How to: Put the brakes on awkward pregnancy conversations

awkward pregnancy conversationsAh, awkward pregnancy conversations. Nothing draws unwanted opinion-sharers out of the woodwork like pregnancy. You know the type: The well-meaning stranger who just cannot wait to tell you about their sister’s grisly birthing story while you’re trying to load groceries into your car at the supermarket, or the not-so-helpful coworker commenting on how fast you’ve gained weight. They hide at barbecues, in waiting rooms, and at bus stops – nowhere is sacred any more!

The art of conversational self defence: Deftly avoiding awkward pregnancy conversations

However, there’s no reason for you to feel obliged to engage in conversations you feel uncomfortable with. Don’t risk being struck speechless. Instead, defuse awkward pregnancy conversations with these clever sidesteps.

1. “Well, what you should really do is…” 

Here’s what to say to dodge that unwanted advice!

  • “Great tip! I’ve been kind of overloaded with advice recently – do you mind if we talk about something else?”
  • “That’s something to keep in mind. Did you hear about (add an alternative topic here)?”
  • “We’ll figure that out when we get to it.”
  • “Hmmm, thanks!” (Then end the conversation if you want to.)

2. “You know, you should really be more grateful. Just wait until…”

Here are some ideas for putting the brakes on people minimising your valid feelings or dismissing your tiredness.

  • “Okay!” (Then end the conversation, and go hang out with someone who is capable of making you feel heard without minimising your feelings.)
  • “Yes, I am definitely grateful. But on any given nine months of my life, I am bound to have felt worried/sad/anxious/sore at some point. This is one of those points, it just happens to be during my pregnancy.”
  • “I don’t think it’s necessary to enjoy every single minute of pregnancy. Quite a few of my minutes are taken up with desperately needing to wee, which isn’t pleasant. So I’m aiming to enjoy as many moments as possible!”
  • “So you’re telling me the insomnia is likely to get worse once I give birth? That’s not helpful for me to hear right now.”
  • “I don’t doubt that there’ll be new challenges at each phase of my pregnancy, but at the moment my main challenge is (then repeat the original challenge you mentioned).”

3. “You know, my friend just had the most terrible labour…”

Here’s how to stop distressing stories in their tracks.

There’s certainly wisdom in researching any labour-related risks, but understandably, not every mum-to-be feels comfortable hearing the specific details about traumatic births or pregnancy complications. If that’s you, and it sounds like someone’s about to head in that direction, try leaping in with the following conversational life rafts, or recruit a close friend to step in for you.

  • “Sorry, does this story end happily? Recently I’ve been trying to avoid any stories that are too sad or gory.”
  • “For my own reassurance, I’m focusing on happy pregnancy anecdotes. Can you tell me what went positively?”
  • “Hang on! I’m going to interrupt you there. Could you tell me an encouraging birthing story instead?”
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