As unbelievable as this may sound, no two words (aside from, “I do!”) will have as much of an impact on your life as, “I’m pregnant.” Your life is about to change in so many ways that you will quickly forget what life was like prior to having a child.
This especially holds true for women who are having their first child. Aside from the excitement, there are fears, concerns, questions, curiosities, and some life-changing decisions to be made. And, through no fault of your own, you will be bombarded with many questions, pieces of advice and opinions from everyone you know—and even from people you don’t know!
Most women (and some men) cannot help but offer you their two cents’ worth when it comes to your pregnancy. So what should you do with all this unsolicited advice and opinions? Welcome to your first test as a mother—practicing patience and understanding.
Welcome to the sisterhood
Your mom, aunt, sister, cousin, best friend, client, customer and neighbor will no doubt have something to say when it comes to your first-time pregnancy. It could be as simple as where to get the best maternity tops, what are the best pregnancy skincare products to use, or the offer of their old maternity dresses. You will hear a lot about their cravings, their aches, their pains, their labor and delivery, and even some stories that fall under the heading of Too Much Information. Everyone has something to say and you will definitely hear about it, whether you like it or not.
Understand that when a woman is pregnant—especially for the first time—it takes other women back and get them thinking about their own first pregnancy. Women remember what it was like for them and what they experienced, so their immediate instinct is to share what they know with you, and yes, that will include advice on what to wear, which are the best maternity dresses and pants, and where you can get them.
It’s as if you entered a secret society that is no longer secret to you. Now you get all the wisdom and knowledge that you didn’t need prior to becoming pregnant. And guess what? Even after you give birth, the wisdom, knowledge, opinions and advice will still be coming, but in even greater amounts as you enter the world of motherhood.
How to deal with unsolicited advice
You have two choices when it comes to all of this unsolicited advice. You can either ignore it or take it for what it is—women sharing their experiences and trying to help you by letting you know that when it comes to pregnancy, almost nothing is as it usually is. That’s right: your senses change, your body changes, you feel different, look different, act differently and think differently. And while no two women ever go through pregnancy with the exact same symptoms and side effects, it is nice to be reminded that what you are going through is normal—something that most women probably wished they were told when they were pregnant for the first time. As many books and articles as you may read about pregnancy, they still will not cover everything, and that can make a first-timer feel scared or uncertain as to whether what you are experiencing is normal or not.
On occasion you will get an opinion or advice from someone that is completely misguided or inappropriate. Unfortunately, you cannot filter out those with nothing of importance to offer from those who have something useful to say. Yes, there will be women who will share their death-defying tale of how they delivered their baby, or how painful and long their labor was. You will hear stories of morning sickness that lasted through all three trimesters, or how the family dog had to stay with a relative because the smell of dog food was too much to bear. What you need to remember is that these are individual stories (some slightly exaggerated), but they are not an indication that you will suffer the same malady.
When it comes to pregnancy and the advice you will receive—whether you ask for it or not—you don’t have to worry about following it, or that the same bad circumstances will happen to you. Your pregnancy will be your own, unique experience with good times and maybe some not-so-good times. However, the one common thread that all mothers have is bringing a new life into the world. And that is definitely something you will want to share with women who you one day encounter during their first pregnancy.