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Pregnancy: Coping with unsolicited opinions

It’s inevitable: From the second you share that you’re pregnant, you’re bombarded with unsolicited advice — from in-laws to mom friends to complete strangers, everyone has an opinion.

Pregnant woman with friends

With a few tips and a sense of humor, you’ll be able to navigate nine months of unsolicited opinions, old wives’ tales and even the most absurd advice with your sanity intact!

Doctor blame-game

If you’re overwhelmed with old wives’ tales and aren’t up to listening to a theory about how your baby can steal your beauty if it’s a girl, or you need to dodge a risky morning sickness remedy from a well-meaning grandmother, “My obstetrician says… ” is always a good place to start. When all else fails, blame it on the doctor. It’s an easy out, and it reminds everyone that you do have an expert advising you.

Mum’s the word

If your birthing method, your position on vaccines or other decisions that you’re making for you and your baby are at odds with your in-laws’ opinions, sometimes it’s just better not to engage with them over it. While it’s tempting to try and educate them about why you’re choosing to have a home birth or are opting not to circumcise, consider staying quiet and saving your sanity. If you’re never going to see eye-to-eye on a controversial pregnancy or childbirth topic, it’s better to avoid conflict and keep a few things to yourself.

Stranger intervention

A smile and a nod as you move along, or a simple “interesting” can help you diffuse well-meaning but often-annoying strangers who seem to be drawn to pregnant women like magnets. If you find yourself stuck in a store line with them or can’t easily walk away, try the stranger advice trifecta: smile, nod then distract. Acknowledge them with a quick smile and nod, then hop on the phone, grab a check-stand magazine to read, or quickly find another distraction. If you’re the non-confrontational type, this is a great way to say thanks, but no thanks.

Agree, until the novelty wears off

While most people genuinely feel they’re doing you a service, or simply enjoy reliving their pregnancy experiences by sharing them with you, some people (like men, who’ve never actually been pregnant) love to give advice because it makes them feel like an expert. They’ll take every opportunity to educate you, and the only way to put an end to it is to agree with them until the novelty wears off. When you encounter these advice-givers, try agreeing with, “Yep. You’re absolutely right,” or, “Agreed. My doctor told me that very thing this morning.” If you have nothing new to learn from them, they’ll ultimately move on.

Look but don’t touch

Whether it’s extended family or complete strangers, advice-givers tend to have one thing in common: They often like to get up close and personal while they dish out their opinions. More often than not, that means going straight for a belly rub. Physical contact is one area you might be compelled to draw a hard line on with a knee-jerk, “Don’t touch.” If you’re not the just-say-no type, try a quick block with the hand partnered with, “You don’t want to do that. My morning sickness kicked into high gear today and I’m this close to losing it again.” Then, smile as they suddenly find it in themselves to respect your personal space.

Read more about pregnancy

Affording a baby
What to expect from the 20-week ultrasound
Common prenatal procedures

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