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Dealing with Too Much Advice

It's finally time to share your news, and you do so joyfully. After all, it's more rewarding to tell friends and family about your pregnancy than it would be to hoard your good news to yourself, isn't it?

That's mostly true. Unfortunately, the one thing you may not have anticipated when you started telling friends and coworkers about your pregnancy was the advice overload that would come your way. Now that your belly is showing, everyone wants to manage your pregnancy.

Reaching out to you with advice is a way for people to connect with you and share your pregnancy, usually because they're remembering their own pregnancy experiences. Although their intentions might be good, the sheer volume of advice can leave you feeling buried or insecure.

Unfortunately, a lot of the pregnancy advice you get will be based on tales, misinformation, myths, or pregnancies different from yours. You may be cautioned against raising your arms lest you strangle the baby, told that if you eat carrots your baby's eyesight will be perfect, or informed that you're having a boy because you're "carrying high." You'll be showered with homespun remedies and cultural superstitions and subjected to pressure by friends and family who advise you to have the pregnancies and childbirth experiences they had (or wish they'd had). Some of this advice can be hurtful, especially if it brings up a loaded issue. Your mother may disagree with your decision to return to work, for instance, or your friend might set out on a one-woman crusade to convince you to have an epidural or find out your baby's sex before delivery.

Whatever running commentary you get, bear in mind that it's probably delivered out of love for you and your unborn baby. That doesn't mean you need to take the advice. Whatever you're told, consider the source. You might want to smile politely and move on, or you can enlist an ally if someone is persistent in telling you to do things that conflict with your own ideas and preferences. Say, "My partner and I have decided that I should breastfeed," or "My doctor thinks another ultrasound will help clarify one of my prenatal tests." If someone is particularly meddlesome, she probably just wants to be involved. You might get her off your back by actually soliciting advice about something that matters less to you (like which maternity clothes you should buy) but still makes her feel included. And remember, if someone's advice doesn't sound logical, it probably isn't. When in doubt, ask your provider for confirmation.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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