Pregnancy can be challenging enough without friends telling us their labor horror stories or how hard life is going to be after the baby arrives.
Whether that friend of yours is dealing with the emotional aspect of becoming a new mama or the aches, pains and nausea that accompany an ever changing body, chances are there's a lot on her mind already.
While I wanted to know everything that could possibly happen to my body, recently, I’ve taken a pretty solid stance on how I feel about sharing anything, from birthing to parenting, with soon to be mamas that don't ask for my advice: I KEEP MY LIPS ZIPPED... unless she asks.
As moms, it isn’t our responsibility to offer unsolicited advice, or tell our horror stories to someone who is in the throws of one of the most vulnerable periods of her life. Now I know that most of the time we're just trying to help or just trying to keep the girl informed, chances are- she's got her own shit. Let her be.
And while I don't believe my tribe to be the type of people who go out of their way to scare an expectant mama, sometimes we unintentionally say things out of humor that can be, well, a little horrifying.
Here are a five tips I think can help us all when it comes to sharing, or rather, oversharing when it comes to labor, delivery, and being a new parent.
Tear it up
If you tore during delivery, don’t talk about the extent of your tear, the degree of your tear, or use the phrase “from stem to stern” at any time when talking to an expectant mama.
While the thought of a vaginal delivery might be no big deal to those of us who have had one, I assure you that the thought of pushing a child out of one's vagina can be a little terrifying for someone who hasn’t yet done so.
And, while your memories of what it was really like have long since faded, leaving only the recollections of a joyous and empowering moment, the unknown for the person on the opposite of your “tear story” is likely terrified (ha, puns).
Instead: Buy your friend a basket with things they might need during the healing process and perhaps, a bottle of wine.
Love and Marriage
Let’s stop telling our friends to spend as much time with their partner as possible because, "As soon as the baby comes it’s all downhill for a while," shall we?
The first weeks can be trying for sure- everyone is tired and overwhelmed. And, alone time is sparse but Blake and I became a stronger unit those months. I believe that if you enter into this period in the frame of mind that you're in it together, you'll likely create a stronger bond.
We mamas take the brunt of the care, but our partners want to be involved. We need to remember that.
Instead: Encourage them to soak up those moments together as new parents. Snuggle in bed together with the baby, lie together while she's nursing, nap together while the baby naps. And, tell her to rely on her partner- ask for help and request what she needs. It’s the best family bonding time ever.
No Sleep Till Brooklyn
Several people told me to get in as much sleep as possible because “Once the baby comes, you won't sleep for a long time.”
From my perspective, a woman who is likely not sleeping well to begin with does not need to hear this crap. And, it's not true. I slept... not consistently... or in long stretches. But, I got naps and a few chunks at night.
Plus, if the soon-to-be mom has every watched a movie with baby, read a book about babies, gone to a parenting class, talked to friends with kids, or EVER TAKEN A BREATH ON THIS PLANET, they know (most) babies don’t sleep well. We don't need to tell them.
Instead: Encourage them to nap and rest when the baby naps. In fact, offer to go to her house and hold the baby while she naps or just relaxes.
Your Body is a Wonderland
So, your breasts now “sag” a little, you no longer have a six-pack, and/or your hips are wider than ever before... please, for the love of god, don't tell her this.
She’s already watching her body morph in ways she might not be comfortable with. So, don't make it worse. Growing a human does stuff to the body- that’s the beauty of the process. It's not bad, it's change. Don't set her up to shame herself after pregnancy.
Instead: Talk to her about how awesome her body is (it made a human!!) or how you feel so much stronger because you gave birth. Tell to focus on taking care of the baby and herself. And, make her a basket of all the self-care items you appreciated postpartum.
Love and Tenderness
Do you remember being pregnant? Likely, you heard all of the things listed above and probably more. For a moment, try to remember it all. All the emotions... all the fears... all the excitement... and, all the unknown.
Now, think of how you would have felt had someone intentionally (or even unintentionally) told you a horror story about birth or early mom-ing. Or remember back to a time when they actually did.
Don't be that mom, it serves no purpose. Instead, offer kindness, compassion and care. Offer to help- and then actually go help.
Be the friend you would want someone else to be and tell them the things you would want to hear. And, if she wants to compare notes after, which she likely will, let her lead.