I’m nearing the end of my first trimester with my first pregnancy. It’s a beautiful process to sink into — the changes I’m experiencing in my body, the intimacy it’s creating in my marriage, and everything I'm learning about the pregnancy and birth experience.
Of course, there’s also been a lot of unsolicited advice from countless friends, family members, and yes, even strangers.
Once I became pregnant, it seemed like everyone I encountered became an oracle, whether it was a mother sharing her stories or a woman who has never been pregnant divulging all her hypothetical scenarios (along with the tales of her best friends, cousins, and sisters-in-law). You know, all the things you can’t do and need to avoid, lest you and your baby develop mercury poison and he’s born with a unicorn horn.
Please don’t mistake my playful sarcasm for ungratefulness. It takes a village, and I truly welcome the support of my communities to bring an amazing human into the world. I also understand that the advice comes from a deep place of care and sincerity.
Sure, some of it is fear-based, but that’s just the context through which we see the world based on our own experiences. Understanding that is what ultimately keeps me from getting irritated or caught up in the cautionary tales. It also allows me to receive the love underneath it all and reframe the fears in a way that serves and empowers me.
Here are the top four warnings I’ve heard during pregnancy, and how I’m choosing to let go of them:
1. “It’s going to wreck your body.”
“It will never be the same!” is something I often hear. Well, when are we ever the same, from day to day, hour to hour even? We’re always evolving and shifting — and this includes our bodies.
I choose to flip this fear by turning it into an empowering, superhero-like opportunity: It’s going to elevate my body! Things are developing and expanding in this miraculous way. Hey, I even got the boobs I’ve been praying for since middle school! And yes, it will be different after baby. There will probably even be days when my ego gets the better of me and I look at a picture of myself in a bikini pre-baby and cry.
But you know what? I’ve seen many moms who are in healthier and happier shape — physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually — after having children.
2. "Say goodbye to your sex life."
I’m sorry ... what?! When this conversation comes up, I politely smile while consciously putting up an energetic field that prevents any more of this talk from seeping into my space.
Personally, I think sexual activity and its frequency is more so dictated by your emotional well-being, intimacy, and communication with your partner. If I want to have sex more, I will. Less? I won’t beat myself up about it or apologize to my husband.
I see sex as a spiritual practice that cultivates and magnifies creative and life energy. And that doesn’t have to always look like intercourse. So even on the days I don’t feel moved toward that, I’m still intentional on moving that energy around and feeding that intimate and sensual part of myself.
3. "Don’t eat this, don’t do that."
It can feel overwhelming to keep up with all healthy food fads and rules. Now tack on being pregnant and the overwhelming becomes just plain stressful. You responsible for not only your nutrition but another human’s as well. I’ve heard everything from, “Don't eat any fish at all," to "no fresh-squeezed juice," to "no peanuts — you might create an early allergy."
This is another one of those smile-and-nod moments for me. And then afterward I go for a run, do some yoga, and top the day off with some fruits and vegetables. Because that’s what works for me.
My goal isn’t to defy others’ advice and do the opposite to prove a point. It’s to keep my lifestyle consistent and healthy, especially with a baby on the way. I’m not interested in sitting with my feet propped up for months, fearful of anything I do or eat and how it might affect me or my baby.
Pregnancy is not the time to try out new things or make extreme lifestyle changes. I’m just using my awareness of my body to tell me what’s going to serve me during this process. So instead of subscribing to either camp of “don’t eat anything” or “eat whatever you want,” I’m choosing to live in the balance I’m used to.
4. "Childbirth is the most painful experience you'll ever have."
And how is this helpful? I prefer to use selective hearing during these conversations. Harping on the pain is fear-based, and I’m not interested in cultivating fear around this experience, fear that will inevitably transfer to baby.
Pain is one thing, but the relationship to pain is another. We can choose to let it take us into a state of suffering, or we can acknowledge it as a sensation and transmute that into energy that will serve us in childbirth and beyond. So I’ve chosen to flip this fear into the idea that childbirth will be one of the most powerful experiences I will ever have.
At the end of the day, it’s about the bond you’re creating with this little human and the space you’re creating for him to enter the world. Do it in the ways that bring you joy and peace.
And then when you’re faced with those potential fears that others like to dole out, you might just choose the loving inverses of them.