Two people talking
By Jody Stonehocker, MD

How to Respond to 6 Uncomfortable Questions People Ask During Pregnancy

Pregnant women encounter insensitive questions and situations throughout pregnancy, but you don’t have to divulge information or personal space unless you want to do so.

Most people would never ask someone personal questions about a health condition or touch them without asking. Unfortunately, many people see pregnancy as an exception to the rule.

From asking how much weight you’ve gained to offering unsolicited advice about your birth plan and breastfeeding, it can feel like everyone has something to say about your pregnancy. Some women don’t mind talking about their pregnancies. For others, pregnancy can be a deeply personal experience.

Your body is your business—and so is your pregnancy, to the extent you want it to be. While a friend or stranger’s questions and actions may be well-meaning, you do not have to discuss your pregnancy and you do not have to let them touch your belly.

During pregnancy, your doctor or midwife will ask a lot of questions, and some tests require that we touch you. We will always ask you first—if a test or conversation makes you uncomfortable, let us know so we can find another way to take care of you.

Standing up for yourself is not rude, and there is no need to apologize. However, you might be surprised or not know how to react in certain situations. Here are a few common, uncomfortable scenarios you might encounter during your pregnancy and tips for how to handle them.

1. “I heard you are pregnant. Is that true?”

Some women want to shout their pregnancy news from the rooftops. However, not every woman feels like celebrating their pregnancy publicly, or at all. You can tell people whenever you feel the time is right—or you can choose not to tell anyone.

You also are not obligated to answer questions about how and when you got pregnant. If you don’t want to share those details, it’s OK to say so. Try saying: “I’d rather not talk about the personal details of my pregnancy.”

An expecting mother looking at possible baby names with midwife

Related Reading

When is the best time to announce your pregnancy?

2.“Are you having a boy or a girl?”

This is often the first question you’ll be asked after announcing a pregnancy. For starters, you might not know—it’s tough to discern the baby’s anatomical sex before 18 weeks’ gestation. More importantly, you simply might not want to share those details.

There are many reasons why pregnant patients don’t want to learn or share the sex of their baby before delivery. You or your partner may:

  • Want it to be a surprise
  • Prefer to avoid gender stereotypes or assumptions
  • Feel disappointed about the sex of the baby and need to work through those feelings

If you don’t want people to know the sex of your unborn baby, you don’t have to tell them. Try saying: “I’m not telling anyone the baby’s sex.” No need to offer any further explanation!

3. “What are you going to name the baby?”

While some women are excited to share the name they’ve picked, you may want to keep it your own little secret until the baby is in your arms. Again, there could be plenty of reasons for this, for example if you:

  • Haven’t chosen a name yet.
  • Aren’t sure you are keeping the pregnancy.
  • Want to meet the baby to make sure the name you chose fits.
  • Don’t want to hear people’s opinions about your choice.
  • Plan to name the baby after someone and want to avoid jealousy (seeing the adorable new baby can help people get over it!).

You don’t have to discuss baby names if you don’t want to, even with close friends or family. Try saying: “I haven’t chosen a name” or “I want the name to be a surprise.”

4. “Look at your big belly! Are you having twins?”

Family, friends and total strangers might be compelled to mention or touch your pregnant belly. Just because you can no longer hide your growing belly doesn’t mean you have to give up normal boundaries regarding your body.

Weight gain is usually a taboo subject. For some reason, people have no problem commenting on it when you’re pregnant. “You’re huge! Are you sure it’s not twins?” “Wow, it’s looks like you’re going to have a big baby.”

Don’t hesitate to tell someone if their comments or touching makes you uncomfortable. Try saying: “Please don’t touch me. I’m all rubbed out for the day!” or “My doctor says my baby is growing fine and is happy with my weight.”

5. “Why are you planning THAT for your delivery?”

Every woman’s pregnancy and birth preferences are unique. The choices you make with your health care provider are personal. However, you may find that plenty of other people will have advice for everything from getting induced to epidurals, natural childbirth and cesarean section delivery.

Some of these suggestions may be helpful. For those that aren’t, try saying: “Thank you. I’ll think about it.” Whether you do or don’t is up to you! Remember, you can always ask your doctor or midwife if you have questions.

Related reading: 5 tips for what to include in your birth plan

6. “Are you going to breastfeed?”

How you feed your baby is your decision, and what you choose may change over time. While breastfeeding has numerous benefits for mom and baby, not every woman can or wants to breastfeed.

If a friend or family member questions your decision, try saying: “I’ve thought about this carefully, and this is what works best for me and my family.”

Related reading: Answers to 5 common questions about breastfeeding

It’s natural for people to get excited about your pregnancy, and well-meaning friends, family and even strangers may want to share in the experience. However, you don’t have to tell anyone anything you don’t feel like sharing, and your body is your personal space.

If you have questions about your pregnancy or want input on advice you’ve been given, ask your doctor or midwife. We’re always here to help!

To find out whether you or a loved one might benefit from Ob/Gyn care
Categories: Women's Health