The only thing worse than the plethora of unsolicited advice that you get while you're pregnant, is the equally unwarranted "When I was pregnant. . ." tales. You know, the ones that you never asked for and that even virtual strangers feel the need to fill your ears with. That's not to say that these stories aren't well intentioned, because they likely are. But too often, they come with the TMI factor and leave you knowing just a tad bit too much about your mother-in-law's first labor and your mail carrier's narrow vagina.
Unfortunately, you'll be hearing these horror stories right up until you give birth and develop your own story to tell. Which you will, someday. There is just something about a newly pregnant women that brings out the need in everyone else to suddenly bring a spotlight on themselves and their own birth stories.
At the time, the eager stories you're faced with will seem rather outrageous, vulgar even. You never thought you'd hear that much about Aunt Francine's constipation, did you? But trust me, as you ease into motherhood, you too will come to have your own stories and someday look back on those from everyone else and almost welcome the memory. Almost.
Still, while you are pregnant, you have every right to mentally turn up your nose at some of the makeshift "advice" thrown at you through fellow mothers' war stories.
7 "I hope you don't tear as badly as I did."
Health class undoubtedly taught you all about the dangers of unprotected sex. You were even taught how to identify different species of STDs. You were not, however, informed about the possible perineal tear while giving birth. As in, a tear in the area between your vagina and rectum. Otherwise known as your perineum.
Lucky for you, you have at least one fellow mama with loose lips who readily goes on - in detail, mind you - about her own personal experience with a long perineal tear. This is quite possibly one of the most undesired birth stories of them all, because really, who doesn't get a scary and graphic visual when they hear of these tears?
Not every woman tears, so just tell her It's TMI
And it doesn't help any when the person telling the story is ever so quick to give all of the gory details. Unfortunately, two thirds of births result in a tear of the perineum, making them a bit more common than you might have thought before.
But while sometimes a perineal tear is unavoidable, you can do things to try to prevent it from happening. Try to focus on your breathing more than your pushing. All too often, the hard pushing is all we think about, resulting in the unpleasant situation. You can also incorporate pelvic exercises in your workout to prepare for birth. Sure, maybe it won't always prevent the tearing, but if it does, it will also prevent you from becoming the "I hope you don't tear as badly as I did" woman.
6 "My first was stubborn, but my second just slid right out."
Again, another visual you could have done without, right? You could be hearing this story from a glamorous actress or model and it would still make you cringe. Not many pregnant women like to think of the slippery birth of another woman.
But again, such a story surely isn't done in malice. Maybe it is even a story to make you hopeful for the future. If this is your first pregnancy and it does turn out to include a difficulty birthing process, perhaps you will indeed be so lucky as to have an insanely simple second birth.
Birth and pregnancy are individual experiences, even in the pregnancies one woman will experience
On the other hand, it may say nothing of your future births at all and could just be another uninvited birth story that includes details that you would just rather do without. Even if such a thing comes from a good place and second births are known to be typically easier than the first ones.
That doesn't mean you have to like hearing this from your sister's mouth though, as she follows it up with details like "you should have seen him!" or "he came out like a bullet!" That is just too much information, dear sister.
5 "I didn't go back to work - I bet you won't either."
Every mother has every right to choose what she wants to do after the baby arrives. Some may choose to return to work a few weeks after, diving right back into her routine. Others may take an extended leave, opting to recoup at home for a good six months or so. And some mothers, who may have once been rather career-driven, may suddenly decide that motherhood is what they were really meant for and become full-time stay at home moms.
Regardless of whatever you have in mind now, you are completely allowed to change your mind later on. After all, who knows how you feel once you finally look into the deep blue eyes of your new little peanut? But for the know-it-all mom who assumes that every other mom will turn out to feel the same as she, well that is just plain ignorant.
You can just nod your head and ignore her, or tell her that everyone's different
And you should know - you're hearing some of the most ignorant claims and stories as your pregnancy progresses. When she almost tells you what you're going to choose to do after giving birth - is she a psychic now, too?! - it becomes something more than recalling her own choices. It becomes an annoying way of her justifying her own choices as the only right ones.
