Why You Should Never Ask a Woman If She Is Pregnant

Ever.

That's me, in an empire-waist dress. Nope. Not pregnant.

Hi, Be Wellers! I know we haven’t officially met, but I wanted to interrupt your regularly scheduled program to pass along a little friendly advice. Think of it as a public-service announcement as we venture ever further into the Season of Eating, a time when all of us are trying our damnedest (hello, enormous sweater) to hide a few extra gingerbread-induced pounds.

Okay, here goes: Never, ever (EVER!) ask a woman if she is pregnant. You run the risk of looking like an idiot and causing copious amounts of embarrassment (and, probably, tears. In that order.) in the highly plausible scenario that she’s not actually pregnant and just maybe, you know, not looking her very best at that particular moment in time.

I always figured this little nugget of wisdom was obvious enough on its own that it didn’t need to be stated aloud. You know, sort of like, “Don’t stick your hand in the fire, moron.” But apparently I was mistaken. Here’s why: In the past year, five people (5!) have stopped me and congratulated me on my pregnancy. Before you shout “Mazel tov!” at your computer screen and crack open a bottle of champagne, there’s more: I AM NOT PREGNANT.

So here’s what I would like to tell you today: If ever you pass a lady on the street and think to yourself, “I want to ruin that lady’s day,” go ahead and ask her when her baby is due. You will certainly ruin her day and potentially her week and month with it. No amount of other people saying, “What! That person was crazy!” will make her feel any better.

I know this because it has happened to me … five times. Last week was the most recent incident. We had food delivered at work for a large meeting, and when I stood up from my desk to sign the credit card slip, the delivery man shouted (literally, shouted), “Congratulations! Girl or boy?” When I informed him that the answer was neither, which was awkward enough, he asked me why I don’t want a baby. Is there a polite way to say to someone, “Please, just stop talking”? Instead, I gave him a $5 tip then had a good cry at my desk.

Okay, so before you get all girl power and start posting comments about how evil men are and they should know better, I should mention that of the five people who’ve asked if I’m pregnant, one was a woman. I mean, she really should know better, right? The answer there, of course, is yes, and to that woman I say: I am still giving you the stink-eye a full year later. So there.

To the four men who have asked me about my non-existent upcoming birth, here are a few things you should know:

1. Once upon a time, I was chubby. I got married, gained 20 pounds (did you know this is a thing? Like the freshman 15, but with marriage. Whatever you lost for the wedding, plus 10 pounds. Who knew?), then I lost 20 pounds (hooray, Weight Watchers!) and have maintained it ever since. By asking me if I am pregnant, you just undid everything good I felt about myself up until this moment.

2. You are on my list, Kill Bill-style, for life. Although I will smile at you while you fix the photocopier, sign for the packages you deliver and give you your $5 tip for delivering the office pizza, I have dismembered you in my head many times over.

3. Empire-waist clothing is not just for pregnant ladies. They are universally flattering and comfortable, and most women—yes, even the super-duper skinny ones—probably have a shirt or dress in that style.

4. No matter what else you say after you ask a woman if she is pregnant (even if she is actually pregnant, say several pregnant friends of mine), all she will hear is, “I THINK YOU ARE FAT.” There is literally no recovering from the previous question, and your best bet is to just run. Run fast, run far, just run.

Here is my cardinal rule about asking a woman if she is pregnant: Unless you can see the baby making its way out of the womb, do.not.ask. Not even if her ankles are swollen 18 times their normal size and she is wearing sweatpants to work because that’s all that fits her right now. Not even if her belly has popped so far that you have to back up 10 steps so that she can turn around. Not even if her water just broke alllllll over your shoes—okay, maybe at that point you get a pass. But barring that! Unless that baby is crowning like you saw when you were traumatized by that Miracle of Birth video in high school sex-ed, do not ask a woman if she is pregnant. Ever.

Okay! On with December!

>> Please tell me I’m not alone, Be Wellers. Has anyone ever asked if you’re pregnant when you’re not? How did you handle the situation? I’d love to hear your tales of woe in the comments!

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  • Kate

    Hilariously true! I once had a delivery man refuse to let me help carry boxes because of my “condition”. I was wearing an empire-waist shirt and will forever hate him for trying to be thoughtful, but just being dumb. All the dopes out there should read this post and take notes!

  • Epoe

    I disagree completely. As a guy, if I’m asking if you’re pregnant it’s most likely not because I think you look pregnant. It’s probably because someone told me you were pregnant or, perhaps, I know you were trying to get pregnant. So, in these cases it’s meant to be a joyous question type thing.

    Now if you DO look pregnant it’s probably not because of your weight. You’re just wearing the wrong clothes. Again, I’m a guy and not very fashionable, but those stupid high waist lines girls wear are stupid. They make it seem as though your boobs are connected right to your legs. In my male adolescent mind a female that is all boobs and legs is awesome, but in reality these clothes make your lower belly look puffy (no matter your weight). So in those cases, puffy lower belly = pregnant.

    In short, suck it up and wear better clothes.

