I’m 18 weeks pregnant, which is still rather surprising to me. I lived in such a low self esteem state for years that I never believed I would be doing any of these normal, real life things like have a wonderful career or a loving husband and baby on the way. But today I firmly know that I am worthy of love and it is a gift to be able to share that with others-including my giddy baby on the way! Yes, there is joy here but there also some fear and questioning. Why, exactly? Because I’ve received some pregnancy threats/’advice’ in my short journey so far.
My everyday life hasn’t changed much since finding out I was pregnant but my human interactions definitely have. I am so much more popular now! Talk about weird. I’ve never been the cool one, but I may be one to watch. What will I do next?! Well, apparently, offend people. Which is not really my bag as I typically stray away from confrontation.
But I guess people hear the term ‘pregnancy threat’ and get a little irritated. I posted what I thought to be an innocent investigative question on social media ‘Moms and moms to be: Have you ever received a pregnancy threat?’ So what does that mean exactly?
Pregnancy Threat: noun. Unwarranted advice about pregnancy, giving birth and/or caring for a newborn. Typically given without inquiry to subject’s personal pregnancy experience just the passing on of their own pregnancy/motherhood stories. Often granted in a sharing, ‘I’ve been there too, gurl’ spirit but can be misconstrued as self serving or negative because of the general lack of awareness from the voluntary consultant.
Some people thought they were the offenders. Others gave their ‘advice’, totally missing the point of the request. And many volunteered the ‘advice’/threats that they had been privy to – unwarranted birth plans and stories, formula vs breastfeeding debate, sleeping situation, etc.
The reason I’ve been wanting to write about this is because there is already a huge, scary stigma around birth in general. Why would anyone want to create or reignite those inklings of fear/pain without questioning or prior knowledge of the pregnant person? I am doing my best to honest within my mindset. With the carrying of the child, creating a birth plan and the thought of actually giving birth to the kid. That is A LOT to take in. Oh, and did I mention the hormonal changes, weak immune system, unpaid maternity leave and the fact that all of my cute yoga pants are more snug than ever!
My point is that pregnant women already have plenty to worry about it. Why add to it? UNLESS you know the pregnant person very well, have had in depth conversations (including appropriate questions) about their pregnancy, and are aware of what their doctor is advising don’t add in your two cents. Be a human being and get to know her, create a real connection and then maybe, MAYBE share your stories when you feel like it’s appropriate.
Your personal pregnancy story should not be your greeting but a nice addition later on in a conversation/relationship.
Sharing is caring, and one person (thanks Jenn!) on my social media post smartly pointed out that sharing one’s experiences is a form of connection. I wholeheartedly agree with this but am still going with my gut and aforementioned advice to tread lightly. True connection breeds from asking questions, observing body language and curious listening. Not spouting opinions with little to zero knowledge of the other person. At any point a pregnant woman could have had a questionable result from a blood test, be tip-toeing through her first full term pregnancy or be worried about the financial ramifications of procreating.
Let’s flip the switch on this:
If moms are offering me unsolicited pregnancy advice does that mean, as a fitness professional, that I could go up to any overweight person and tell them to lose weight to live a longer, healthier life?
Seems wrong, doesn’t it? Because it is, plus a total violation of privacy and devoid of social graces. How do I know they haven’t already lost fifty pounds? Or have a disease that makes losing weight very difficult? Perhaps they are a recovering from an eating disorder and have finally started eating real food again.
I wouldn’t just start up a conversation about the dangers of obesity with someone who may seem like they needed help by sight alone. Not unless someone asked me specifically for advice or if through conversation we ended up on the subject.
Okay, so back to the ‘advice’/threats. Here’s how I will break them down:
-The real life ‘advice’/threats mostly offered from people I don’t know very well and/or who didn’t ask any questions beforehand.
-The reaction in my head/sometimes in actual response (not always)!
-How the token ‘advice’/threat giver could have corrected their info for the sake of everyone’s sanity.
‘You better sleep all you can now BECAUSE YOU WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN!!!’ (insert maniacal laugh here)
My Reaction: Hmmm…I had NO IDEA! Sensing the sarcasm?! This really hit home with me a few years ago when reading Amy Pohler’s funny memoir ‘Yes Please’. She said even working crazy hours while on Saturday Night Live didn’t prepare her for the insane sleep schedule of a new mom. Message received. Apparently it’s hard and at least for a while unavoidable. Can’t wait??
