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What not to say to a pregnant woman — and the 1 thing you absolutely should

Entering my 39th week of pregnancy, I reflect on nine months of ludicrous comments about my pregnant belly and baby-to-be.
/ Source: TODAY

When the ultrasound technician told me my baby boy was already 8-and-a-half pounds ("give or take a half-pound"), I did the math third-grader style on my fingers.

If the half-a-pound-a-week growth trajectory was correct, my first-born would be 10 pounds by my due date.

And yet the idea of expelling a 10-pound baby out wasn't what flustered me most as I left the doctor's office last week. Instead it was the comment from a stranger on my subway ride home: "Wow! Bowling ball! No, no! Basketball!"

Lauren and Aaron in Puerto Rico
My hubby, Aaron, and me in Puerto Rico during our "babymoon." I was 27 weeks pregnant (and thought I couldn't get any bigger).Lauren Sullivan / TODAY

Like a lot of people on the MTA, it was unclear whether the guy was high or just commuting loudly. But even if his comment was drug-induced, it was nothing new: I've heard similarly awkward and inappropriate color commentary since I hit the six-month mark.

For some inexplicable reason, people don't know what to say when they see a pregnant woman — but they feel the need to say something. Whether it's unsolicited advice ("Don't get an epidural! Labor won’t hurt!"), off-the-mark observations ("Are you having twins? Triplets?") or a random burst of inappropriateness in the middle of IKEA ("Big breakfast, eh?"), I thought I'd heard them all.

Out to dinner, 35 weeks pregnant
The week Baby Boy seemed to double in size: 35 weeks.Lauren Sullivan / TODAY

And then I spoke to other TODAY moms and learned (with a growing sense of alarm) that I've actually had it pretty good. Here's just a taste of what the group of us has heard during pregnancy:

What not to say to a pregnant woman
Rob Donnelly / TODAY

(Full disclosure: The burrito comment — my boss’s conciliatory response when I told her I was pregnant and self-conscious about my not-quite-showing-yet body — was actually very funny at the time.)

So, as I enter my 39th week of pregnancy, it feels like the perfect time to offer advice to those who feel the need to offer theirs. Here's the one thing you should say to a pregnant woman. (You know, the person who's in the process of growing a human being in her womb.)

"You look wonderful!"

And if you find yourself struggling to remember those three magic words? "Congratulations!" as an alternative is fine, too.

You're welcome. Now excuse me as I emotionally prepare to welcome this burrito/basketball/big breakfast into the world.