When you're pregnant, everyone from your mother-in-law to strangers on the bus seem super-eager to share totally unasked for advice, opinions, and labor horror stories with you. (Should you really be drinking that/eating that/wearing that/fill-in-the-annoying-blank?) At some point, you'll learn how to smile and nod politely while tuning them out. (Trust us, it's a useful skill.) But there are actually are a few tips that pregnant women really do need to hear—and chances are even your new-mom BFF may not mention them to you. While the following advice still isn't welcome from total strangers (or MILs) keep these things in mind when you're expecting:
No one would dare call out a woman for her wacky pregnancy cravings—hot-dogs and French fries with extra mustard? Go for it! In a well-intentioned effort to not be nosy or offensive, you may hear people telling you to eat whatever you want, keep your tummy happy, and the classic, "You're eating for two now." Except...sorry, but you really should not do this. We're not saying it's easy. The truth is, keeping pregnancy weight gain limited is a challenge for most pregnant women—and being told you can indulge is exactly what makes it harder to resist. But if you eat for two—forgetting, momentarily, that one of you is the size of a Japanese eggplant and definitely does not need a second slice of cheesecake—you'll gain too much weight, which could cause complications for you and your baby, both now and in the future.
People seem to have this urge—nay, need!—to remind pregnant women this is the most beautiful experience imaginable. Bringing life into the world is magnificent, but that doesn't mean pregnancy is all wonderful. There's no doubt what's going on in your body is truly amazing, but it would be nice to get a heads up about just how unpleasant it can actually feel sometimes. Don't think you're a terrible mother already because you can't stand the constant bathroom breaks, aching back muscles, and massive indigestion. Pregnancy is hard on a woman—any woman—and no one really enjoys every minute of it. You can love your unborn baby without loving everything that comes along with growing him for nine months.
We all know that woman who tries to hang on to her "stretchy" clothing for as long as possible before giving in to maternity attire. Who are we kidding? We don't just know her—we've been her. Your closest friends and family want you to feel good about yourself during this body-changing time—which is why they may tell you, incorrectly, that you you totally don't even look pregnant. You are pregnant and you look pregnant—and that's an amazing thing! There's no need to hide it. The fact is, there are plenty of stylish, affordable maternity clothing options available these days, and your expanding belly deserves to look good and feel good. So go for comfort and style and buy some cute maternity clothes before you can't button your too-tight jeans.
There's no sugar coating it—getting your pre-pregnancy body back is no easy task for most people. Pregnant women need to be prepared for the hard work that lies ahead. Telling them they'll bounce right back will only wreak havoc on their self-esteem when they're three months post-baby and nowhere near ready to slide into those skinny jeans again. Tell it like it is, people! And if a woman tells you she didn't have to work at it and the weight just fell off by itself, assume she's either lying or a warlock.
No, you're not a horrible person for secretly thinking belly rubbers should keep their hands to themselves! While it's heartwarming that so many people appreciate the beauty of creating new life, it's just awkward when people you barely know (or don't know at all!) get all touchy-feely with your belly.
Random people will tell you to embrace your new curves and enjoy the miracle growing inside you—but your old (now-way-too-small) jeans and your scale can make it really difficult to "enjoy," as can the normal aches and pains that growing a human being means for your body. As your shape changes, you may start to feel a little uncomfortable, both physically and emotionally, which is totally normal. Even if you look great to everyone else, you may just feel a little off. How could you not? You have a human being growing inside your belly. Newsflash: It's okay to not love your new shape, or the way it's making you feel.
If there's one thing you can expect after delivery, it's an emotional roller coaster ride. Whether it's postpartum depression, the baby blues, not feeling bonded to your baby right away, or just a few days or weeks of feeling out-of-sorts, post-delivery time is rough on everyone. Your body has gone thorough so much in such a short time and it's perfectly normal to experience an array of uncontrollable emotions. A heads up about this would be more helpful advice than hearing yet another person tell you that you're having a girl because they can tell just by looking at you.
While we're on the topic of post-delivery, here's a friendly warning that you'll still look 6 months pregnant in the days after your baby comes out. (Remember Kate Middleton's postpartum pooch? That's a best-case scenario.) Your belly, perhaps once bearing actual, visible abdominal muscles, will feel like raw bread dough. Do not make the mistake of packing non-maternity jeans in your hospital bag. Do understand that the look and feel of your belly will improve with time.
It seems anyone and everyone who has ever had an arduous labor experience feels the need to share their birthing story with expecting mothers. Where are the good stories? Are there any? Yes, yes there are. Some women have good experiences. Some women have mercifully short labors or effective epidurals or just-as-they-planned-it Bradley Method births. Some women do not get vaginal tears and do not spend three hours pushing their babies out. Try not to focus too much on how terrible labor and delivery will be because there's a chance it won't be all that bad at all. But one thing is for sure: No matter what delivery is like or how annoyed you were by all the advice that came your way, feeling your newborn's heart against yours will help you forget all about it.