What is it about seeing a baby bump that makes people talk rubbish? I suppose it comes from a good place – you see a pregnant lady, you feel protective towards her, and the next thing you know you’ve vomited up some half-remembered fact or old wives’ tale to ruin her day.
For the mum-to-be, though, it’s disconcerting to have to justify every bike ride or cup of coffee to the world. It’s also enraging, because the assumption seems to be that she’s too dim to make her own choices.
So if you can’t think of anything sensible to say to a pregnant woman, please just sit with her in silent contemplation of the tiny bomb that’s about to go off in her life. Anything has to be better than going…
1. “Why didn’t you tell me you were pregnant? I might have walked into you or something.”
You’ve answered your own question here, lovely friend Dave: I didn’t tell you I was pregnant because I knew you’d treat me differently. A pregnant woman needs sleep, regular meals and folic acid – not a 6ft no-fly-zone around her body.
2. “A coffee? Sorry, no. Not unless it’s decaf.”
A server in a London department store café actually said this to an Italian woman I know. “One of the others might serve you, but not me,” she continued. “I’m a grandmother.” I mean, what the actual?
Here’s what you need to know, Mean Café Granny. 1) Never get between an Italian and a cappuccino. 2) Studies on caffeine and pregnancy are inconclusive. Current advice in the UK is to limit coffee consumption during pregnancy, no one is saying to cut it out altogether. 3) It’s a latte, not a bomb.
3. “Can I touch the bump?”
Not stupid in itself but it really depends who is asking. Close friends: yes. Colleagues: maybe, if I’m in a good mood. Man on bus: get the hell away from me.
4. “Have you tried ginger?”
Yes, my friend Lisa who spent the vast majority of both her pregnancies on IV fluids in hospital because she had hyperemesis and couldn’t keep anything down, even sips of water, had tried ginger. Seems like it didn’t work.
5. “Cake is bad for the baby. If you want something sweet, eat a red pepper.”
Why don’t YOU eat a red pepper while I crack on with this massive bit of carrot cake? (I’ve got to get my five a day somehow, haven’t I.)
6. “WiFi is bad for the baby. It stops them growing.”
Here comes the science part: oh, wait. There isn’t one because this claim (made to my friend Vicky, a pregnant IT consultant) is RIDICULOUS.
7. “You shouldn’t exercise, to be on the safe side.”
What safe side is that, pray tell? The side where I’m stressed out, overweight and unfit when my baby arrives? Jog on.
8. “Babies have been born with alcohol withdrawal when their mothers only had one glass of wine during their whole pregnancy.”
The midwife at my booking-in appointment, to me, when she found out I was still drinking 1-2 glasses of wine a week. Maybe I should have just lied. She was obviously gullible enough to believe the mums who were all like: “My newborn needs drying out? That’s so weird cos I’m not an alcoholic or anything… it must be because I had 125ml of Jacobs Creek in Week 9.”
9. “Childbirth can be sexy… some women even orgasm.”
“I wasn't convinced of that while I was having myself episiotomied,” says Lucy. (Read more on the theory of childbirth orgasms here .)
10. “Ah, you look blooming – even if you don’t feel it.”
Just to prove you don’t have to be up the duff to have your day ruined by other people’s idiocy… a lady in the street said this to my friend Michelle, WHO IS NOT PREGNANT. Oops.