The Struggle is Real

An open letter to anyone who tried to give me advice when I was pregnant

Dear Everyone Who Tried To Give Me Advice When I Was Pregnant,

There were so many of you giving me advice when I was pregnant for the first time. It was impossible to know what to listen to. Some of it scared me. Some of it seemed like good advice. Some of it confused me because I just couldn’t understand what the situation would be. And at the same time, the more I’d hear, the more I’d start to think “That won’t be me.”

As if I’m better than that.

But now that I’ve gone through it – twice – and lived to tell the tale, I have to say that most of the advice totally missed the mark. So thank you for trying to warn me, advise me and prepare me, but here’s where it all went wrong:

1. Thanks for telling me to sleep when they sleep – and to get as much sleep as possible while I was pregnant.

But why didn’t you suggest I soak it all in with pregnancy number one, because nobody would be indulging me ever again once the baby was born. 

2. I love that you told me “Breast is Best” and that I should really breastfeed because ‘choosing’ not to breastfeed is selfish.

But why didn’t you warn me how HARD breastfeeding is, how I should read up on the difficulties, on how to improve milk production or control over-production and be prepared to speak to a lactation consultant, not be hard on myself if I couldn’t do it.

And mastitis… You couldn’t have warned me about mastitis and blocked ducts???

3. Your stories about labour? They freaked me out! Telling me not to worry because it was all worth it? Not helpful. And you – the one who described her labour as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” – you know who you are.

But why didn’t you reassure me that it doesn’t have to be that way. I found pre-natal yoga. I had a teacher who gave hypno-birthng tips. I have an amazing husband who kept me laughing through labour. And I had an epidural when I needed it. 

4. We talked a lot about pregnancy. I read a lot about pregnancy. I’m a pro at being pregnant.

But pregnancy is fleeting – when the muppet came, I no longer had time (or the mental capacity) to read much. You could have told me that I should probably read up to prepare for the first 6 months. And poop – you should have given me a book on poop and what poop colour/shape/size/frequency means. I spent too much time trying to figure out the poop.

5. You asked me if I’d babywear, co-sleep, circumsise, do baby-led weaning, breastfeed, cloth diaper and more. We hit all the hot-button topics and you gave me your take.

But why didn’t you tell me to thicken my skin, pick what’s best for my baby, have confidence in my decision and not worry about the other mothers judging me? The lactivists, intactivists and the sanctimommies I’d inevitably come across? I was NOT prepared for that kind of confrontation. 

A few other gripes – why didn’t you ever warn me about:

  • All the mucous that would flow like a river
  • The huge diaper pads that I’d be wearing after delivery. And those mesh panties!
  • The pain my breasts would experience as they changed to prep for milk production
  • The postpartum crazies – I was a complete wreck that first week, of course I was! all of my hormones were in rollercoaster mode as they switched to being non-pregnancy hormones
  • The back pain
  • The belly button itch and the line
  • The mucous – I really can’t stress that one enough. I never knew a body could do that!
  • The membrane sweep – wow that hurt!
  • The pregnancy mask – why does skin do that?

And what have I missed?

First-time mommies will always need some advice, and I have only one piece of advice I ever share: Don’t take advice from anyone. Ask your doula/doctor/midwife if you want to know something, be prepared to tell people you don’t want their advice, and trust in your instincts. You’ll be fine.