    • Troll

      Says the hornball with the one track mind. Listen bro, there’s a reason why you’re posting on this article in your mother’s basement. Keep your inane quasi-fashion advice to yourself and obey Rebekka’s requests. Good day.

  • http://www.spitthatoutthebook.com Paige

    This is great. I have been asked if I was pregnant at least a dozen times over the years when I was NOT. Most recently I was congratulated BEFORE this new baby was conceived and while I was in the best shape of my life. This is also why I now tell everyone I see that I am, in fact, pregnant, so they dont have to gaze at my belly and wonder.

  • Sarah

    Epoe, darling guy with the mind of a “male adolescent,” stop asking. For the record, just because someone is trying to get pregnant doesn’t mean you have free reign to start asking for status updates. And while you’re at it, stop doling out fashion advice. We don’t tell you that your stupid t-shirt gives you man-boobs and ask you if you’re breast-feeding. We don’t ask if you have a stomach tumor when you wear ill-fitting pants that show your paunch, and we don’t console you for having alopecia when we notice that you’re balding. You know why? Because we aren’t assholes. But perhaps we should suck it up and start probing you about the medical reasons behind your “puffy lower belly.” Empire-waist lines may not be the most flattering on all women, but that’s still not a reason for ill-mannered men to ask about buns in the oven. (Any for the record, Rebekka looks adorable in that little sundress.)

  • Tamara

    After I had my son, I was on the postpartum floor (not L&D) gazing at him lovingly in the nursery. A woman came up to me and asked me what I was having. As in future tense. I just said, “boy” and she walked away. Sometimes context clues can be helpful.

  • Rebekka

    Kate – the term condition is particularly amusing. I would have been like “omg, how does he know about my asthma?!”.

  • Dee

    Love your commentary, Bekka. It happens to us all. However, there’s nothing worse than a grandson asking if you are pregnant when you are well over 50. It’s funny and sad all at once.

  • Jaye

    Thanks for a good laugh and very important advice!

  • HappenedToMeToday

    Dear Epoe,

    I am happy to hear that you have never experienced trying to get pregnant. Firstly because we just don’t need more clueless people in the world. Secondly, you were spared the emotional exhaustion that comes along with it. A word of advice my friend: If you think (or even know for a fact) that a couple is trying to get pregnant, NEVER ask if they are yet. Announcing a pregnancy is a happy and sacred moment. If this couple wants you to know that they are pregnant, they will tell you. And, if they’re not, it’s a sore subject and yep, you just brought it up.

  • Nikki

    Love your article!!!! The question is….why do people feel a need to comment on someone else’s body in general! And, I hate to break it to you, but, after having a baby you will then go through the whirl wind of loosing the “baby weight”. Apparently there is a time table that every woman should follow in losing this weight. If you are ahead of schedule you will get lots of “WOW you look great” comments. If you are behind schedule you will get “It is so hard to loose the weight, isn’t it?” And, if you are on time you get nothing! 3 days after having Lucy….I repeat 3 DAYS…my FIL thought it would be appropriate to tell me I still had a belly and how surprised he was that I still looked pregnant! I have dismembered him, many times, in my mind as well. Thanks for sharing!!!

  • Jen h

    I answered the door to a college student selling magazines. After politely declining his offer to sell me on his magazines he tried to pull the hardsell by stating they even offered parenting magazine, didnt i want to be a good parent to my future child as he gestured to my midsection.
    I congratulated him on the bold attempt to upsell,
    then suggested he never ever mention a womans perceived condition again, as i was not pregnant.i then suggested he call his mother and suggest she purchase said parenting magazine.

  • amanda

    I have to disagree- No non – pregnant woman should wear empire clothing. It flatters no one other than pregnant woman. I slipped today and it wa sb/c of the shirt. I felt terrible- b/c mothers day is this weekend. But come on- Those shirts make everybody wonder. Not flattering .

  • Faux Pas

    I’ve
    been asked several times too and it’s awful. I’ve
    warned my boys to never ask a lady this question (they were with me one
    time when it happened). I felt like wearing a shirt or a buttons saying “I am NOT pregnant” or printing an informative paper to keep folded in my purse, ready to hand askers. Alternatively, I could play along by saying yes, then suddenly punch my stomach a few times and watch their reaction!

    I remember when I was early on in pregnancy and a
    guy asked me when I was due, and I was surprised that he would dare
    because I was barely showing at all, wearing regular clothes. Nobody
    ever asks if you’re pregnant when you’re 9 months along because it’s so
    obvious by that point. I have never worn empire-waist clothing and I’m barely overweight….although I’m more apple-shaped than pear. I’ve
    have had women ask me as well.

    Giving the askers the benefit of the
    doubt, I think one “subconscious” reason why they ask is because they
    think it’s wonderful to have a human being almost born and they’re
    excited for you. Like if you were to see something great, you get your hopes up but then you realize you were mistaken: it’s something else entirely. Or if you think you see a friend and say HI,
    but it turns out to be a stranger…. that’s a similar faux pas…. but
    NOT nearly as bad as asking The Question.