Dealing with Lots of Unwanted Advice during Pregnancy

“You’re pregnant? That’s great! You know, you shouldn’t be eating that. And try to get some exercise everyday or else those pregnancy pounds will take forever to come off.” How many expectant mothers have heard something similar to this when they first announce their pregnancy? More often than not, sharing our good news with friends, family, coworkers and even strangers seems to invite their unwanted comments and advice. It’s amazing that even people who have never experienced pregnancy or been around a pregnant woman think they know more about your physical state than you do.
Regardless of how you handle all the old wives’ tales, anecdotes and rehashed scientific research that will, no doubt, be presented to you ad nauseaum, many of these people will expect you to follow their advice as though it came from your doctor. Letting them know up front that you have done your own research and have your own plans for your pregnancy is important.

By being informed, you can effectively tell people, “Thanks, but no thanks.” If someone has the gall to argue with your information, inform them that you are updated on the latest and most advanced research. The latest research is constantly changing what we “know” about the human body and health. This is especially important to remember when talking to older women who have grown children. Your mother, grandmother, mother-in-law and aunts all think they can tell you what to do and how to feel because they have been there and because you are younger. Be polite but firm, particularly with these women you will have to continue to deal with after the pregnancy.
As for your doctor, make sure you have done your research before deciding who will care for you and deliver your baby, because not all doctors have the same attitudes about pregnancy and labor. Some doctors won’t let you try to have a vaginal delivery if you’ve previously had a c-section. Some doctors are part of a large practice, and so you may not get to have your doctor deliver your baby if they don’t happen to be on call that night. Make sure that you are comfortable with the way your doctor handles each of these situations. I argued with my OB/GYN because she wanted me to get a flu shot. I have never had a flu shot before, hardly ever get the flu, and I was not comfortable with the ingredients of the shot, so I refused. Because I was informed, I didn’t simply accept this as the only way to proceed with a pregnancy.

There are many ways to have a baby nowadays. Not everyone goes to the hospital, has an epidural and has their baby circumcised. This option is perfectly fine, but it’s not the only way to go. Do you want to go to a birth center? Have a home or water birth? Are you using an OB/GYN or a midwife? How do you feel about circumcision? What about eating and drinking while in labor? Do you want drugs or do you want to go natural? There are logical and deep reasons to make any of these choices.

If the advice is coming from a stranger off the streets and you’re not in the mood for an argument, just nod and smile. It’s not worth the stress of dealing with someone who has nothing better to do with their time than pass out their advice to complete strangers. You have enough to deal with without letting someone else steal your joy.

Making ridiculous statements is sometimes the best way to diffuse the situation. For example, when presented with, “I certainly hope you’re going to have your baby in a hospital. That’s really the only safe way go,” reply, “Oh, I’m going straight to my mother’s house when I feel the slightest twinge of labor. I’m going to have my baby in the same car I was born in!” Remember to smile. This type of response puts them off balance, giving you a chance to move away or making the situation uncomfortable enough that they’ll end the conversation on their own. Besides, you can always apologize after the birth and blame those hormones!