In my experience, going through life and simply existing as a visibly pregnant woman is often interpreted by strangers as an invitation to chat. Sometimes, these were pleasant chats laced with compliments (pregnant ladies love compliments); other times they were less enjoyable, requiring me to politely smile and subtly grit my teeth. I’ve even heard of mythical, magical scenarios where the mom in question would receive an occasional gem of unsolicited pregnancy and motherhood advice that was actually helpful.
I can’t recall hearing a single nugget of unsolicited advice when I was pregnant, though it’s entirely possible that I’m just blocking it out because, again, my teeth were grinding and I just may not have heard certain people correctly. I try to remember that I really didn't appreciate listening to unsolicited advice, especially when I’m talking to pregnant friends and other new moms. Still, I’ve been unable to hold my tongue because, well, they need to know what I’ve learned, too (the short version: have your breast pump ready and assembled before your baby arrives).
So far, not a single mom has followed up with me to say whether or not this information saved her in her first weeks of motherhood as it would have for me, but I’m just going to assume it did. As it turns out, many other moms do have other examples of unsolicited advice that did help them, which they were kind enough to share:
"Three year ago — while I was trying to control my three little boys in a grocery checkout line — a small elderly woman smiled at me kindly and said, 'People will tell you that these are the best days of your life, but don't believe them.' There is no possible way that that woman can know how much she helped me."
"Master the art of nursing laying down, and you'll actually sleep at night!"
"Don't try to fit back into your pre-preg pants. Even if you lose the weight, your body changes shape."
"Don't sweat the small stuff and try to savor it all, it goes very quickly (annoying but true!)"
"'The baby is OK.' Seriously. This was it for me. When I was freaking out about every little change in her behavior, every little milestone marker she seemed to miss, every oddity, every morning she slept later than usual, etc, this mantra from some experienced mothers soothed me. I would repeat it out loud sometime to calm myself. 'She's OK. She's OK. The baby is OK.'
And then I'd go check to make sure she was still breathing, of course, but it helped."
"A maternity nurse in the hospital saw me nursing my son and, without being asked (and without warning), just kind of grabbed my boob and said 'hold it like a hamburger — he'll latch on easier.' And whaddaya know?! It was so helpful I actually didn't mind the invasion of personal space."
"You can't hold a baby too much! I will never, ever regret rocking and holding them as much as I did and still do (which is a lot, lol)."
"Onesies are made to go down the baby instead of over their head. Boy was that an important piece of information with the breastfeeding blowouts!"
"Take a lot of videos, and take them often. Even if it seems boring at the time, or they aren't doing anything, or it's just 30 seconds. Still pictures are great, but to actually see and hear them; you can't imagine now, but you will forget.
So grateful. I love to watch them."
"Harvey Karp, 'Happiest Baby on the Block' was our bible and made the first three months not as terrible as everyone said they'd be."
"One of the kindest things that happened were several people who gave baby gifts and said, 'Don't you dare write a thank you note.' I always say that when I give a new baby gift now. That tiny thing taken off my mind was a big relief."
"Several people kept saying 'sleep when the baby sleeps.' Everyone hears it. I listened with my second child. It truly makes a difference if you can just sleep when they do, or nap. Heck, a 7 p.m. bedtime isn't bad. When you wake up at 12am, go do a few chores."