But just like every pregnancy is different, so is every birth and so is every mom. That being said, Miss "I didn’t go back to work" is totally valid in her own choice. Not so much in the glaring assumption that you simply must do the same.
4 "Don't be afraid if you feel the incision like I did."
We're all for helpful anecdotes from fellow mamas, but when they are of the terrifying variety, we tend to shy away. Who needs a birthing horror story when you are already undoubtedly worried about pretty much everything else? Nevertheless, you have surely been accosted by someone only too eager to let you know how scary their emergency caesarian section procedure as and now the epidural did nothing for them. And, even more scary still, how it "almost paralyzed" them!
Once again, do your best to let such "advice" roll of your shoulders. The fact is, one third of pregnancies result in a C-Section delivery, making it such a common procedure that you can usually be rest assured that you're in plenty capable hands.
It's easy to be plenty afraid though when someone starts a sentence with "Don't be afraid. . ." The words following are almost guaranteed to make you worry and then some. Try not to let that get to you though, as the procedure itself goes so quickly that you'll be holding your baby before your doctor can say, "Let's cut the cord."
3 "I was much smaller than you when I was that far along."
Oh yeah? Great. Good for you. You probably farted butterflies too and only ate natural organic foods the entire time. If one or more of those responses flash through your mind when you hear sentences like that, then you are most certainly not alone. Having a formerly pregnant woman say anything about your present size is mostly a blow to your ego, no matter how you look at it.
Of course your belly is big, there is an entire human being growing inside of there! And sure, maybe your feet are a little swollen, but what perfect pregnant woman out there isn’t a victim of water retention? Really, if you are all skin and bones, you aren't giving into enough of those wacky food cravings, so just like when you're not pregnant, embrace those few extra pounds and embrace those awesome curves.
When faced with this pleasant type of woman, feel free to reply with a likewise witty comment like, "Yep I must have swallowed a beach ball" or, "You're so right. I must be giving birth any day now!" Okay, so maybe it isn't the most eloquent way to respond, but if you can be flippant about it, then you can move past such comments that were plenty unwarranted to begin with.
2 "I couldn't poop for six days!"
Really, random waitress, serving our table for lunch? Is it really such an important part of your pregnancy story that you just had to tell us about it now? Though six days is admittedly a totally insane amount of time to go without, well, going. Constipation is a very real pregnancy side effect, and an ordeal on all its own when you aren’t even carrying a wee little one.
Add that to the nightly carpel tunnel, uncontrollable gas and acid reflux and you’ve got a pregnancy cocktail of unpleasantness. But, never fear. If you end up as one of these unlucky ladies with nearly a week of no poop, there is hope. Your best bet is to rely heavily on fruits and veggies that are high in natural fiber. Well, pretty much anything that contains a substantial amount of fiber will aid you in beating this very real issue.
Even so, that certainly doesn’t take the image out of your mind of your bubbly server hunched over a toilet with a huge belly and no results. Probably something you could do without before you start on that lunch, eh?
1 "Yeah, I thought I was going to do it natural, too."
Now, this sentence would be totally okay and forgivable if it wasn’t followed by the requisite scoff from the speaker. There is nothing wrong with your innocent desire to go through childbirth as drug-free as possible. That's why the whole epidural option is just that - an option. And it's not your fault that someone else who'd planned a similar birth had to backtrack and make a new plan, for whatever reason.
Maybe it involved complications, or perhaps the pain from the beginnings of birth were too much to bear. Either way, hearing that from a fellow mama is never easy. It may not fall into the charming category of TMI or just unnecessary, but it does classify as one of the more plain old catty, unhelpful tales from someone who should, by all accounts, be totally on your side.
Birth plans can go out the window that's part and parcel of childbirth
As prospective mommies, we have a heavy burden to carry. There is the worry of whether or not the baby will be big enough, or too big rather. Will she have colic? Will he pee straight up into my face? Will my water break in the middle of the grocery store? Will my water break on its own at all?
Without having to worry about all of that, we shouldn’t have the sometimes scare tactic-like stories from other moms to worry us even more throughout out pregnancies.
The important thing to remember is to simply let it roll off your shoulders. Remember that, at the end of the day, your birthing choices are your own and you will make your own decisions when the time comes. As for those poop and slime stories? Yeah, we can't help you there.