At first, you love pretty much everything about pregnancy. Even morning sickness can be exciting at the start – proof of the new life you’re nurturing. Then you settle into the middle phase when you generally feel and look great. Everyone tells you you’re ‘glowing’. You’re not so large that life is a struggle. You have more energy. But after nine months, you’re done. You’re fat, fed-up and uncomfortable. You haven’t seen your feet for weeks. You’re sick of strangers thinking it’s ok to pat your rotund belly and ask personal questions. Yet there are some things people can’t seem to help saying to an overdue pregnant woman.
1Haven’t you had that baby yet?
Yes, I did! I just thought it would be funny to carry it around under my clothes and pretend it hadn’t arrived!
It’s a well-meant question, but it just makes us feel even more under pressure to produce quickly. Instead, try sympathy: “You must have had enough by now. How about we go for lunch/coffee?”
2You are huge!
Really? I hadn’t noticed. That’s the funny thing about being pregnant – you get bigger. Another favourite is to add on: “Are you sure it’s not twins?” Because, y’know, in spite of the scans and medical checks, there could be a chance they missed a second baby hiding away in there.
Instead of focusing on a woman’s size, compliment her. Hair and skin often looks pretty amazing during pregnancy, so comment on that instead.
3Do you mind not sitting there?
This actually happened to me when my daughter was overdue and I was at a friend’s house. She asked me not to sit on her couch in case my waters broke. It wasn’t the best thing to say to an overwrought, over-emotional mini-mountain who really needed a sympathetic ear.
I get that you want to protect your upholstery, and maybe you think it’s a jokey way to handle it. But there are kinder options. “Shall we sit at the kitchen table? It will be easier for you to get up and down than from the squashy sofa.”
4My sister drank raspberry leaf tea and went into labour straight away!
There are all kinds of tricks people swear by to bring on labour – hot curries, a brisk walk, standing on one leg in the rain. (Ok, we made that last one up.) The point is, everyone will suggest something that worked for someone they know. If you’re desperate, chances are you’ll give everything a go. I was so fed up by the time my daughter was a week late that I had a large gin & tonic. I figured it was too late to cause any damage. And yes, I had her a few hours later – but it doesn’t mean I’d recommend it to everyone.
5At least you can catch up on your sleep before the baby comes
Really? Have you tried sleeping when you’re the size of a small cottage and have a watermelon pressing on your bladder? You can’t lie on your back because it’s too uncomfortable and you get heartburn. You can’t lie on your stomach for obvious reasons. Even if you get comfy on your side, restless leg syndrome kicks in. (Well, it did for me.) Plenty of quality sleep is not a luxury you get to enjoy right at the end of pregnancy.
6It’s not that bad – at least you have time to yourself
Just don’t. You have no idea how difficult someone is finding the end stages of her pregnancy. Don’t invalidate her feelings. Sympathise with her instead. Say: “I know it must be really frustrating, but with each day you’re another step closer to meeting your baby. Does it help to look at it that way?”