By Sara Skiles
How to Handle Unsolicited Pregnancy Advice
There is something about pregnancy – and the presence of your emerging baby bump - that suddenly makes the public feel entitled to advise, criticize, and in some cases, even touch you without permission. We know you want to keep being a kind and respectful person, and while many of these situations are with nice old ladies at the supermarket and therefore not a huge deal, at some point you may start wondering just how to deal with unwanted pregnancy advice without biting someone's head off or standing there in awkward silence. Here are some suggestions for warding off pregnancy advice tactfully and while keeping all of your relationships in good condition.
The Nod and Smile
The Nod and Smile is an ideal move to pull on random strangers while out and about town. Keep it in your back pocket for when standing in lines, exercising, or dining out. Deploy this short and sweet response when you are summarily informed that you look like you're about to have triplets, or that you simply must be having a girl because you're “carrying high”, or that that venti cappucino had better not be for you. If you're feeling particularly nice, you could add “thanks for the tip!” This response will usually satisfy a stranger and keep them from following you or adding any more delightful tidbits.
The Grandma Knows Best
If you have well-meaning elders in your family, this move will work to your advantage. Your grandmother, great-aunt, or other relative may be very well-meaning, but not understand today's recommendations as far as car seat safety, breastfeeding, childcare, and other potentially hot topics. Put out the fires before they get a chance to blaze up by acknowledging the wisdom they have gained from years of life experience and parenting their own kids (and then continuing to do your thing). If you feel the need to clarify further, especially if any of these friends or relatives will be providing any babysitting for your little one, sometimes it's a good idea to print out reputably-sourced articles showing current research and best practices for the topic you're at odds over.
The Sassy Pants
Sometimes you wonder how certain questions caught on. And everybody asks the same ones. “Is he a good baby?” “Are they all yours?” “Are you sure it's not twins?” “Don't you know what causes that?” Rude! While I never recommend lashing out or returning rudeness for rudeness, if you've got your sassy pants on today I've got a few nice one-liners for you.
- No, he's a terrible baby.
- No, I found this one in the parking lot and thought, why not?
- No, it's burritos.
- “We thought we knew, but it couldn't be or we'd have a lot more kids than this...”
The Blame it on the Doctor
This is the big guns you pull out when all other methods fail. You see, where your coworker or relative or random stranger might not trust you to know what's best for your pregnancy, we live in a culture where A Doctor's Advice is very much trusted and lived by – especially among older generations. “Thanks for sharing – we'll definitely bring that up with the pediatrician!” can work wonders, as well as “thanks for the tip, but our doctor actually told us that giving whiskey to a teething baby is no longer advised!” Some parents with overbearing loved ones have even gone so far as to get their doctor to write a note on their particular issue.
Balancing your sanity as an expectant parent and the relationships all around you can be tricky to navigate, but by taking a deep breath and giving it a little thought you will be able to respond gracefully and hopefully even ward off any future situations. And never fear: in a few short months the pregnancy advice will all be over (and the infant care advice can begin!).
Sara Skiles is a certified doula, childbirth educator, and the owner of Wichita Doula and The Wichita Baby Company. As a mom of two, she is passionate about educating new parents about pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum recovery experience. She can usually be found coaching couples through labor, taking the night shift at a new parent's house so they can catch up on sleep, or sharing her love of Wichita with her young sons.