When a woman is pregnant, there are some universal experiences - strangers want to pat their tummies. Acquaintances want to tell intimate and horrifying details of their or others' births. People want to tell them how everything is going to be unbearably bad or unbelievably perfect once she becomes a mother. It's always over the top, highly dubious stories or advice, and it's up to each expectant mother to filter out that stuff which is ridiculous or unreliable, something that can be difficult with no experience to rely on whatsoever.
Unfortunately, some of the worst offenders are those closest to the pregnant woman, such as her own mother, grandmother or sisters. In those cases it's even harder to distill truth from fiction, because they are family and typically considered by the woman to be good mothers. So why wouldn't they know what they are talking about? Perhaps it's an unconscious act, reenacting some type of birth ritual where women tell tall-tales to either freak out or pacify expectant mothers in preparation for their child's arrival. At any rate, hearing lies is a regular part of a woman's pregnancy, and it's up to her to learn what is reliable and what is beyond truth.
15 You're Glowing!
Ah, it's great to hear you look lovely, even when you have puffy feet that you no longer can see, you belch like an industrial smokestack and you've grown a third to fourth chin. It's nice for people to look at your oily skin, caused by excessive pregnancy hormones which also results in those lovely blackheads and acne bumps and call it a glow. For those who normally struggle with bad skin, the hormones may actually help your skin imbalances and clear complexions. However, for those who typically have blemish-free complexions, the glow of pregnancy may include all manner of bumps and blotches. However, if someone insists on such a nice lie, it's probably OK to just accept the compliment at face value (pardon the pun) and move on. Or maybe you can ask for a tissue to blot the excess "glow." It's all temporary, anyway; once going through birth and those hormones settle back into normal, skin will resume it's normal appearance.
14 I Can Hardly Tell!
When I was pregnant with my first child, I couldn't wait to wear maternity clothing. The reason? I didn't want anyone to think I had let myself go, and was merely gaining weight and getting sloppy. Silly, I know! However, with my second child I wasn't too concerned. And when people looked me right in the eye when I was approaching mid-pregnancy and said, "I can hardly tell you're pregnant!" I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. After all, they were likely only trying to make me feel good; something I could manage to appreciate on some level. However, another way of looking at the comment is to wonder if it's a backhanded compliment. After all, if by seven months you can't tell I'm pregnant with my second child (which shows more than a first and sooner) then are you saying I'm so overweight it's tough to tell if that's a baby bulge or just a big old bulge?
13 Birth Is Easy
Not unlike the argument about breastfeeding being easy and natural, we are all here from the common experience of birth. So how hard can it be? We all know plenty of, let's face it, idiots who have reproduced so really how difficult can it be? Well, it's not like getting into medical school, or passing the bar, but giving birth isn't what many honest people would describe as "easy." It is natural, of course. But there are plenty of things in nature that are hard things to endure.
It is true that by preparing mentally and physically for birth, a woman can make her experience a far better one. If she exercises, eats healthy and gains weight at a reasonable pace, she will be more physically fit to endure what will likely be her equivalent of a marathon. (For those of us who will never run an actual marathon, ever.) If she learns what is to be expected, she won't be caught off guard and freak out. Freaking out increases a person's pain level, and beyond that, the memory will be colored by that fear, as well. Birth is no simple walk in the park for most. It's unfair and untrue to tell expectant mothers to expect an easy birth.
12 Childbirth Is The Worst Pain In the World
I will probably make a number of women angry in telling this, but keep in mind, this is my personal opinion based on my experiences, and the experiences of other mothers I've known. Childbirth can be painful. It may be more than mere discomfort. I have horrid cramps monthly, so most of labor seemed not that much beyond what I've endured for years. The difference was that during labor, I didn't have medication to ease the intense cramping. Also, the end of labor ramps up considerably for most of us. However, if a woman is prepared, works with and not against her body, and doesn't give into fear, her experience will be far less painful, barring any certain medical complications such as an oversized baby, a breech birth or the like.
I had the odd experience of having an allergic reaction to the material I was stitched with after my first baby, and then the stitches (and there were many, as it was a big episiotomy) ripped out. I had to wait for the wound to heal from the inside out, and couldn't sit down for 2 months. That was far more painful than labor. So was, believe it or not, when I got a corneal tear from my second baby's little fingernail. So no, I don't think every childbirth trumps any type of pain. Call me a traitor if you will.
