If there’s one thing that every pregnant person loves, it’s when total strangers stop them on the street and offer up a whole litany of unsolicited advice.
I’m joking! I think most of us know this simply isn’t true. As a person who has been pregnant, I can understand the urge to offer up all of your sage wisdom to any and every pregnant person you meet … but I can also understand why just about no one wants you to actually do that.
There are a whole lot of things you can say to a pregnant person, though. Some of it is helpful, and some of it is just nice. Also, as ever, just because you want to talk to someone doesn’t mean you can or should, and just because pregnant people exist doesn’t mean they’re waiting for you to interrupt their vibe.
If we’re clear, let’s discuss: Here are 10 things you can actually say to a pregnant person.
"You look so healthy!"
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to hear that they look great, and using the word “healthy” instead of “good” is even better. You’re saying that it looks like someone is taking care of themselves, and that’s a particularly nice thing to say to a pregnant person who is probably already more than a little anxious about health and body care throughout the pregnancy. Try it!
"Let me carry that for you."
Hellllllllo: The later someone is into their pregnancy, the nicer this statement/offer is. And please: Make it an offer. Asking “Can I help you with that?” is nice, but taking the initiative and helping carry whatever item you’re talking about is even better. I promise you that the pregnant person in your life will definitely appreciate this.
"Do you hope your baby will get your beautiful hair?"
I saw this suggestion online and immediately loved it. It’s a twofold win: You’re complimenting the person you’re talking to, and you’re mentioning their baby, whom they’re probably getting pretty excited to meet. I’m pretty sure anyone you ask will immediately smile, thank you, and let you know that the answer is an unequivocal yes.
"You're carrying that baby beautifully."
When I was pregnant, I really didn’t like it when anyone commented on what my body did or didn’t look like — except for when people found a way to comment without ever being rude or making me feel uncomfortable. I would still be cautious and only deploy this compliment on people you know, but if you’re feeling brave, it could work for most.
"You are already such a good parent."
This, this, this, as the kids say. Every parent and parent-to-be I know is worried about whether or not they will do a good job. If they already have kids, they’re worried that they’re actively messing those kids up. If they’re pregnant for the first time, they are probably being overwhelmed with advice from friends and the internet on how to be a good parent. Go ahead and assume that they will be.
"You're just the right size."
This is another suggestion that is probably best reserved for friends and family, but it also probably won’t hurt anyone’s feelings if they hear it! No matter how far along someone is, it’s also nice to be reassured that if you’re eight weeks pregnant, you’re the right size, no matter what size that is. If you’re 32 weeks pregnant, you’re the right size. You get me?
"Don't worry: Not everything will change."
Everyone loves to tell pregnant people about how life as they know it is about to be totally upended. And I get it, I do: A lot does change after you have a baby. But not everything changes! You’re still the person you were before the baby, but now with this bonus sidekick. You still have the same interests and hobbies, but you’re just adding a few more. Your relationships with others are still there; they just might need extra work or a different kind of nurturing.
"You don't owe anyone an explanation for your parenting choices."
Raising a kid means making a lot of choices, and some days it feels like that’s all you’re doing all day long. When you’re getting ready to have your first kid, there are some high-level things to work through. Breastfeeding or bottle? Co-sleeping or a crib? Do you really need to sign up for day care three years early? You get the idea.
So it can be really nice for someone to remind you that your baby is your baby, and if you’re doing what you think is best and not harming anyone, then … you’re OK.
"How are YOU?"
A lot of people will ask how the baby is, how the partner is, if you have names picked out, what the dogs will think about the new baby … but they don’t ask how you, the person who is physically carrying the child, is doing. It can be huge to have someone ask how you, and only you, are doing.
Absolutely nothing at all.
And again, just to reiterate: The golden rule of speaking to a pregnant person is, sometimes you really, truly don’t need to say anything at all. If you find yourself wondering if it’s OK to say something, then don’t. If you start to say something and it comes out all wrong, apologize and move on. And if you don’t even know the pregnant person you’re about to offer all of your wisdom to, consider just walking on by.