It doesn’t take long to forget how it felt to be pregnant.
My last baby was born almost three years ago — which is not long, I realize, but long enough that I’ve forgotten what it was like to be a pregnant woman surrounded by family, friends … and deeply held (and proudly spouted) societal beliefs about what I should do and how I should feel during that extremely intimate time in my life.
Long enough that I’ve realized … it doesn’t take long to find yourself on the unsolicited advice side on the topic of pregnancy.
An old friend of mine recently contacted me to break some exciting news. She’s pregnant! I was ecstatic for her, and in my excitement, I almost began to word vomit all over my friend who was simply texting me to tell me she was growing a baby. She had asked no questions.
If you’re like me — you’ve been there and done that, sort of, but you also don’t want to be that mom, giving unsolicited advice and acting like you know it all when you really don’t. I still have to remind myself that, just because I’m two kids deeper into motherhood than this newly pregnant friend, that doesn’t mean that her experience will be exactly like mine, so my advice might not even be applicable to her pregnancy.
Giving advice and resources to a pregnant friend before they ask for it may be annoying to them — remember that everyone else may be doing the same — but you still want to provide support. Need some ideas to crack your support-giving imagination open? Here are some ways to offer a pregnant friend some support while standing out in the crowd of opinion-givers.
Checking in on your friend, even if she does not reach out, is a great way to offer support. If you find that your friend doesn’t check in with you to give you details about her experience so far, it’s possible she feels embarrassed or thinks she’d be a nuisance. Reaching out to her may give her some confidence to open up for support. (Of course, if you continually reach out and she never shares information or seems bothered by your efforts, read the room!)
Being available for your friend if she does reach out to you is another way to give support. Realistically speaking, you can’t always be available — you have a life of your own. But be there when you can, and if your friend reaches out to you and you aren’t available, let her know that hear her and are not avoiding her, and you’ll be in touch when you can. Communication is key.
Provide a nonjudgmental ear.
Listening to what your friend has to vent about or what she’s excited about is a potent form of support during pregnancy. Remember, there are a lot of hormones at play during pregnancy, and not everyone will understand that she’s not crazy. This is where you, as someone who’s gone through it, can really be a powerful source of support. Having someone who will listen to you while you’re growing a baby and having a hormone cocktail sets the stage for a solid postpartum community.
Spoil her a little.
Remember being pregnant and really wanting a specific treat, but you had to get it yourself? Treating your friend to a special snack or activity could be all that’s needed to make a her smile.
Hold her accountable.
The beginning of pregnancy may be challenging for a first-timer; everything is so new (and sometimes weird). Being pregnant may cause your friend’s world to be flipped upside down, but you can help her keep a piece of her true self intact. How? Help her make a list of things she enjoys doing, and from there, help her choose at least one thing that she can realistically continue doing. Make sure she keeps doing it by checking in with her or scheduling a time to do the activity with her.
There are many other ways to provide a woman companionship during pregnancy, but I hope that these ideas will inspire your imagination to find other ways to offer support.
What was the best form of support you received during your pregnancy? —Jasmin