11 I Have The Best Cure For Morning Sickness
One of the most favorite pieces of advice people foist upon pregnant women is how they know the best, most simple and little-known cure for morning sickness. They used it. Their daughters used it, and it never fails. It may involve common, and possibly somewhat-scary household items, or it may be rare and hard to get a hold of, but whatever the substance, it's sure to stop bouts of nausea, vomiting and queasiness with ease. It's amazing though, that as long as we've been having babies, there's been no one individual cure all for morning sickness any more than there is one simple cure all for the common cold. There are some good remedies out there that will work for some, but not all, pregnant women. And unfortunately, there are some pregnant women who no matter what they try, end up with such horrid cases of morning sickness they must be hospitalized and given IV fluids, as was the case with Kate Middleton when carrying the future royal heirs.
10 Having A Boy Or Girl
Few things inspire as many myths and conjecture than the gender of a baby a woman is carrying. Older women will put hands on hips and sagely announce the sex of a baby, based on things as scientific as whether the pregnant woman's baby bump is high up, or she's carrying low. Or maybe they decide based on whether the woman is craving sweets or sour tastes. Some women profess they know because of a prophetic dream, although these are most likely to be relatives who spring this one on you. Truth is, even an ultrasound can be an unreliable testing instrument to determine baby's sex. Plenty of babies arrive each year with a nursery decked out in decidedly non-gender neutral decor to gape-mouthed parents, and doctors. Only an amniocentesis is error-proof in foretelling baby's gender, so short of that, always have a back up plan and never should a pregnant woman totally rely on any other predictors.
9 Pregnant Women Are Sexy
Some may bristle at the notion that this could be a lie. But let's be serious. Anyone who in general finds all women who are pregnant sexy is well... odd. It's definitely great when a man who is in love with his partner and the mother of his unborn child still desires her and is aroused by this temporary version of her. Let's contemplate what a pregnant version of a woman is. She is swollen in totally different ways and places, leaking milk or urine possibly, and is a gas machine at either end. She is moody, uncomfortable and sometimes anxious, alternating with times of peaceful, beatific joy at motherhood.
In other words, to a typical man, a bit on the unbalanced and icky side. Now make it undeniable that she is not just his mate and his woman anymore; she is becoming a mother. Mother is the most unsexy concept to a man, of course. Because up until now, the only mother in his life really was his mother and now his wife or partner is in that camp. It's.... unsettling at times. It's not that he doesn't understand, but if your man became what can only be described as possessed at times, and had his build totally redistributed, while having gastrointestinal issues like he never had in his life, how hot would you be for him? Honestly?
8 Most Beautiful During Pregnancy
This is sweet deception, we should all hope. After all, pregnancy lasts just several months per child. So what are we the rest of the time? Mediocrity? No, it is a beautiful time in a woman's life, but that doesn't necessarily truly translate to her being her most beautiful while waddling through the world, hiccuping and hormonal. So why do so many people insist on perpetuating this lie? To make us feel good? Maybe. Or perhaps because of lovely memories of their own or their wife's own pregnancy. We may confuse the beauty of a new life with the beauty of the bearer of that life. Now, I'm not saying we should walk around with bags over our head, or wear sacks because we can't be attractive and pregnant. But I personally don't believe I was most beautiful during my pregnancies. I was just doing the most beautiful, wonderful job of my life while pregnant, is all.
7 This Awful Thing Happened To My Sister's Best Friend's Cousin In Childbirth
Why do some people love to tell you the most horrendous, horrific stories about a birth to someone who has never given birth, but is nearing this momentous event? Is it a sort of sadistic pleasure that these folks feed off of when seeing the fear in the hearer's eyes? First of all, most of these stories are unreliable at best and one must question the motivation behind such tales. If it happens to touch a nerve and scare the expectant mother, she should relax and tell herself it probably isn't true, and if it is, it's probably a rare and bizarre happening, along the lines of drowning and being electrocuted while delivering a thesis defense. The pregnant woman should just freeze a smile on her face while internally singing all the verses of her favorite song, and zoning out once she heard the first gory detail.
6 Babies Aren't That Expensive
Some people just want to be positive and encouraging. That has to be some people's motivation in selling the lie that babies are not going to cost you all that much money. There is nothing in the world that will be as draining on anyone's finances as children. Period. According to 2015 numbers from the US Department of Agriculture, the average family will spend $245,000 raising a child to age 18. That amount does not include college tuition, by the way. So if nearly a quarter of a million sounds like small potatoes to you, then no, raising a child is not that expensive. But if you belong to the world most of us reside in, yes, that's a whole bunch of dough! Of course, there are some pretty broad variables depending on how you raise said child, but even taking that into consideration that costs are going to be high and they will definitely impact your life and lifestyle for decades to come. Or even more. Keep in mind more kids of adult age are still in the nest, or back for a return visit, than ever before in history due to economic hardships or soft parenting, depending on whom you ask. Kids are money siphons!
