When I announced that I was pregnant, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the advice and the questions that I received from not only my friends and family, but random people. My absolute fave thing was unsolicited advice on pregnancy and labour from people who had never been pregnant. Yes, please impart all of your wisdom on how I should birth my child, person who has never lived it.
On one hand, there was of loads of well intentioned and thoughtful advice that was incredibly helpful and valued. On the other hand, some of the advice felt more like intimidation or accusations instead of being well meaning. For example, a certain acquaintance lowered their voice and narrowed their eyes at me before saying:
“You aren’t going to let them give you any drugs during labour are you? Because, you know that hurts your baby. And, you wouldn’t want to hurt your baby….. Would you?”
I remember being absolutely lost for words. Of course I didn’t want to hurt my baby but I also disagreed 1000% with this persons statement (as anyone with common sense would). With regards to labour, I had always said that I would be pro whatever I needed at that time. If I could do it without drugs, great. If I needed drugs, great. Having never experienced this before, I certainly wasn’t in a position to go around announcing how I would ‘handle’ it.
For the most part, the sane part of me knew that the advice I was being given was coming from a good place and from people who cared enough to offer it. However, the rest of the time, crazy me wasn’t always entirely successful in this endeavour. If I was given what I considered to be outrageous advice, I tried the old smile and nod technique. Although some people required verbal confirmation that I had not only heard them but that I would take their advice on board. Yikes.
Now, I’ve always been a fairly opinionated individual who would voice my opinion rather freely on a variety of topics. To be honest, I was judgey and mouthy. However, in these instances I found myself virtually unable to respond and thank the person for their input but saying I didn’t necessarily agree. I’ll thank my super spesh pregnancy hormones for this. Those suckers were to blame for my complete inability to even contemplate entering into a disagreement, because I knew that this would bring on the waterworks. Once the w-works suckers started, it was sometimes nearly impossible to turn them off. So I usually said… nothing. I would of course come home and tell my husband about all the crazy things people had said to me. I would think of fantastic responses and retorts that I planned to provide the next time I was hit with that particular question/advice. To his credit, my husband would (usually) patiently listen while I ranted on and on. He would then respond by telling me not to worry about it and that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Sometimes his logical and common sense perspective really annoys me.
Now let’s move on to the questions, oh the questions. So many questions. All of the questions. Constantly.
The question I was asked more often than any other, was if I planned to breastfeed my baby when he/she was born. Surprisingly enough, the culprits were usually people I barely knew. Because who doesn’t to talk about their breasts with someone they barely know?! On one particular day, after being asked this by a person I had met a few times at uni a decade or so prior, I must have had a confused look on my face. She quickly jumped in and said, “It’s the best that you can do for your baby and you need to do what’s best for your baby.” I continued to stand there in a daze while she went on to tell me how selfish people are who don’t breastfeed their babies. A couple of times, I attempted to interject and offer that it is a personal choice and that there are also people who aren’t able to feed for whatever reason. She just kept on going as if I hadn’t said anything. Oh the joy!
By the end of my pregnancy, my response to the majority of advice and questions was a very honest – “Thanks. I will just do the best that I can and try and try to make the right choice at that time. Hopefully it will be okay”. There were of course days here and there that I would not be so graceful but I’m proud to say that other days I absolutely nailed it.)!