AAAAH! You’re pregnant! This is amazing and wonderful and also OMG brace yourself because you’re about to get absolutely flooded with advice. Some will be good, some will be garbage, and a significant portion of it will come from people who have good intentions, but lack tact/common sense/the understanding that discussing your cervix while waiting in line for coffee IS NOT COOL. Here’s a smattering of the most common things people will tell you, with a more realistic option consider.
How to Handle First Time Pregnancy Advice:
What they say: Don’t Google.
More realistic option: Google with care.
OF COURSE you’re going to Google. We all did, and some of us traumatized ourselves discovering what exactly a 4th degree tear involves. While the internet is filled with scary stuff that probably won’t happen to you, it also has all kinds of goodness that can help you get through this, too. Google with care, take what you read with a grain of salt, and when in doubt, ask your healthcare provider.
What they say: Don’t eat for two.
More realistic option: Think about what you’re eating, but don’t obsess because your body is going to do what it’s going to do.
For whatever reason, people feel like it’s okay to A) comment on how much weight you’ve gained/should gain/shouldn’t gain, and B) ask you how much you’ve gained. While this obsession with weight gain likely stems from a good place (hey, we all want a healthy pregnancy, right?), it doesn’t take into account how some people naturally gain more or less weight than what the BabyCenter weight gain calculator spits out. I gained over 60 pounds with my first, and it was SO STRESSFUL. Two babies later, I now know I’m a person who packs on the pounds while pregnant, regardless of what I eat/don’t eat or how much I exercise.
What they say: OH MY GOD DON’T...
(fill in the blank with some inane advice about avoiding microwaves, cell phones, high-heels, raising your hands above your head…)
More realistic option: Find a balance between being aware of your pregnant state, and not letting it freak you out.
Yes, you’re pregnant, and there are things you should absolutely avoid (think: windsurfing in a lightning storm, chugging DRAIN-O, and/or getting into a slapping match with a rabid raccoon), but we have a tendency to wrongly believe we are in complete control over how our pregnancy goes. Truth is, much of the time (for better or worse) that isn’t the case. Terrible things happen to wonderful people who did everything right. This sucks and is unfair on so many levels, but it also takes the pressure off if you ate a salad with Caesar dressing, and are now considering a visit to the ER to get tested for salmonella.
What they say: OH MY GOD, YOU HAVE TO...
(fill in the blank with whatever they did)
More realistic option: Do. What. Makes. You. Comfortable.
Go to a doctor, go to a midwife, use a doula, call a shaman, rely on your partner, rely on your sister, rely on your dog, be alone, dance, sing, yell, cuss, listen to Led Zeppelin, listen to Chopin, use a tub, use a hospital bed, take all the drugs, take none of the drugs, do all of these things, do none of these things. There are a million different combinations of ways to navigate the waters of pregnancy and childbirth safely. Find one that makes you as comfortable as possible and own it, sister.
What they say: Fill up your sleep bank.
More realistic option: If you can get extra rest, do, but if you can’t, don’t stress.
In a perfect world, every pregnant woman could spend hours of the day curled up with a body pillow getting her horizontal life pause on, but in reality, many of us have shit to do! Whether it’s working, going to school, or even squeezing every last drop out of your pre-baby life, this time can be busy. Listening to your body, and getting extra sleep is a great idea if it works, but no matter how much sleep you “bank” unless you have a night nurse, those first few weeks (or months, or even years for some) are brutal.
What they say: Don’t tell anyone until after your first trimester.
More realistic option: Tell people whenever you damn well please.
Telling people early on gives you the chance to have that same group of people support you if things don’t work out as planned, but ultimately this is an extremely personal decision, with no right or wrong way to do it.
What they say: Trust your gut
More realistic option: Trust your gut, but find a caretaker who you also trust.
The first time around (and the second, and the third) can be SO INCREDIBLY CHALLENGING when it comes to wondering if everything is normal. While you should always listen to that little voice in the back of your head, you should also find someone you trust to help you determine if the voice in the back of your head is possibly sounding the alarm mistakenly.
What they say: buy ALL THE THINGS.
More realistic option: Get whatever you think will be helpful.
Babies don’t need much. They really don’t. We live in a glorious age of Amazon Prime and 24 hour Walmarts so if you realize you need something else, you can have it sent to you without even having to put your boob away. That said, if you want to get a wipe warmer or your aunt is willing to buy the automated baby robot shusher (please someone make this a thing) then go for it. There are a lot of “must have” lists and “essential” round ups that have been curated by PR people and baby companies that want you to buy their baby thing so take them all with a grain of salt.
What they say: Write a birth plan.
More realistic option: Get comfortable with a variety of outcomes when it comes to having your baby.
There is absolutely something to be said for setting your intention and getting the job done, but as they say, sometimes even the best-laid plans shit the bed. Familiarizing yourself with different outcomes, and mentally preparing yourself (as best you can) for things going nutty is a smart move, just in case you end up in some sort of Freaky Friday situation, delivering your babe in the most opposite way possible of what you thought you’d do.
So what does it all mean?
You are about to be buried under an avalanche of advice. Some of it will work for you, and some of it will make you laugh (or rage-cry, depending on your mood and blood sugar levels). Pick and choose what works for you, and let the rest of it go. Although every decision you’re making right now feels monstrously huge, in a few years you’ll have the perspective to understand that regardless of the brand of prenatals you chose, your baby is here and is the most intelligent, charming and wonderful thing to ever grace this earth. It ain’t easy, but you’re going to do just fine, mama.
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