I’m excited to share this post as part of a new partnership with Disney Baby, where I’m going to have a chance to write a lot more posts geared toward expectant and new mothers. Check out the end of the post for more details!
I think most of us have our own mental list of things you should never say to a pregnant woman. You know, things like “Just you WAIT until…!”, or “Are you SURE you’re not closer to your due date than that?” Ugh, right?
But what about those things that are great to hear when you’re expecting? Those supportive, spirit-lifting, confidence-boosting statements that help an expecting mom feel encouraged and understood? Here are my three favorites:
1. “Good for you!”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with a pregnant woman in which she has timidly expressed her plans to have a home birth/get an epidural/go back to work/stay home/breastfeed/bottlefeed…and then visibly relaxed, brightened, and actually stood up taller when I’ve expressed confidence in her decision-making abilities.
We all thrive on praise and encouragement, and pregnancy is an especially vulnerable time when every choice feels fraught with importance and potential failure. I refuse to pile on and add to guilt, stress or uncertainty – even when a mom is planning to do the exact opposite of what I would do (or what I think I would do) in her position.
Because it’s not about me. It’s not about what I subconsciously may think is the “better” choice for her (and let’s admit it, deep down we all have our biases and preferences.)
Unless she’s explicitly asking for advice – or is confessing something truly alarming, i.e. she plans not to feed her baby, period – I think the correct answer to one of those uncertain confessions is always something along the lines of “Wow, that’s great!” or “I totally understand,” or “Sounds like you’ve really thought this through.”
It’s not always possible to be gung-ho supportive regarding a decision you feel iffy about. In that case I’ve found “Tell me more!” to be a great alternative to snap judgment, unwanted advice or criticism.
If nothing else it gives me a clearer picture of where the other woman is coming from and what’s helping to shape her decision…and it helps her feel heard and understood, too. It may also give me an opportunity to share my experiences and opinions without sounding like I’m criticizing her choices.
2. “How can I help?”
Moms to be often have a hard time asking for help…and they aren’t likely to take you up on vague offers like “Let me know if you ever need anything!” or “Need any help?” The great thing about “How can I help!?” is that it’s not a “yes”, “no”, or “okay, I will!” question. It requires some kind of specific response.
It’s possible she really hasn’t considered how somebody might be able to help her. If she looks confused or flustered, you could even make suggestions of things that you found or would have found really helpful in her position.
Maybe she needs somebody to arrange care for her dog while she’s giving birth and recovering? Maybe grocery shopping is no longer comfortable and she could use somebody to pick up a few things from the store? Maybe she could use help caring for an older child during those first few weeks postpartum?
Make a suggestion or two, see what appeals to her, and then commit before it falls by the wayside.
3. “You’re going to be a great mom.”
Deep down, every mother-to-be just wants to know she’s got this.
That she can handle the sleepless nights and endless nursing sessions and eighty million diaper changes everyone’s been telling her about.
That she has the heart, the brains, the skills and the knowledge to make excellent decisions for herself and her baby.
That not every decision has to be excellent. That love and effort and trying again will outweigh all the little mistakes she’ll make along the way.
I believe confident moms are happier moms. I believe happier moms are better moms. And I think a boost of confidence is the best gift any mother can give another.
Besides, it’s true. She is going to be a great mom. Maybe even better because you took the opportunity to tell her so. So why not do it now?
What’s your favorite thing to say to a pregnant woman?
This post is sponsored by Disney Baby. I’ll be joining the Disney Baby blogging team next month, and look forward to sharing more stories to help women make the journey to motherhood a happy one! Stay tuned for more details!