5 Breastfeeding Is Easy; It's Natural!
As mammals, providing milk for our young is a defining characteristic of our species. Cows do it. Horses do it. Sheep and tigers and bears all do it. So if an animal, a wild animal or domesticated one, can nurse its young, why in the world would it be anything but natural for us humans? Go figure, but it sure isn't the automatic process some would have you believe. First of all, it does and will hurt most likely, at least initially. You won't instinctively know exactly what to do. Now, the baby will have some primal instincts to aid her, such as that rooting reflex. Nature helps by making your nipples darker and more prominent, and therefore more easy to find and latch onto.
But if you've never nursed a baby, never witnessed at close range, a baby breastfeeding you won't know if baby is latching on correctly, getting enough milk or anything of the sort. You need women who have done it to guide you at first. Do I nurse on one side for one nursing, and then switch for the next, or do I do both breasts at each feeding? Is baby gaining enough weight? Why are my nipples hurting? Is it that they are chapped, baby isn't on right or that I have mastitis? It has a learning curve, but mentors will tell you, it's all worth it.
4 You Can Keep The Same Lifestyle After Baby Arrives
I love this lie. It's so deliciously ridiculous, it's entertaining to listen to as it's being woven together. You can keep going to the coffeehouse on every Tuesday night for open mic night; just breastfeed and get baby earplugs. You can keep your all-white furniture and train your jealous Rottweiler. You need not dump your sports car; the child seat fits in the tiny backseat just fine. You can host the weekly poker nights and go winter camping off-road. Having a baby doesn't mean having to grow up, does it? Of course, not! We can be cool and be parents. Right! Just like your parents did, right? Oh, I lost you there, eh?
You don't have to morph into the Cleavers overnight when you have a baby, but you will never be exactly the same people and you will definitely not maintain the exact same lifestyle post-baby. Some people hold onto this lie for an uncomfortable amount of time, and it's painful watching them fight against the tide. Being a parent changes a person, and a changed person lives an altered lifestyle.
3 Going Into Labor Tonight
These are the lies all pregnant women clamp onto for dear life. I've never met an expectant mother who wishes to stay pregnant indefinitely. At the end, she clings to every possible sign of impending labor. You have diarrhea? That's the beginning of labor. Well, possibly. It can be a sign, or it could be your Aunt Edna's macaroni salad set out too long. You started putting away the baby clothes in the nursery? You must be nesting, so labor is imminent. Or maybe you have insomnia and are not the worst procrastinator in the world. You dropped, or experienced lightening. Well, that is a sign that things are moving towards birth but in no way foretells just how soon; hours or a couple weeks.
You have increased Braxton Hicks contractions, had a dream or are leaking milk like a dripping faucet. All parts of the end of pregnancy for many moms-to-be. However, there's no clock attached to any specific symptom. Women do lose their mucus plug as labor approaches, but how closely the labor will follow is truly anyone's guess. So when a pregnant women is told she is about to go into labor, she should take the word with a "hope you're right," fingers-crossed optimism only.
2 I Have The Best Midwife/Ob-Gyn/Pediatrician
When people find something that's hard to find and be satisfied with, they either gloat and keep their source secret or are determined to spread the gospel to the world. Such is the case with favorite birth practitioners or pediatricians. It's almost a cult-like status with some patients, mind you. They will sit in smirky sisterhood, touting the virtues of the doctor, all the while clucking how they wish they hadn't stopped taking new patients, because he or she is the absolute best.
The truth is that one person's best is another person's quack or off-putting unprofessional. Certainly, if a friend or relative has an in with a midwife or doctor you've heard specific good things about, inquire about if they have openings for new patients. Then check them out. But don't fret over closed patient lists, or covet your sister-in-law's ob-gyn without knowing the real deal. What may meet your sister-in-law's needs may well be annoying or creepy to you.
1 Bounce Right Back After Birth
I was 30 years old when I gave birth to my first child. I started out pregnancy underweight and gained exactly the recommended amount of weight during my pregnancy. This is a pretty good set up for leaving the hospital feeling upbeat about shedding baby pounds. It might have been had I not have shared a room with a teen mother who literally left the hospital less than 24 hours after giving birth, slipping back into a pair of size 4 jeans. If I had felt better, I might have tripped her as she left. Let's stop photoshopping and lying with angles, and corsets and drastic diets. Growing a baby and giving birth are major undertakings for humans. It took several months to do it all, and to undo it all, at least the undoing that is possible, will take months as well, if done safely and sanely.
So while celebrities may convince you how easily they just popped back into their old bodies, just know (or believe it based on nothing more than hope in humanity and karma) that they have money, surgeons, trainers and cooks and they are paid... yes, paid, to look the way the do. That IS their job. Your job is likely something less fluffy and more realistic. All new moms should give themselves and each other a break, and be real about the return to the new normal.