from one of the guys at work: "you know, you don't ACTUALLY have to eat for two" … I was making myself a cup of Milo.

    The free parenting advice I can also do without. I'm even getting advice on teenagers, and this is my first..?!

  17. Hilarious! My hubs needed this post when my best friend was pregnant with twins. She came over one night and Jay met her at the door and asked her if she ate Kerrie.

  18. When I was pregnant I decided I needed to get three shirts made up: one for each trimester.

    1st trimester: Yes, I'm pregnant.
    2nd trimester: I feel fine.
    3rd trimester: No you may not rub my tummy.

    With the first kid we came up with a list of favorite names and chose the name we wanted while I was in labor. That way, no comments. Although we did get a couple of grumbly comments after the fact.

    The second baby we chose the name ahead of time. One of the close family told me that it was a little old lady's name. Other people did the… interesting name… thing. Others were dissapointed we didn't choose the name THEY suggested. Definitely will wait until we are in labor for the next one, if there is a next one. :)

    Oh, and filiagratiae: love, love, LOVE the name Isaiah. It was on the list for baby #2, but she turned out to be a girl.

  19. heehehe This was hilarious and perfect! And a good reminder for those of us who aren't PW right now – I totally judged a name my friend said she like, I called it ghetto :( Uncool of me. In the future I will remember this rule!

    These are so funny! I never rub a PW's belly, since I would never rub a non-PW belly, it just seems weird. I would hate it. You've got lots of good life tips on your blog! First the mom jeans, now rules for how to act around PW :)

  20. Lori T and Ree – you are right. There should be a maximum of 20 or so weeks on the "You don't even look pregnant!" comment. After that, you really are just ready to look pregnant. I agree.

  21. Ha! This is great! I wish you had been around 8 years ago when I had my babies!! Never fear though, some nice old lady patted me on my belly and said that I must have a bun in the oven…just 4 years ago. To which I replied- "nope, that's just me!" Therefore I feel the need to add, don't ever assume one is prego- not even if she's on her way to deliver triplets! You could be wrong..Let her bring it up!

  22. I think everyone needs to read this!! From experience with my own PW freinds and my big mouth I think one that's important too is:

    Never say "Are you sure that's healthy for the baby?". Is the PW not the one carrying the baby? Doesn't she know whats best for her child….hasn't she done the reasearch? I've let that slip and have learned to never ever again let that come out of my mouth…or anything like it!

  23. Also, I read the hilarious "Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy," by Vicki Iovine during my first pregnancy. A must read.

    She talks about the "Pregnancy Police" that constantly ask you intimate questions and give you unsolicited commands (slightly stronger than advice.)

    My parole officer? My husband's single male co-worker, who asked every time he saw me if I was watching my sugar intake, drinking enough water, and exercising regularly.

    What would I have done without him? :)

  24. Rachel, I promise that I am not lying or following any of your other PW Rules when I tell you that you ARE glowing and do NOT look pregnant in your 14 weeks picture! You're simply stunning.

  25. And then you get those PWs that have a wicked sense of macabre humor (as I was)and when someone says "You're simply glowing" I either said "Yeah, the whole "alien baby" thing is getting a little old, but you should see me in the DARK!"; or "Nah, I'm just sweating, you're seeing the sun shine on my grease."

  26. Thank you for posting this and making me feel that I am not so abnormal for feeling this way. I have a neighbor who has never had a kid before making comments like Oh wow your belly is so big (#3) or not only did she want to touch the belly (which I really hate) she wanted me to lift my shirt to show my belly.It was humiliating. The second time she asked I just ignored her request. I tried being nice because she was a new acquaintance but she was just too much.The worst was when she wanted to know when we're going to find out the sex of the baby and I told her I wasn't sure if I wanted to find out or if we were just going to let it be a surprise.She has asked as least 4 times like a child BUT WHY?!'s in the conversation. But why would you do that? Because we don't know yet. But why? What if people want to buy you gifts.Then they can buy us neutral but Why? Aren't you having a baby shower? Um not sure about that either.Maybe we'll just have a after baby arrives party , but why? She wouldn't let it go.It was so annoying at how judgy she got that I wasn't going to find out the sex or even bother to let her know when I did.How does one handle such people when I really want to just scream go away.

  27. A good way to avoid some of these comments is to be fat to begin with. In my case strangers just thought I was a really fat person and left me alone.

    Also a rule for 20 somethings and teens who work in retail. It is possible for a woman in her 40's with a little bit of grey hair to be pregnant even if she looks like she must be 80 to you! I was in Gymboree, 6 months pregnant with twins, purchasing outfits for my babies. The sales girl brightly said "Oh, grandma's going to have twin grandchildren! Would you like those gift wrapped?"

  28. I love this list! I needed it 2 summers ago when I was pregnant. My lovely co-worker told me that I better not gain any more weight because the floor would fall out from under me. I was in my 7th month and had gained 25 lbs. I CRIED (thanks pregnancy hormones!) BTW, this woman gained 50 lbs with her pregnancy in the first 28 weeks.

  29. Lol. I always thought it was weird when women kept their baby's name a secret but I didn't realize that when I told people the names I was thinking of that they were actually going to give me feed back like I cared about what they thought. My boss told me that the names I like sound Southern and then asked in all seriousness if I was from the South? Really? Don't you think you would notice/know if I was from the South??? I don't care what you think about my baby's name…. that's why I didn't ask. And why would I ask someone's opinion after knowing that they named their daughter Suede??? All I have to say is AMEN!

