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8 Things You Should Say to a Pregnant Woman

Photograph by Twenty20

We all know what we should not be telling your pregnant mom friends. Birth stories are pretty high up on that list. I mean really, what better way to calm a woman down than to tell her all about your 36-hour labor or emergency C-section when, let's be honest, no birth is the same for any two women.

Moms with more than one kid can tell you how different their own births were for each child, and they are always willing to share those stories with you.

But what are you actually allowed to say to pregnant women? What are the safe zones? It's always a touch-and-go sort of conversation, but here are a few topics you can safely broach with the pregnant mom in your life and a few conversation starters to get you going when you just don't know what to do next.

1. Can I treat you to a massage?

Being pregnant, especially the last trimester, is just about as uncomfortable as your body can be, at least by choice. Offer to get your friend a massage. If that's too pricey, treat her to pedicures where they offer extra leg massages. Most nail salons will treat pregnant women like royalty if they are any good.

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2. Want to check out a yoga class with me?

Yoga is one of those things either women don't really think about doing when they are pregnant, or they are doing it but haven't told their instructor they are pregnant (totally a mistake). There are certain moves (like twists) pregnant women really shouldn't be doing.

Most instructors will be able to give a pregnant woman certain modifications during class to make sure they protect their baby. If you want to invite your friend to join you, make sure your instructor is able to do these modifications. If not, encourage your friend to take a prenatal class where she can bond with other pregnant women. Getting stretches in each week and, let's be honest, complaining about all of those aches and pains with people who really understand what round ligaments feel like, is worth its weight in yoga mats.

Your baby belly doesn't go away the moment you pop that precious bundle of joy out.

3. Of course maternity clothes are worth it!

No one likes to buy clothing for a body they only plan on having for nine months. If it's their first child, chances are they will need maternity clothes even less. However, a woman's self-esteem can take a hit during pregnancy. Suggest your friend give herself a budget of $100 to $200 to buy a few outfits that make them feel pretty (instead of like a growing beached whale). It is money well spent, and you can offer to make a girl's day of it with shopping, lunch and pedicures to make her feel really special.

4. Yes, you will totally be able to wear your maternity jeans even after the baby is born

It's true. Your baby belly doesn't go away the moment you pop that precious bundle of joy out. Moms will need comfy, stretchy jeans for a couple more months. If the pregnant mom in your life chooses wisely, she may never want to give them up. I cried the day I consigned my Maternal America skinny jeans. Don't tell your pregnant mom friends how big they will still be after giving birth but do assure them that the investment is worth it. We all can't have personal trainers waiting at home the minute we bring the baby back from the hospital.

5. Let's go shoe shopping!

Clothes shopping can be depressing for a pregnant mom with an expanding waistline, especially in the final months. Some women's feet do change when they are pregnant, but for those who find their feet staying about the same size, a shoe-shopping trip may be in order. Focus on cute flats to add to her wardrobe. Although she can certainly wear heels as a mom, flats tend to get the job done on a daily basis.

6. Your decisions matter to others about as much as your brand of toothpaste

One thing I realized while pregnant with my first son is that everyone has an opinion about everything having to do with my baby and me. People came out of the woodwork to give me their opinions, when, really, there was only one simple truth: my decisions mattered about as much as my brand of toothpaste in the long run.

Everyone had his or her favorite diapers. Did they really care if I used Huggies or Pampers once my son was born? Nope. As long as my decisions were not harming me or my child in some very big, fundamental way (going natural, C-section or epidural does not count), then no one had a say. Nothing mattered to anyone but my child, my husband and me.

7. It is OK to be scared. I'm here if you need me

Too many woman feel like they have to put on an "I am woman, hear me roar" face for the world when they are pregnant. Inside they may be terrified or freaking out that everything they do is wrong, why did they just gain 50 pounds when the baby only weighs 8, and how will this ever be OK when the doctor hands her a helpless infant who knows nothing of the world?

Even if you have never been pregnant yourself, you can listen. Don't be pushy with your advice; just let the pregnant women in your life know that you are always available for a hot cocoa or iced-tea date if they just need a listening ear. Even when surrounded by friends, pregnancy can be one of the loneliest times in a woman's life. Having someone to just listen is invaluable.

8. Do you need a babysitter?

One of the best things anyone can offer a pregnant woman, especially if she already has kids, is a babysitter. Whether you have teens who can babysit or you can babysit the kids yourself, this is one thing your pregnant friend really needs—a break.

If your friend doesn't have kids yet, be the first to sign up for baby duty once her child is born. It is very hard to leave a new baby in the first few months. Having a friend that you trust and know will take good care of your baby is a weight off your shoulders you can't find many places, especially if you don't have family close by.

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Reassure her that she will be able to leave the house again one day, if only to run to the market down the street by herself or for a quiet dinner with her husband. By offering your help, you are taking the "you'll never do anything for yourself again" naysayers out of the equation.

Peace of mind is the best gift of all when you are expecting a baby.

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