Things you should never say to a pregnant coworker

Pregnancy can be a stressful time for expectant mothers — and sometimes nosy coworkers (and bosses) can add to the misery. Aside from the physical changes, mothers-in-waiting have a host of hurdles to overcome at work, like figuring out a plan for maternity leave and keeping the news under wraps.

The US outlaws pregnancy discrimination at work outright, but many pregnant women say there are subtle ways even the most well-intentioned coworkers can make them feel ostracized. Some comments, like asking the baby’s gender, might seem well intentioned, but come across as invasive. Other questions can make pregnant women feel alienated and might even discourage them from returning to the same job.

I recently spoke with Business Insider about some of the comments that frustrate expectant mothers the most. (Writer’s note: I’m passionate about creating a more invigorated, satisfied workplace. But another business of mine happens to produce expandable belts that are ideal for expectant women not quite ready for the big announcement!)

Here are some brief suggestions on what you should never say to a pregnant coworker — and the reasons for not saying them:

  • “Wow, you’re getting big!” Comments on anyone’s body are discriminatory. Most people don’t want to be treated any differently while at work, especially while they are undergoing physical changes.
  • “Are you ready for your vacation?” (In reference to maternity leave). Having a newborn is not a vacation. It can be stressful, tiring and could even be depressing. “Insinuating parental leave is a vacation can make pregnant mothers feel unsupported by their colleagues,” the article stated.
  • “I guarantee you won’t be able to leave your baby once maternity leave ends.’ You run the risk of making a pregnant woman feel further alienated from her job. If she loves her job, she’ll find a way to continue with it. This is always a sensitive topic.
  • “Is it a boy or girl?” This may seem benign, but it is a private matter and really not your business.
  • “Can I touch your bump?” Unless asked, touching the baby bump is violating personal space. Therefore, keep your hands to yourself.
  • “You really shouldn’t be drinking coffee.” Pregnant women often hear unsolicited advice on their eating and drinking habits at work. Time and again this comes from coworkers who don’t have a clue as to what an expectant mom should or should not eat
  • “Was the baby planned?” An invasive question if there ever was one. Totally none of your business.

For more details of Seven things you should never say to a pregnant coworker and what you should say, whether you’re a coworker or a boss, see the full article at Business Insider.