You may receive some great advice, and you may spend quite a lot of the pregnancy fairly convinced that everyone else in the world is insane. Whatever you hear during pregnancy, take everything with a pinch of salt (including your chocolate-drizzled pickles if a craving should take you).
When you already have a young child or a couple of kids, people may express wonder at you having another. Other even ruder examples include, ‘Don’t you have a TV?’ or ‘Not figured out what’s doing it yet?’ Good replies include, ‘Yes, triplets this time!’ or ‘Well, I need the child benefit’.
Discussion of your bump size is par for the course. Comparing you to other pregnant people/asking if you’re sure there is only one in there/checking if you are sure of your dates…. it’s all a symptom of people knowing more than you about pregnancy, even if the pregnancy in question is yours. This is an occasion when you should smile and nod and then completely forget all about it. If your medical team are happy with your size, then you should be too.
Even worse than people expecting you to have a preference for your baby’s sex is when they commiserate with you; ‘Aw, another girl? Oh well, you can always try again’. Even if you do have a preference, this has to be one of the most frustrating (and rude) things someone can say to you. Tell them you’re having one of each, or announce cheerfully that even if it’s a boy you will dress them entirely in pink dresses.
This is just one example of the sort of ridiculous superstitions that people try to inflict on you. Other funny examples include not wearing a necklace as it could tangle the umbilical cord, avoiding honey in case the baby gets stuck, heartburn being a sign of a full head of hair; if you really feel like this sort of nonsense deserves a response, then laugh it off or nod sagely and watch their face when you tell them you just walked under a ladder with a black cat.
The only people who can tell you what to eat or not eat when pregnant are the people taking care of you medically. So whether you eat nuts, soft cheese or nothing but lettuce and ketchup, if it’s ok by your medical team then don’t let your gran’s next door neighbour’s cousin tell you otherwise. You simply don’t need to ‘eat for two’, there’s no need to ‘drink milk to make milk’ and if ginger doesn’t work for your morning sickness then you are quite within your rights to throw it at the next person who suggests it.
The pregnancy expert who did everything perfectly and carried her perfect family into her perfect home with a perfect smile on her perfectly made-up face will never admit that pregnancy can be tough. Whether you have a medical problem or a craving for fast food, they will always have done it better than you are. Never ever enter into a game of one-upmanship with them, you can’t win! Just smile and nod and if you really must get passive aggressive, praise their motherly perfection and treat yourself to another slice of cake.
You might want the entire world to rub your belly, or you might have a selected few people who you can just about bear to give the bump a squeeze. Unwanted attention from strangers can be one of the strangest experiences of pregnancy. It is one of the great pregnancy mysteries why complete strangers feel entitled to touch you. The best response is to either jump away with a look of pain and horror, or rub their belly back and watch them realise how inappropriate they are being.
Baby sex predictions can be fun, or they can be ridiculous. Some people pride themselves on their ability to guess based on the shape of your bump, the size of your bum, the foods you crave, the state of your skin, the shoes you prefer, the way you walk, the length of time you sleep; in fact, almost everything about your pregnancy will give someone an idea of what you are having. The problem is, even the most clueless guesser has a 50% success rate, so again, smile and nod.
There are some people who take great pleasure in telling you horror stories. Tell these people you are pregnant and they immediately tell you how many stitches they needed, or what awful thing happened to their neighbour’s baby, or some terrible story they read recently. These people may not mean to upset you, but they often do. If you can’t smile and nod, then cut and run. Make your excuses to end the anecdote and move on.
Whoever you encounter and whatever they tell you, remember not to let anyone control your feelings. You have a medical team for proper advice and a support network for emotional support, so what a random stranger has to say shouldn’t really matter.
Learn to smile and nod, hone your sarcastic reflexes or use your compromised bladder control to escape to the bathroom; then remember what not to say when you encounter your next pregnant person!