Corrected ‘Advice’/Threat: ‘Have you researched sleep training? It can be a lifesaver and the book __________________ really helped my husband and I.’
‘Don’t over do it with exercise while pregnant, actually you should stop altogether or just do XYZ‘
My Reaction: The exercise comments have been the most shocking. A lot of the advice I’ve received has seemed very specific from individuals with injuries/high risk pregnancy/little to no fitness base. Descriptors that do not match my pregnancy journey at this point. All I’ve been able to say to this one is…’gee, thanks?’.
Corrected ‘Advice’/Threat: How does it feel to keep up your current teaching schedule and workout routine while pregnant? I know you have a an active lifestyle!’
‘I don’t care if you christen the baby in a ________ church.’
My Reaction: Thank you for your concern but that is my husband and I’s choice. It’s something I’ve been praying a lot about as we are still trying to find a church home that suits us best.
Corrected ‘Advice’/Threat: ‘Do you plan on raising the child in a ______ or ______ church/religion?’ (this is still so personal, right?!)
‘You have to do an all natural, vaginal birth to truly connect with your baby.’
My Reaction: Yikes. This is SO controversial, and still something I’m researching. I’ve asked good friends and family about their birth stories and have listened to awesome podcasts that highlight beautiful, positive birthing experiences. As of right now I’m convinced that I can have a successful birth with or without an epidural, with a natural or cesarean birth plan or in an Uber. Just because it worked for you or your great aunt once removed doesn’t mean its best for me!
Corrected ‘Advice’/Threat: ‘Have you decided on a birth plan? There are so many options available!’
‘You have to breastfeed your child or he/she won’t be a CEO/rocket scientist/famous actor one day!’
(okay I embellished on that wording a little bit haha)
My Reaction: I think women have to be living under a rock to not know the amazing benefits of breast feeding. I know. Mr. Giddy knows. Even my unborn child knows how amazing breastfeeding is (she is listening)! I will do everything I can to give my life affirming milk to the giddy baby but I also know that anything can happen. I’m researching back up plans just to be safe.
Corrected ‘Advice’/Threat: ‘Are you considering breast feeding? If so I have to recommend the __________________ system and it really helped me pump when I had a filled schedule.’
‘I bet you can’t wait to drink a glass of wine again.’
My Reaction: Why are wine and motherhood so closely linked in modern society? All of the huge ‘mommy’s juice’ glasses and insipid graphic tees-oh brother! Guess what – not everyone turns to alcohol for relief or even ENJOYS wine! I think this is such an easy, lame connection to make. Different strokes for different folks.
Corrected ‘Advice’/Threat: ‘Is there anything you’ve given up during pregnancy that you look forward to consuming again after the baby comes?’
‘It is unfair to only have one child. There is too much responsibility forced onto them to take care of you when you’re older.’
My Reaction: I know my personal life plan doesn’t always match God’s plan for my life but as of right now we wish to only have one child. Anything you say will not change my mind. Especially with that positive attitude!
Corrected ‘Advice’/Threat: ‘Any thoughts on expanding the family more after this bundle of joy arrives?’ (still this is so much pressure to put on someone – especially a first time mom)
You may have noticed that all of the ‘Advice’/Threat Corrections were not statements but QUESTIONS! Go figure. Inquiring your fellow ‘WOman’ really is the best way to learn and grow. So….if you find yourself wanting to give pregnancy advice please ask yourself the following questions first:
- Do I know this person well enough to discuss their unborn child?
- Is this a helpful question and not a biased statement/self serving personal story?
- Would I have really wanted someone to ask ME this question when pregnant?
Just as I received mixed reviews with my social media inquiry I know that may also be the case with this blogpost. But, that’s okay. This is my website, not yours! As always, I believe in what I write, and hope that this point of view helps moms and future moms think about if their advice is coming from an appropriate place. At first I thought this was a little off topic from my typical personal development posts but when I reread it I saw it was right on track. Self awareness and healthy communication are cornerstones of a confident woman, which is what I bring out in others through life coaching, fitness/yoga and public speaking.
And even if people continue to give unwarranted advice…cough threats….I know this:
I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. -Psalm 16:8, 11
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