It seems as though the bigger your bump gets, the more unsolicited advice comes your way. While most of the advice preggos get—from everyone from relatives to strangers—is usually well intentioned, it's not always particularly helpful. The same common phrases get sputtered out all day long: "Sleep now, while you still can," and "You're eating for two now." After the millionth time, it can get overwhelmingly annoying!
I know when I had my children, I was very surprised to learn that your child is a total stranger to you. I had been told that my motherly instincts would kick in and I would always know what my baby needed and when. But everyone neglected to mention that that comes with time. Your instincts don't kick in on day one and it's perfectly normal to be completely clueless!
I know I'm not alone on this, so we asked some moms and moms-to-be what advice they really wish they'd gotten during those long nine months. Here's the real deal on the stuff expecting mothers actually do want to hear from those around them.
"I wish people would have been honest with how it really feels to be pregnant," says Tionna Smalls, author and TV personality from Brooklyn, NY. "People always just look so happy and pregnancy is not always a happy thing." While Smalls felt blessed to be pregnant and bring her children into the world, she didn't love the nausea, skin discoloration, extra hair growth, and other not-so-pleasant side effects. "No one told me about how everything is a hassle, from sex to eating!" Women may feel as though there is something wrong with them for not loving every bit of pregnancy but the truth is, pregnancy is tough for lots of women and it's perfectly normal to not love every second of it.
Every mom wants to be the best mom there ever was because that's exactly what her little ones deserve. But no one ever tells you being a great mom doesn't mean you have to get it all done on your own, all the time. Sarah McKinley Adcox of Chattanooga, Tennessee, says this is the type of advice she wishes she'd gotten earlier. She struggled to keep it all together in the first few months after her baby was born, and only after some serious self-doubt did she finally realize the truth: "It's OK to feel like you don't know what you're doing. It's OK to not have it all together. It's OK to ask someone to bring dinner, or hold the baby while you nap, or do some laundry for you." And accepting help—or even asking for it when needed—made all the difference. "If you don't take time to care for yourself, you'll never be able to care for your family the way that you want," she says. "As basic as it seems, it's a really difficult concept for lots of moms, myself included, to abide by on a consistent basis."
When you've reached the stage in pregnancy where you can no longer avoid maternity clothes, suffice it to say your bump is hard to miss. And all anyone can ever talk to you about is pregnancy, babies, and parenting. "I had one friend—also a mom, though her kids are older—who deliberately went out of her way to ask me about anything else," says Jamie Helmick of Las Vegas, NV. Whether it was about TV, the news, or even new shoes, Helmick just appreciated the change in topic of discussion from time to time. "It was so nice to just be able to talk about something else for a change, just to remember for a minute that I do have another worthwhile identity besides 'mom'."
While breastfeeding is a natural form of nutrition, it isn't always second nature. It can be rough in the beginning as both mother and child adjust. A lot of women can feel pretty upset—sometimes even with themselves—if breastfeeding turns out to be tougher than expected. "I wish someone would have told me how hard and painful breastfeeding would be on the nipples—even when the latch is correct—and not to give up," says Jennifer Huzl-Recine of Tampa, Florida. With her first baby, she supplemented with formula. The second time around, she toughed it out and learned things get better. The assumption is that what's natural is easy, and that's not always the case.
It is not at all uncommon for new mothers to experience the baby blues to a certain extent after a baby is born. The hormones are off the map. That coupled with a lack of sleep and a fussy newborn can make for one emotional roller-coaster ride. A little heads up would not be a bad idea. "The first two months are rough," says Alexandra Monti of Laval, Canada. "And no one tells you that." It can be even more emotionally overwhelming when it's unexpected. A little advice on what the baby blues are, or where to seek help for it, as well as other post-delivery conditions, like postpartum depression, is not only helpful, but can be life-saving. The family of Allison Goldstein, a young mother from Chesterfield, Virginia, who recently took her own life after a secret battle with PPD, is taking to the media to get that very advice out there. All new mothers need to know they can and should mention it to their doctor if they feel they may be suffering from PPD.
Mothers and expecting mothers don't want the sugar-coated version of life that makes for more pleasant conversation. They want the real deal. Rosella Parretta, a mother of two from Montreal, Canada, wishes someone had taken a break from all the useless baby banter to tell her that having a baby can and will take a toll on your relationship. While this is a totally normal part of having children, a little advice on how to deal would be a little more useful than hearing "You look just about ready to pop!" yet another time today.
"Many people forget to prepare expectant mothers for delivery. Tell the truth," says Ashley Donald. The Trinidad and Tobago resident wishes people wouldn't hide it, but rather open up about their experiences. Delivery can be scary, risky, and painful, but no matter how rough it is, it most definitely is totally and completely worth it. While no one wants to hear complaints about the painful labor you endured, some realistic advice about how to deal with childbirth could go a long way.