12 Bits Of "Advice" Every Pregnant Woman Dreads Hearing

"Rest up while you still can!" "Enjoy every minute of your pregnancy, because you're going to miss it!" "Just relax! Everything will be OK!" Stuff like this just falls out of people's mouths the moment they see a pregnant woman. It's like a reflex or something; people apparently can't help themselves, even though these are all bits of "advice" every pregnant woman dreads hearing.

Now, most of the folks saying this stuff probably mean well, particularly if they're parents themselves and it’s been a while since they had their babies. Over time, people's happiness and love for our kids tends to outshine their memories of how hard pregnancy and childbirth can be, and nostalgia for the adorable, tiny past seriously distorts folks' perceptions of pregnancy. Even now, barely two years after my most recent pregnancy, I find myself getting so excited and even mildly jealous of pregnant moms, and I hated being pregnant. I liked giving birth better than pregnancy, yet even I have to actively remind myself of all the crappy parts of pregnancy so I can think of something useful to say to my pregnant friends, and stop myself from turning into a blathering belly-rubber when faced with an expecting mom.

Then, of course, there are the people who have never birthed a baby, but have heard all manner of random pregnancy myths and weird pregnancy sayings from other people, and who feel compelled to say this kind of stuff because they've observed that these are just "things you say" to pregnant ladies. Apparently, a lot of people forget that you can talk to pregnant women about other things that have nothing to do with pregnancy or babies, because pregnant women are still people who have entire lives' worth of interests that don't revolve around gestation. (You don't have to strain to make awkward small talk about baby stuff if that's not your thing, folks! There's a whole world of other conversation topics out there that won't make you sound like a total weirdo, or irritate pregnant strangers, acquaintances, and friends.)

On the plus side, even if you don't currently have the energy to do much else, at least your facial muscles are getting a workout, mama. So many side-eyes and bemused grins and grimaces are bound to pay off, right?

“Get All The Sleep You Can Now. You Won’t Get Much Once The Baby Comes!”

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Did my midwives just forget to give me the sleep piggy bank all the other pregnant ladies got in order to save all the sleep we're supposed to withdraw postpartum? How is this “sleep now because you can’t later” thing supposed to work, anyway?

Fun fact: it’s actually kinda hard to sleep when you have to pee every other minute, and you’re significantly bigger than you normally are, can’t necessarily sleep in your preferred position, and have a person doing kicks and barrel rolls in the middle of your body. (Not for nothing, but I actually found I slept better after giving birth, especially once I figured out how to nurse laying down and was able to keep my pre-mobile baby asleep for longer stretches of time without waking myself up.)

“Well, Get Used To [Every Annoying Thing You’re Now Experiencing]!”

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Whether it’s not sleeping, or being worried all the time, or feeling physically uncomfortable, according to some folks you just have to "get used to it!" and consider your misery to be nothing more than a training exercise for parenthood. Something else I guess you just have to get used to: people rubbing your nose in whatever life circumstances suck for you right now.

“Enjoy Every Minute!”

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Non-/never-pregnant people: let me assure you that the pregnant women in your lives are enjoying as many of their pregnant minutes as they can. But many of those other minutes feature heartburn, aches and pains, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting (to say nothing of more serious pregnancy complications or anxiety about potential or diagnosed birth complications). None of that is particularly enjoyable. Maybe just let her know that you’re happy for her, and that you're here to help however you can, instead.

“You Should Definitely Get The Drugs When You Give Birth”

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Yeah, not everyone wants to do that. Some of us prefer to have unmedicated births, because we're more comfortable that way. And no, we haven't spent the last few decades of our lives under a rock, and we're totally aware that drugs during birth are a thing that are available to us, and don't need to hear whatever horror story you have saved up, that usually follows this suggestions.

“You Should Definitely Go ‘All Natural’ When You Give Birth”

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No. Some folks need medical interventions in order to birth safely, and other folks want chemical pain relief while they push a whole human out of their body. Their birth plan is their business.  

“Don’t Eat/Do Too Much [Blank]! It Causes [Some Unproven And Unlikely Disaster]”

"Wait, what? Did my doctor or midwife drink Polyjuice Potion and take on the appearance of this random person now giving me unsolicited medical advice?"

Yeah, probably not. Stop trying to scare pregnant ladies, weirdo.

“You Should Exercise/Not Eat Too Much/Eat This Particular Thing So You Get Your Body Back Faster”

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Yeah, no. People should eat whatever they need to eat and move in whatever ways make them feel good because that's a good idea for their health. But this whole postpartum "get your body back ASAP" trope is a giant sexist mess, so let's not even go there.

“Just Relax!”

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When has that statement ever had the intended effect on a person?

Exactly.

“Do [This Weird Thing] To Prepare For Birth/Motherhood”

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No, random extended family member. Pregnant women don't have to eat or drink anything special to bring on or shorten labor, or "toughen up" their nipples to breastfeed, or any other strange, uncomfortable thing in order to successfully have and raise a baby. If we did, the actual professionals we pay to guide us through these experiences would probably tell us about them.

"You Should Use This To Avoid Stretch Marks!"

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Unless "this" is a time machine that will send her back in time to be born to parents whose genes help people not get stretch marks when their skin is stretched, whatever product is being suggested is probably not going to do anything. But, you know, thanks for letting her know that you think the stretch marks she may already have (or be destined to get) are gross. That's super helpful for her self-esteem.

"You Should Get Rid Of Your Pet"

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Unless you know for a fact that a pregnant mom's dog eats kids, or their cat has like, a history of smothering babies (as opposed to a suspicion based on an old wives' tale), don't tell a pregnant woman to get rid of a beloved pet. Chances are, she's smart enough not to leave a pet near her baby's crib at night, and wouldn't keep an animal who shows genuine aggression toward her child once they're born.

“Enjoy [Your Whole Life, Basically] While You Can!”

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Yes, thanks for suggesting that mothers are totally unable to do anything fun (like enjoy themselves with adults or have time alone with their partners) or personally meaningful (like traveling or working on important career projects). Fortunately for moms who can't manage to finish their bucket list or cram a lifetime's worth of accomplishments into their remaining weeks of gestation, we actually still have the rest of our lives to do all that stuff. Turns out, it's entirely possible to do other stuff besides take care of children when you're a mom.