A pregnancy is such an exciting time, full of hopes and questions. It's also an exciting time for the people around you, and sometimes that enthusiasm can come out in the wrong way. Well-meaning friends and loved ones (and even strangers in the grocery store) sometimes say things that are irritating, scary, or just plain wrong. I've even had a family member say, "Wow you are looking really huge!", and a friend say "You look exhausted!". Even if they have the best of intentions, some comments simply aren't helpful. At all.
Here are some of the things pregnant moms really don't want to hear.
1. Sit down! You have to rest! The idea that pregnancy means a woman needs to put her feet up and rest her way through gestation is antiquated. Hello...we're preggo, not injured. It's good to move! Unless there's a health problem, doctors advise staying active throughout pregnancy. It's positive for the health of the baby and the mom. It also helps reduce stress, improves sleep, and strengthens women for the work of labor. Even in the third trimester, exercise is encouraged.
2. You're so big! You're so tiny! For some reason, basic tenants of common courtesy get forgotten when speaking to a pregnant woman. Don't comment on someone else's body. Period. It can make people feel anxious and embarrassed. It makes mom to be ask questions. Am I too big, what could be wrong? Am I too small, what could be wrong? Pregnancy affects women very differently so there is no rule to size. Besides, it's really none of your business.
3. Are you going to go into labor right NOW? Labor almost never starts dramatically like they show on TV. It's unlikely you are going to gush out a waterfall and then the baby will start crowning in minutes. Like really? It's a methodical process, so don't treat women like being in the third trimester makes them ticking time bombs.
4. Let me tell you this birth horror story. Lots of women love to tell their birth stories. This can be an excellent way for women to share their experience and give encouragement and information. For some people, though, it's an opportunity to drag out the very worst scenario they've ever heard of. Be aware if you're soon to be mom is going to want to hear all about it. Since there's no way to predict how labor is going to progress, it's not really helpful to talk about the worst possibilities. Pregnant moms should focus on their own unique birth plan, and soak up the beautiful stories their friends have to share.
5. Second child? This one will give you trouble! For some reason, lots of people believe that a sweet-tempered first child is always followed by a challenging second child. Babies really haven't heard that theory, though. Each child is a unique individual, and the only way to know what their temperament is going to be is to meet them.
6. Breastfeeding is so hard! A mom who struggled with breastfeeding might have unresolved feelings about it, and these may come out as negative statements. Sometimes breastfeeding is challenging, with a steep learning curve. People have been doing it for millennia, though, so it probably isn't impossible. Moms who are planning to breastfeed might want to seek out other breastfeeding moms and get their input. Good online sources have lots of information on breastfeeding, as well as practical tips on what to wear for breastfeeding, and how to nurse in public. Most people will say that once breastfeeding is established, it's actually a relaxed, pain free, and simple act with myriad benefits.
7. Pumping at work is too difficult. Lots of women decide that it's worth it to pump breastmilk at work. There's more legal protection than ever for women who want to keep breastfeeding. With information and a plan in place, it's absolutely, no doubt about it, doable. Don't get discouraged hearing it from others.
8. Well, breastfeeding will ruin your breasts. Remember #2 above? What other occasion invites people to comment on others' breasts? Regardless, doctors are pretty sure that it's not breastfeeding that causes some women's breasts to sag, but pregnancy itself. The way a woman's body responds to weaning is actually fascinating.
and just to add...you might have heard, "Say goodbye to your Social Life!" Hmmm, okay Debbie Downers...BYE! Who's to say you won't be able to still do the things you love? Sure, getting outside with your newborn will bring up challenges and being able to spontaneously hang out with your girls may come far and few between. However, many parents find ways to travel, eat out at nice restaurants, and still get together with pals when time allows. It's all about balance, and if you intend on keeping in touch with those people in your life, you probably will make it happen. Truth is, those that understand parenthood is life changing will still stick around and be happy to take advantage of those moments when you call to say, "Hey, come over and let's have some wine!". Wine not?
If you're a pregnant mom who is tired of hearing statements like these, take heart. People usually don't mean any harm; they just don't always realize how their words come across. Try not to let it bother you, and keep your eyes on the future. Your experience is unique and your very own. Stereotypes, assumptions, and plans can go out the door when it comes to the phases of motherhood. It will be your very own journey.
Keep going mama! You're doing great!