Being pregnant brings with it a range of challenges – from feeling uncomfortable to being sick to not knowing what to expect.
During these times, it’s important to communicate with the people closest to you and let them know what you need (or what you don’t) through the ups and downs of pregnancy. Often, friends, family members and partners are left feeling lost, unable to remedy a mood swing or lift your spirits when you’re feeling down. Sometimes, they think they are being helpful when in fact they are leaving you feeling overwhelmed. Luckily, the more you are direct, the more everyone can feel at ease.
Here are 3 tips for setting boundaries during your pregnancy:
1. If you don’t feel up to it, say so. It’s okay.
During pregnancy, it’s natural for your circle of friends and family to want to surround you and assist you. But sometimes, it can feel overwhelming. Don’t feel that you are being insensitive or rude by saying no to a get-together or asking for a weekend to yourself. Hosting people in your home is often exhausting on a regular day, but the further you are along in your pregnancy, the more daunting it becomes. It’s important to remember that these people have good intentions, and likely just want to help, so try pitching ideas that do work for you. Tell someone a restaurant you’ve been craving and ask if they’ll meet you there, or suggest binge watching a TV show you’ve been really into instead of having company come for a meal. That way, there’s no pressure on you to prepare food or plan an entire evening. Simply pick up snacks and relax!
2. You don’t have to tolerate unsolicited pregnancy advice.
There are most likely many women in your life who have been through pregnancy already. From your mother to friends, to in-laws, these women will offer you advice and anecdotes from their pregnancy journeys. But if you’re finding all of the tips and recommendations taxing, it’s more than fine to put a stop to it. At the end of the day, it is your body and your pregnancy. It is up to you whose advice you take and what decisions are right for you. Be vocal, and let someone know when they are crossing the line. For example, if someone is pushing you to consider home birth, simply say “I appreciate your point of view, but I have already made my decision and am not interested in discussing it any further.” Being firm, but polite is always the best route to take. You can then let them know that if you do come across a situation that you are unsure of or that you’re open to receiving advice on, you will ask.
3. Draw the line when it comes to sharing information.
You may notice that people are asking you increasingly personal questions throughout your pregnancy, like if the pregnancy was planned or if you intend to breastfeed. The inquiring person may just be trying to spark conversation and be totally unaware that these questions can feel invasive. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, it’s best to let them know that these types of discussions aren’t enjoyable for you. When an off-putting topic arises, try gently letting your friend or family member know that you’d prefer to talk about something else. For example, you could say “I love chatting with you, but there are some questions I’m not comfortable answering. Do you mind if we talk about _____ instead?” This way, you’re still engaging with that person, and letting them know that you enjoy their company. And they have a better understanding of what kinds of areas you’re open to talking about!
Remember, as long as you are tactful about how you communicate your limitations to your friends and family, things should go smoothly. They love and care about you, and want what’s best for you. This is a significant period of time in your life, and it’s okay for you to set some rules about how you want to experience it.