The One Question You Don't Ask Pregnant Ladies

One question never to ask a pregnant mama

"What are you going to call him/her?"

I nearly choked on my coffee. It was my first time visiting a playgroup and I was making small talk with the other mums. Naturally that small talk revolved around an easy topic - my big belly.

"Um," I replied, "we're keeping it a secret."

"Oh, ok," the other mum laughed awkwardly, "I wouldn't tell anyone."

That's what they all say. 

Ok, ok, so some parents are happy to tell you the names they've chosen for their baby. But I think it's fair to say that 99% of parents these days choose to keep it a secret until the big announcement. Why?

  • You might change your mind on the name at any point.
  • You will get a LOT of feedback, especially negative feedback. People are not afraid to tell you what they think about names when you're pregnant, but once baby is born, people tend to keep their opinions to themselves.
  • Telling people seemingly invites their input and suggestions.
  • The baby's health and future are not certain.

Here are a few real life examples from my own circle of friends, family, and workmates:

  • One mum had struggled through years of infertility, and finally was going to make it to full term. However, her medical practitioners advised her the baby wouldn't survive likely more than a few days, and so she decided to name the baby while she was pregnant. That way, her family got to bond and 'have' their baby while she was still alive (in the womb). It was very special and important for them.
  • One mum told everyone the baby's name and then lost the baby late in her pregnancy. The parents then had to make the tough decision and ended up changing the baby's name so they could use their preferred name (hopefully) in the future. It was tough for them, and also for family and everyone who knew the baby's name and now were mourning for a baby with a different name to the one they'd bonded with.
  • One mum told her own mother the names she liked. The older mother then proceeded to tell her pregnant daughter all the reasons she hated those names and why the names were forbidden from being bestowed upon the future baby. Next time, pregnant mama kept her name ideas to herself.
  • One mum had a name chosen, and then when the baby was born she just looked at her little boy and thought, 'I can't name you that'. The name she'd chosen just 'didn't suit' her baby, and she had to change it.

Those are just a few examples. What have you experienced in your life? Are people supportive of name choices or do they love giving you feedback?

No matter what you choose to do, I think the important thing is not to put pregnant mamas on the spot. Instead of asking "what are you going to call the baby?", try rephrasing it to a more general discussion: "what sort of names do you like?" It will make everyone more comfortable, and they can still tell you what name they've chosen if they want to.