I’ve been contemplating writing on this subject for some time now. As I near the end of my pregnancy, I have been gifted many more great examples to include on this topic. No, I won’t necessarily be doling out my own advice. Instead, I’ll discuss the deluge of “advice” (typically unsolicited) that friends, family, and strangers alike start to share with women as soon as they announce their pregnancies. I will preface this by saying that I know most of the comments and suggestions are well-intended.
Pregnancy & Body Image
There is something about seeing a pregnant woman that often triggers what seems like an automatic need to make comments about her growing belly (and body). I will admit, strangers have been relatively tame and kind in making unsolicited comments about my pregnancy, but I do have several friends who have relayed some horrendous comments they’ve received. From people making judgments about them gaining too much weight, mooing at them on public transportation, yelling at them across the parking lot…you get the idea. At no other point in someone’s life would anyone think of making such comments to a woman.
- “You’ve been pregnant FOREVER!” – Why, thank you!
- “You look too small to be “x” number of weeks pregnant” OR “You look like you’re about to POP!” (all within the same day) – Needless to say, I was very confused.
Sleep (or lack thereof)
This is one area where both my husband and I have been inundated with so many warnings: sleep deprivation.
- “Get your sleep in now!”
- “You are going to be SO sleep deprived”
- “Sleep as much as you can!”
We get it. It’s going to be rough. We aren’t going to sleep much. We may feel like we’re in a daze for several months because we haven’t slept well in ages. It almost feels as though this is some sort of hazing ritual that new parents must go through. But no amount of warnings to “sleep now!” are inherently helpful (which I find hilarious by the way – I haven’t slept well in months due to the aches and pains, heartburn, and general uncomfortable state of my rapidly changing body – and because of my restlessness, neither has my husband). We’ve wished for this baby for so long – we know that it’s not going to be glamorous and that we aren’t going to sleep much, but we’re okay with that, it comes with the territory.
The amount of fear mongering that shrouds those who choose to go the “natural” childbirth route has been surprising to me.
- “You are going to give birth without an epidural? I would’ve died without it!” – Not helpful.
- “Wow, I can’t believe you are going to give birth after 39 weeks and not be induced. You are brave!” – I prescribed to the more holistic view that typical gestation for babies is between 37-42 weeks and that babies arrive in their own time.
- “Why wouldn’t you want an epidural or to be induced?” – This is almost certainly a trick question because there isn’t really a great way to answer this without offending someone.
- “You should try (insert any natural labor induction method) – it worked for me!” – More on this in my post for next week.
Women have birthed without medication or interventions for thousands of years. While it may not be the most popular option in our country at this given time, I respect the fact that we, as women, have the power to make decisions regarding how we’d like to birth, without judgement.
I’ve found that moms are particularly passionate when it comes to this subject. While I have solicited advice on several products from like-minded moms, I have received my fair share of unsolicited advice on things that our baby “needs”. My husband and I are minimalists when it comes to the acquisition of “things” – especially when it comes to baby. Babies don’t need much and we’ve tried our best to only acquire what we believe we will use most, and many of the items we have procured, are second hand.
- “Those diapers are the worst! You need to use _____”
- “Why would you use cloth diapers? Disposable diapers are so much more convenient” – Although disposables are more convenient, we’ve chosen to try cloth to reduce the environmental and fiscal impact that accompanies diapering.
- “You absolutely need (insert any number of product, baby toys, gadgets, bouncy seats, etc.)”
For the Future
While I’m happy to offer suggestions (and have offered many throughout my pregnancy journey), I don’t claim to be an expert in any of these areas. I love to research and investigate and if my time doing so helps others, that’s fantastic. Just keep in mind that you ultimately need to do what’s best for you and your child(ren) and if that differs from what your friends and family have suggested, embrace the path you have chosen and know that you are doing the absolute best that you can. Every parent and child is different, so what has worked for me, may not work for you. Trust your instincts and come to an agreement with your significant other as to how you want to raise your child(ren).