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An Overload of Advice During Pregnancy

Find tips on dealing with unwelcome pregnancy advice from your mother, your mother-in-law, and your friends.
Dealing with Unwelcome Pregnancy Advice

An Overload of Advice During Pregnancy

Daddy Alert!

You might have to choose sides if your mother and your partner get into ongoing debates over the best way to get through a pregnancy. Although your mom means well, somebody (like you) might have to run interference if her advice is persistently upsetting your partner.

After you put on maternity clothes, pregnancy experts will start coming out of the woodwork. Everywhere you go, people will have advice about what you should and shouldn't do.

Perhaps much of the advice will come from your mother or mother-in-law. This is a playing field where you need to know the rules if you ever hope to come out the winner. These women's genes are floating around in your womb, so they might feel divinely entitled to tell you how to nourish and protect their progeny. (Warning: This belief grows even stronger after the birth of the baby.) On the one hand, they have a point. Their lineage is invested in the outcome of your pregnancy and they speak from experience. They've been through this themselves and have done a pretty good job, judging by you and your partner. They have experiences to share and helpful tidbits to pass on that might actually make this pregnancy easier for you. So take advantage whenever you can.

If your mom insists that you rest on the weekend and let her come over and do your laundry—don't fight it. Sure, you're not sick and there's no reason you can't do your own laundry, but if it makes your mom feel involved and needed when she helps you, why not? When she gives advice, don't get yourself stressed out by arguing or contradicting. Just say "Thanks." Many things have changed since she gave birth, and her intentions are good. You can let it go in one ear and out the other with no stops along the way if you like, but a simple smile and a nod of appreciation will save your family many unnecessary battles. And don't forget that there is always the possibility that in this case, your mother and your mother-in-law really do know more than you.

More advice might come from your friends. Co-workers, neighbors, lifelong friends, and even vague acquaintances will all have words of wisdom to share. Some might hover over you as if you've just turned into a delicate piece of glassware that will break at the slightest jostle or bump. Others will scold you about not exercising enough and will nag you to join classes, programs, gyms, and spas. Some will push all sorts of exotic diets, herbs, and supplements your way. And a surprising number will insist on recounting all the horrors of their own experiences with childbirth (in gory detail).

Daddy Alert!

You won't escape the advice mongers either. Everyone you work with will have something to say about your partner's pregnancy. They know how to handle her moods, her fears, and her medical difficulties. Smile, nod, but for heaven's sake don't repeat a word of it to your partner—unless it's something like "She looks wonderful!"

This is a good time to learn how to sort out the gems from the fakes. If you have women friends that you've known a long time, whom you trust, and who have gone through their own pregnancies, look to them for support. Ask their opinions and share your experiences. A woman you feel close to and who has been through the same experience in recent years makes a great sounding board. But to handle all your other "friends" you'll need to develop a deaf ear. If you find yourself listening to tales that scare or upset you, don't hesitate to interrupt. Simply say, "Please don't tell me that story. I'd really rather not hear it." If you have concerns and questions, find out the facts from reputable sources. Do your own research by reading books and magazines, and save important questions to ask your doctor.

Another batch of advice will come from complete strangers. Being noticeably pregnant makes you fair game for every person on the face of the earth who has something to say. You'll be asked questions in the supermarket and on street corners that will make you wonder about the sanity of the human race: "Did you plan to have this baby or was it a surprise?" "How much weight have you gained?" "Will you have natural childbirth?" These questions will be followed by far-fetched stories of pregnancy and childbirth—along with unwanted advice. When this happens, try not to take offense. Even when strangers suddenly reach out and rub your tummy, try to keep cool. If the questions and advice of strangers bothers you, the easiest way to escape is to look at your watch, exclaim that you're late, and hurry away. If someone corners you (say on a bus or on the checkout line), quickly turn the attention away from yourself and ask the stranger questions such as, "Do you have children? How many do you have? What are their ages?" and so on until you can make a getaway.

You are now a walking magnet that attracts know-it-all people. Out of nowhere, they'll swarm to tell you what you should and shouldn't be doing. Don't let this onslaught of advice overwhelm you. Choose a few trusted people to be your confidants and turn a deaf ear to the rest.

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