  30. Ha! great post Rach! I might have to have this one posted on the practice FB page too!
    Thise things bother me too on behalf of PW! But I dont really have the right to reprimind people since I have not been a PW myself…so nicely done!
    you would think that its only men that would make such inappropriate comments, but unfortunately, as I'm sure you know, its other women too! crazy!

  31. "Oh my gosh, you're going to be at your biggest during the HOTTEST part of the summer!"

    The winter due date version of this is: "Oh my, you are going to have to buy the most ginormous coat!"

    I do have to nix the "you don't even look pregnant" comment though, especially in the first two trimesters. If you are a paranoid mother-to-be like me, comments like that make you worry that there is something wrong or maybe the baby died (In my case I was told that this was likely to happen so I had a good reason to worry even without comments from random passers-by!)

    In the last few weeks when Elizabeth was "growth restricted" and there was a lot of talk about the upcoming c-section I definitely wouldn't have appreciated people telling me that I hardly looked pregnant :) It's almost a polite way of saying that you think I look fat most of the time, so that having gained twenty odd kilos hardly makes a difference. Needless to say – never tell a women her weight gain is localized!

    Safer not to make weight related comments at all, I think!

  32. and wait a second! who is Ree?? how can another reader have MY name? LOL! ;)

    And I agree with the other reader who said people in general need to let the PW bring up her preggo status on her own!! As a "fluffier" woman myself, I've heard the comments and seen the looks….and yes, I CAN carry that beacuse I am, in fact, NOT in any condition! ;-/
    Rather sad how insensitve total strangers can be!

    But that leads me to another discussion on how we as a society need more basic manners and sensitivity training…just because our society is more casual nowdays, does NOT mean that common sense and good taste have to go out the window!
    OK, rant finished! ;)

  33. I'm glad you reposted this for AL Bloggers…I thought it was hilarious the first time I read it! I have always wondered how prego women felt about those things, thanks for the advice!

  34. So I have been readin your blog off and on for a while but have never left a comment. I know, Im so sorry. I don't blog and have a fear of others reading what I write. But I just have to tell you that every time I read anything from your blog I do LAUGH OUT LOUD. For real!! You are so funny and it always makes me lighter and gives me something to smile about. SO thank you for that. :) It is an amazing gift and I needed it tonight.

  35. mercymaid – thank you so much!! It's always SO nice to get some encouragement and to hear from my readers!

  36. This is fantastic stuff! Thanks for the laughs! I started out with “Mom Jeans” which a friend of mine shared on facebook and that led me here. I am about 17 weeks along with my 6th and am once again living proof that with each pregnancy the belly pops earlier than the previous one. In light of this, I have another one to add to your list. This happened A LOT in my 5th pregnancy when I was just about 3 months along and in full blown maternity clothes…at Disney World. I had a steady stream of friendly Disney personnel comment on all the kids, our next one of the way…and inevitably the question “how far along?” Me: oh, I’m still early, about 3 months. Then the facial expression or even comments that said “Wow, I thought for sure you were MUCH farther along than THAT!” I got used to it quickly and I could understand their surprise, so I wasn’t really offended, but I guess it was a bit embarrassing and predictable!!

  37. Ok, I have GOT tobstop reading your blog during nap time. My laughter wakes up my baby… But if I can’t read during naps, when? Sigh…

    1. Ha – thanks!! :) That’s quite a compliment!! …but naptime is pretty important around here, so I also feel the need to apologize…

  38. Love your use of the word, “pheromonal,” those I’m in a bit of a quandary as to the correct pronunciation: “phero-MOAN-al…” or “pher-OHM-onal,” or…?

    Yup, don’t think I’m getting anything else done today until I solve this one!

    P.S. Have you noticed that I tend to comment on the most out-the-way aspects of your posts?

    I should be saying things like, “I KNOW! People can be soooo rude. One time…” Instead I’m nitpicking pronunciation and talking about “long pants.”
    Maybe I should go check my meds dosage. Might be getting a bit wonky. ; )

    1. Good GRIEF! I am never mentioning my hatred of typos again. It appears that the irony imp is having a little too much fun with my comments.

      “THOUGH I’m in a bit of a quandary…”


      P.S. I have read this comment ON my comment 4 times obsessively checking to make sure that I do not, in fact, have another typo in my “I’m-disgusted-by-my-own-typos” addendum. (Now, I’ve got to do the same with my “P.S.”…this is exhausting!).

  39. You forgot the ultimate rule: NEVER EVER EVER assume a woman is pregnant, no matter how big her belly is! DO NOT ASK STRANGERS WHEN THEY ARE DUE! She may just be overweight, or, in other, more horrible cases, might have had a miscarriage. Always wait for the woman to say so.

    Thank you. Otherwise, I agree with everything you’ve said. I can’t tell you how many times I got asked if I was having TWINS — with my first, an 8 lb baby. By the time I got to the third (a 10 lb 9 oz fella!) even my MOM was weighing in with the “Are you sure it isn’t twins comment?” when I was past my due date. Hell hath no fury like a pregnant woman scorned!

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