15 Things You Should Never, Ever, NEVER Say to a Woman in Labor

Sarah del Rio
Written by Sarah del Rio

Recently, BLUNTMoms editor Anne Radcliffe led us contributors down an emotional and psychological rabbit hole by asking us to share with her our grossest pregnancy secrets. You know, the ones no one talks about? We had a blast with it, reminiscing long time about our experiences with insidious acne, all-day “morning” sickness, and the hardest, driest, most hemorrhoid-inducing pebbles of poop ever to see the light of day.

It was so much fun, in fact, that we at BLUNTMoms decided to get together and overshare with each other once again. But this time? We threw down about the most ridiculous things that people had ever said to us during labor.

You see, expectant mothers like to cling to the belief that they will be guided gently through the labor process by an encouraging team of helpful nurses, polite doctors, and supportive partners. But the fact of the matter is that tensions often run high in the maternity ward, which can lead medical staff, family members, and significant others alike to say things to laboring mothers that they should never, ever, NEVER say.

NEVER.

Things like:

1. “Hold on, I have to take this call.” Oh, supportive partner. Hear this and hear it well. If you pull this shit, you will never live it down. Not for the rest of your ever-loving life. You will be forever known as That One Asshole who was on a conference call, glued to a laptop, or sending nonstop emails while his or her child was coming into the world.

Listen. If a colleague from work is pestering you with some immediate and desperate request while your wife or partner is in labor, just remind them gently, but firmly, that you are unavailable until she finishes PUSHING AN EIGHT-POUND WRITHING MASS OUT OF HER UTERUS THROUGH HER VAGINAL CANAL. It’s only respectful. 

2. “Honey, this is so amazing. I have to call my mom.” We know your mom is dying to hear all about the birth of her new grandchild. Just like she’s dying to keep a judgmental eyeball on all of your parenting choices so that she can jump in with unsolicited advice at a moment’s notice. Still—IT HAS TO WAIT. Do you hear me? SHE has to wait. This is your moment, and your partner’s moment.

3. “You CAN’T be in labor.” Wanna bet?

4. “This is a teaching hospital. Do you mind if we bring in the medical students?” “Why no! Not at all! Feel totally free to bring in whoever! I’m not at one of the most vulnerable stages of my entire life or anything. In fact, I was just thinking how I’d LOVE to have a humongous crowd of strangers jostling around my sweaty, hairy, mostly naked, very pregnant body. The more, the merrier!”

5. You do understand that this is an “optional C,” correct?” Yes, Doctor. Despite the fact that you told me that under no circumstances was I to deliver this baby vaginally due to the many severe health risks to the baby and/or myself, I am indeed having an “optional C.” Yup. Totally “optional.”

6.I’m hungry and/or tired.” “Aww, hon. You’re hungry, huh? I mean, I haven’t been able to eat anything but ice chips for twelve straight hours, but it’s cool. You run downstairs and get something from Wendy’s. Even better, why don’t you bring it back up here to the room so I can smell its delicious greasy goodness and watch in jealous misery while you eat it? Then, when you’re done, you can take a nice, long nap. It must be EXHAUSTING to have to sit in a chair and look concerned while I grunt through hours of excruciating contractions.”

7. “Are you planning on having more children?” Are you really asking me that right now? Because if you’re really asking me that right now, my answer is an unequivocal “NEVER AGAIN AND WHERE IS THAT GOD DAMN EPIDURAL?”

8. “Relax. Sshhh.” No, YOU relax. YOU sshhh. I’m busy being in the most pain and discomfort that ever was. And don’t you dare tell me not to grunt or scream or get upset. I don’t give two shits about whether I might be “hurting my throat,” “winding myself up,” or “unsettling the other patients.” I’m the one having the baby here—I’ma scream if I want to. And I want to.

 9. How bad can it really hurt?” BAD. 

10. “Stop pushing.” We appreciate obstetric nurses here at BLUNTMoms. We really do. Their hours are long, their jobs are tough, and their shifts are full of intense ups and downs. And yet? If the top of a baby’s head is clearly visible between our legs, we surely would love it if the OB nurses attending our bedsides would NOT advise us to “Stop pushing and wait for the doctor.” We don’t care if it’s procedure. You’ve delivered thousands of babies, right? THEN DELIVER THIS ONE!

11. “You’re a birth warrior! You’re a goddess!” PLEASE shut up with that patronizing, trying-too-hard bullshit. The mere sound of your voice is making me want to wrap my hands around your throat and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.  

12. “Are you okay?!” NO. I AM NOT.

13. “Your partner can go ahead and have a look behind the curtain. It’s not nearly as bad as most people imagine.” Of course, it isn’t… to YOU. You’re a doctor. You look at all kinds of blood and guts and gore every day. My squeamish partner doesn’t, and now he or she is in a crumpled heap on the floor, out cold, and in need of medical attention.

