Crazy Things People Say When You Have a Baby
There are a lot of shocking things that happen when you have a baby. For me, though, the biggest surprises weren’t swollen ankles, stretch marks or leaving the hospital in giant mesh underwear. It was the changes in everyone around me — particularly strangers.
Both during pregnancy and right after giving birth, it was like the entire world had lost its social decency filter. I truly didn’t (and still don’t) understand why a random stranger in the mall needed to know if I had a vaginal birth.
And it wasn’t until my friends started having kids that I realized the extent of this phenomenon: Pregnant women and new moms are fair game for unsolicited advice, comments and personal questioning anywhere, any time. Want to ask about my private parts? I guess that’s acceptable now. Want to comment on my body? Sure, why not? Interested in my post-birth sex life? Ummm, OK.
Following is a sampling of very-real and way-too-personal things that people said to my friends and me while we were either very pregnant or mothers of infants. It’s a miracle no one got hurt.
This is a big one, and it happens way too often. Spoiler alert: Most people hate it, unless they know you, and even then, it’s not always wanted.
So, if you’re shopping at the grocery store and see a pregnant stranger, please don’t ask to touch her. It’s invasive, and when you’re that pregnant, there are so many things happening with your body, the last thing you want is someone else exploring it.
This one always bothered me because it’s all so subjective. It’s an excuse for people to talk to you and pretend they know what they are talking about.
Sure, half the time they’re right, but that’s only because odds are 50/50. Also, if a random stranger knows what I’m having, chances are that I already know, too.
Why people think this is acceptable is beyond me. Think about this: Would you comment on someone’s boobs any other time, or is it only OK because they are pregnant and filling up with milk?
Since you don’t know the person, why do you care what their boobs looked like before?
If I do, I have them covered for a reason.
I haven’t gotten used to them yet and don’t feel like sharing them with you either, sir, that I happened to meet in the parking lot this morning.
This one is frustrating because it’s always a segue to a judgy remark about how you shouldn’t be drinking caffeine during pregnancy.
Dear stranger, you’re not my doctor, but if you must know, my doctor said it's OK for me to have 12 ounces of coffee a day. Please just let me savor this one cup that I get!
Stating the Obvious
Everyone can stop asking this question because the answer is always an astounding, “YES!!!” What I want to say is, “Do you know how many nights I lie awake and think about where my water is going to break, whether I’ll make it to the hospital in time, how much it’s going to hurt and the million things that could go wrong?!”
Yes, we’re all nervous about giving birth. A human is coming out of our bodies.
Birth Planning 101
When I was pregnant with my first son, I answered this question with a “no” only to find out on the actual day of his birth that my contractions were approximately 10 times more painful than I had ever imagined, and I did end up getting one.
Did I want it when I was strolling along my neighborhood walking the dog at 7 months pregnant? Nope. Did I have it? Sure did, and don’t regret it one bit. This is equivalent of asking someone their birth plan. It is none of your business.
A Question About Feelings
While this may not sound that weird, it is. It’s extremely personal. What if I wasn’t excited or this pregnancy was unexpected or one of a thousand other things that you don’t know about me happened?
The only possible way to answer this question to a stranger is “yes” because there is no reason to explain your private decision to have a baby and the choices that led you to this point.
A Weird Excuse
A friend of mine was pregnant and forgot something. That’s not that interesting of a story, right? Until you hear that, in that 30 seconds, there happened to be a random man near her who decided to make a joke about her having “mom brain.” How insulting is that?
Every single person has forgotten to grab something on their way out of the door or while getting out of their car. A pregnant woman does it, and she has a case of “mom brain.” Cue the eye rolls.
Judgment at the Gym
While a friend of mine was at the gym lifting weights during her first pregnancy, a man came up to her and said, “Have you tried the yoga class? Your baby will thank you for it.”
She was shocked, and then straight-up pissed. What in the world does this guy know about her body and her workout routine? Why is weight lifting bad and yoga good?
Toward the end of both of my friend’s pregnancies, people made comments like, “How are you still wearing heels?”
She was always dumbfounded. “Do my legs and feet not work anymore? Have you seen the maternity outfits Meghan Markle wore?”
The Feeding Debate
Well, if you must know, I’ve been to four lactation consultants in the past two weeks because my newborn son won’t latch.
I’ve tried every hold, every technique and every trick in the book, and my son and I still end up crying together all night long because he’s hungry, and my body isn’t performing the way everyone told me it was supposed to. Does that answer your question?
Natural or Not?
I was in the mall with my 1-month-old son when I was asked this one. Followed up by, “Was it vaginal?” I responded with, “Yes, vaginal, and I got six stitches. Want to see?”
Rule of thumb: Don’t ask a woman about her vagina unless you’re her partner or gynecologist.
The day someone asked me this in Trader Joe’s I almost spit an imaginary drink out of my mouth and right onto their face. I was flabbergasted. Internally, I thought “OH MY GOD, DID THIS WOMAN JUST SERIOUSLY ASK ME IF I WAS HAVING SEX WITH MY HUSBAND?!”
And my reply was something like, “Ummmmm … Errrrrr … Uhhhhh” while my face turned a very bright shade of red, and I managed a fake laugh and walked away.
Assuming the Worst
This one happened to me all the time with my second son. I also got a lot of “Oh man, two boys. Good luck!”
It’s so rude for people to ask this question, and it’s so beyond anyone’s control. I wanted two kids, and I happened to get two boys. There’s not much I could do about it, and how do you know that’s not what I wanted?
Think First Before You Speak
This question is only acceptable to ask someone if you are a doctor and that person is sitting in your doctor’s office for an appointment.
Because honestly, if the new mom says “yes,” what are you going to do for her?
Nope. Thanks for asking though!
Let me have your number, and I’ll text you when I’m up at 1:00, 2:00 and 4:00 in the morning. Sound good?
The Guilt Card
I am now a mom who works from home, but when I had my first son, I was working at an office part-time. Nothing made me feel guiltier than when I was asked this question. Of course, I felt guilty leaving my newborn behind when I went to the office! He was so tiny, and I created him.
But I wanted to work, and I knew it was the right decision for my family. I gave it a lot of thought. Where were you for all of those life choices, random stranger?