I’ve given birth four times before carrying my twins and, really, I thought I had heard it all. Sure, I will admit that pregnant women are swollen, tired, and hormonal so innocent comments may annoy us more than most but we are also trying to find peace and stay positive in a situation that could have so many different outcomes.
Call it oversensitivity. Call it superstitious. Call it… polite? There are just some things that a pregnant woman never wants to hear. I had no idea, however, that this could actually be so much worse if you’re expecting more than one child. The things I’ve heard have made this experienced, weathered mama want to laugh and cry at the same time.
I know that most people mean well. I know they may not realize how rude, invasive, ridiculously personal, and/or unnecessary their comments may be coming across. I’m not trying to make anyone a villain.
That being said, there’s nothing wrong with helping others understand that, perhaps, they could use a little more tact (or restraint) when talking about something so important and significant in someone else’s life. This is a sacred time for many mothers/couples/families so the casual nature with which some people discuss it can feel a little unsettling.
So, without further ado, here are some things that you really SHOULD NOT say to a woman who is expecting twins (and suggestions for what to say instead):
Wow! What did you guys do?
This is often accompanied by, “was it natural?” Uhhh… we’re never really sure how to answer that. It’s pretty much the same thing that anyone else has done to conceive a child.
Say instead: “How amazing! Two for one! You must feel like you won the lottery!”
Do You Have Your C-Section Scheduled?
Many twins are delivered vaginally nowadays. There’s nothing wrong with a medically warranted c-section but let’s not jump to conclusions. The idea of birthing two babies is pretty intimidating without you suggesting we’ll need surgical intervention.
Say instead: “I’ve heard that twin births can be pretty special. Enjoy yours.” OR you could just skip any comments on the birth all together!
You’re Not Going to Breastfeed, Are You?
Why, yes, I plan to. Again, there’s nothing wrong with formula but there’s also nothing outlandish about breastfeeding twins. Since this is a deeply personal choice, skip the feeding questions unless you’re really close to the expectant mother.
Twins? You’re going to be so exhausted!
I’m pretty sure that other people have survived raising twins. We are well aware of the sleep we won’t have without you making it seem like the worst thing that has ever happened to us.
Say instead: “Every sacrifice you make for those little lives will be worth it.” There, you managed to let us know we are going to sacrifice while staying positive!
You Look Like You’re In Pain
Pregnancy isn’t always comfortable but, to be honest, I was feeling pretty good until someone said something like this to me. Every woman’s pregnancy is different. Don’t project your experience onto others, please 🙂
Say instead: “You are looking like a strong, twin-producing mama!”
Another One So Soon?
Maybe it was failed birth control or a particularly lustful moment. Maybe the parents wanted their kids close in age. Maybe the mother is getting closer to 40 and wants to ensure her child has a sibling. Whatever the reason, it’s none of your business. There’s such an unspoken shame associated with having children back-to-back that I bristle every time someone says “and how old is your other baby?” Old enough for me to be pregnant again, I guess! Chances are, the parents are having their own concerns without having to answer yours :/
Say instead (if you must comment): “They are going to have so much fun growing up together!”
You Must be Finished, Right?
This one just floors me. What an absolutely rude and inappropriate thing to say! Are you really asking us to engage in family-planning with you? Why would you think you have a right to ask that question and, really, what does it matter to you? Unless you or social services is taking care of our children, this is really no one’s business.
Say instead: “You’ve got a house full of love!”
I Hope it All Works Out
Well, gee, so do we. I don’t know what it is about the word “hope” in this context but I cannot stand it. By saying, “I hope it works out,” you are making implications that it won’t be okay. Sure, that’s true for almost anything in life but why remind someone of this at a time when they probably feel most vulnerable? It’s like saying “well, I hope you survive your heart surgery.” Why would you say that? Just say something positive and encouraging at the risk that you might be wrong about tragedy potentially striking. Sigh.
Say instead: “You are totally going to rock this!”
Can You Stretch Any More?
Unless a woman has been through multiple twin pregnancies, she’s also probably wondering how much her body can expand. She’s probably praying, several times a day, that her body will continue to stretch to accommodate her growing babies. It’s also a bit overwhelming to see your own body change so much, even compared to prior pregnancies. If you are looking at her and thinking she’s way bigger than you ever imagined, so is she. Please be sensitive.
Say instead: “Wow! A woman’s body is capable of some truly miraculous things. Good job, mama!”
Can I Have One?
Um, I know that this is a joke but this could really be a trigger for some parents-to-be. They’ve probably been through the genetic counseling at the first trimester screening and, let me tell you, it’s scary stuff. They prepare you for all kinds of terrible things to happen which, sadly, includes the possible loss of one (or both) babies. We have to go through a lot of additional tests throughout the pregnancy to ensure that both children are growing well so losing a baby is a valid fear for twin parents. They’d prefer not to think of having one taken from them.
Here are some other great suggestions for things to say to an expectant mom:
“You look amazing!”
“Twins — what fun!”
“You are so blessed!”
What about you? Have you ever experienced someone saying something you found rude? How did you handle it?