14. “LOOK AT ALL THAT HAIR!” There’s always someone who feels the need to make a comment about the prodigious shock of hair bulging out from between your legs. Granted, he or she is usually referring to the baby’s head. Still, most laboring ladies haven’t shaved in that region in months, and at least some of us are going to assume you’re talking about our overgrown pubic bramble bushes. Just keep all things hair-related to yourself until the baby is born, because we really don’t need to be reminded of that particular indignity while we’re in the thick of it.

15. “You’ll forget all of this once you see the baby… and the next one will be so much easier.” This is a damnable lie, and in the whole of your lifetime, you will never see its equal.

About the author

Sarah del Rio

Sarah del Rio

Sarah del Rio is a comedy writer whose award-winning humor blog est.1975 brings snark, levity, and perspective to the ladies of Generation X.

Despite being a corporate refugee with absolutely no formal training in English, journalism, or writing of any kind, Sarah earns her daily bread as a freelance writer and editor. She has also contributed to several anthologies, including I STILL Just Want to Pee Alone, the latest installment in the national-bestselling I Just Want to Pee Alone series.

Sarah contributes regularly to BLUNTMoms and has made frequent appearances on The Huffington Post Best Parenting Tweets of the Week List. She has also been featured on Scary Mommy, In the Powder Room, and the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop.

You can also follow Sarah on her blog est.1975 and on Facebook and Twitter.

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19 Comments

  • My husband tried to turn some music on on his phone but I thought he was about to make a phone call so I nicely asked him to PUT THE EFFING PHONE AWAY, ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME? He was so scared he never did turn that music on. Thankfully the only thing on this list he did was complain about being tired and hungry. Oh baby, you don’t even know how sorry I am to hear—ACK HOLY HELL CONTRACTION! SHUT UP YOU BIG BABY!
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  • i love this. I remember years ago, when I was in labor with my son, my husband kept asking me, “does it hurt?” The last time he asked that, he was leaned over me, almost face to face. When he asked that question again, I was having a contraction. I reached up, grabbed his mustache, twisted it and proclaimed, “THATS what it feels like”. He backed away and didn’t ask that anymore.

  • The second labor was WAY more painful, and she was over a pound smaller. My soon-to-be ex husband went home while I labored with both babes so he could get some sleep and eat. Then he yelled at my mother because he didn’t make it back on time to see our 2nd be born. I told him off. The next day he tried to drop our son off so he could go to church. Oh, and he also informed me that his first wife didn’t complain at all when she birthed his oldest. And that I must have a low pain tolerance (first was natural, second I had one dose of something to help) Can’t wait for this divorce to be final!!!

  • After 36 hours of labor I was spent and begging for the epidural! The anesthesiologist came in and I had to hunch over my Huge belly so he could get the needle in, and told not to move. Well that is the crappiest, worst position to be in and during contractions I felt like I couldn’t breathe and told my husband. That dumb anesthesiologist said “I had a colleague say that if you can say that, obviously you can breathe.” He paused for a minute and then said “well I thought it was funny.” I wanted to tell him to let me kick him in the balls really hard and then we could talk about funny!!!

  • I was told I was frightening the other patients with my screaming. They should be frightened I said. While I was pushing, I begged my husband not to look. He did anyway and promptly screamed “OH MY GOD BABE, IT LOOKS LIKE YOU’RE TURNING INSIDE OUT! “. Then, when the horror was over, my OB told me “your body was built for having babies, you should have ten of them.”. Thankfully my body was not, in fact, built for having babies. My two younger children were born by c-section.

  • My terrible father came close to me and told me, “You deserve this!” this all while i was induced a day before my due date, i delivered without pain meds or an epidural. My first child. I was scared & dealing with back labor because she was OP. My mom was in the bathroom. I understand the frustration. I was 20, unmarried, & just got off an unsavory lifestyle when i found out i was expecting my miracle but that was the worst thing he could ever had said to me.

  • I was in the middle of a 22 hour labour with my daughter when my vampire mother-in-law rang me in the labour ward to tell me the football scores. I couldn’t give less of a shit about football when I’m not pushing an upside-down great hairy bowling ball out of my cooch, so thanks for that MIL!

  • With my 3rd, I told my husband before he went to bed around 10 that I was in labor. I woke him up later after FIVE hours of intense contractions to tell him the midwife was on the way and he replied “oh, I didn’t think you were really in labor.” He also slept through almost all of my fourth labor, I threw my phone at his peacefully sleeping head when I was in transition and told him to “call the f*ing midwife, now!”

  • WOW! My partner tried to make jokes – trying to make me laugh but, I did not have the energy to hit him!
    But, I can relate to #6 & #8. Relax? HA! And, can he have a break…. not for a while!
    Thank you!