You probably didn’t realise just how many baby experts they were out there until you announced your pregnancy. Here’s how to get used to the attention and ‘advice’ coming at you
If Kim Kardashian’s maternity wardrobe catches your eye before the latest on the economy in the news, you’re in good company. Celeb pregnancies are big news but this isn’t confined to A-listers.
You announce you’re expecting, and suddenly everyone’s got an opinion on everything from what you have for lunch to the shape of your bump. ‘People think it’s OK to offer advice to mums-to-be because it’s for the baby. But that assumes mother and child have different needs, or that the mum isn’t clued-up,’ says Ellie Lee, director of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies at the University of Kent.
But you’re yourself, and you should be that way in this life stage, too.
Too much scrutiny
‘When friends and family comment on your pregnancy, it’s to do with their interest in your life and is driven by joy,’ says Ellie. ‘However, attention from strangers is another matter. Why should people who don’t know you comment on your health or lifestyle?’
But it’s hard to tell people to mind their own business when it sounds like they’re just looking out for your best interests. Isn’t it?
‘This type of behaviour is invasive. And, what’s worse, it comes at a time when women are feeling out of control of their bodies and their emotions. The assumption that your life is fair game for comment takes yet more control away,’ says clinical psychologist Fiona Starr. ‘While some women love the attention, for others, it causes distress.’
Coping with unwanted attention
‘Be critical about what people tell you, then challenge them,’ says Fiona.
Midwife Zita West recommends having a comeback line ready. ‘If someone’s about to launch into a potentially annoying story, say, “I’m going to stop you there. Please continue with what you were saying if it’s positive. If it’s not, then I don’t want to hear it.”’
Most of all, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. ‘You’re totally within your rights to tell someone that you’re overloaded with advice,’ says Fiona. ‘Tune it out if you don’t want to answer back. Believe in yourself and protect your own boundaries.’
Listen to the supporters
While knowing when to tune out of certain advice is key, tuning in to the right support is important, too.
‘Problems come if you bury your feelings, so the healthy thing is to address your emotions,’ says Fiona. That seemed to be Kim K’s approach, sharing her thoughts on Twitter while getting on with her (OK, not normal) life – flying around the world, wearing her heels and leaning on her family.