Sharing is caring, content is king, pics or it didn’t happen. How do new parents navigate what to share about their pregnancies, births, and parenting choices?
Are you an open book when it comes to your favourite baby names, your birth plan and your due date or do you prefer to keep things mostly between you and your partner? Will you let everyone know when you’re in labour, or will you surprise them with an “FYI we had a baby” text message?
Make no mistake about it, you call all the shots here. In case you’re wondering though, here’s a list of things you don’t *have to* share:
Your due date.
Don’t want people calling and texting as soon as you hit 38 weeks? Be a little aloof with the exact due date. Think, “baby is due in May” or “arriving sometime around Christmas.” Due dates are tricky. The first time you give birth, you’re quite likely to deliver after your due date. Nonetheless, women in their last month of pregnancy are bombarded with questions and comments like “Haven’t you had that baby yet?!” and “Do you think you’ll go into labour soon?” and “My friend’s cousin’s girlfriend ran a 5K and had the baby the next day, you should try that!”
Well-meaning or not, the barrage of messages and calls is an express ticket to anxiety town. They’re called “estimated due dates” for a reason, and you can keep yours a secret if you think it’ll help you to cope.
The sex of the baby.
You want to know, but you don’t want to share? Go for it! You’re grown ups now (you’re about to have a baby, so…), do whatever you want and don’t feel bad. More and more I see parents-to-be finding out the sex of the baby but keeping it to themselves. Maybe it’s because they love having their own little secret. Maybe it’s because they prefer to avoid the slew of pink bows or blue trucks that tends to follow a big gender reveal. Either way, if it’s what you want then you should go for it.
The name(s) you’ve picked out.
Don’t want opinions about your shortlist of baby names? Don’t share them. Many a favourite name has been ruined by uninvited comments from friends and loved ones. Again, these might fall into the camp of “well-meaning” or constructive criticism, but ultimately you don’t need anyone’s approval.
Because it’s so common to find out and share the sex of the baby, it’s nice to save the baby’s name for the birth announcement. A grand introduction! Plus, at that point you’d have to be a real jerk to say something negative about it. Who could say something bad about a beautiful brand new baby?
When you’re in labour.
Now. This one really divides people. For some, the thought of a bustling delivery room with half a dozen loved ones ooooohing and ahhhhing and Instagramming their way through each contraction is exactly what they want. Others would rather live broadcast their swollen vagina on the internet than have extra family members in the room for their birth, and they make that clear from the get go. Then there are the ones who are stuck in the middle: even though they don’t want an audience, they have family members who insist on being there (some even say it’s their “right” to be there!). To that I say…oh, hell no.
Allow me to insert my opinion for just a second, as a professional doula who witnesses and supports birth on a regular basis: comfort is GOOD for birth. Above all, the name of the game is creating an environment in which you feel as relaxed and uninhibited as possible. Having people in the labour suite who do not calm you, with whom you do not feel comfortable being both literally and metaphorically naked, tends to make giving birth even more challenging. Who needs that?
Here’s where it gets more controversial. The same thing goes for family in the waiting room. For some, this feels great! Just knowing that your baby is about to be welcomed by a troupe of loved ones is great motivation and comfort. For so many others though, it can cause anxiety and stress. A constant rotation of people in and out of the room, the sense that everyone is waiting and “Why is it taking so long? We’ve been here for hours!”…it’s just too much. You might start to feel like the watched pot that never boils when really, sometimes birth just takes a while and it’s all good.
Bottom line: your comfort and happiness matter so much more than anyone else’s so don’t let ANYONE guilt you into inviting them in or even telling them you’re in labour if you’d rather not. You’re about to have a baby….for one more day, please go ahead and make it all about YOU.
Your birth and parenting choices.
“You’re not going to get an EPIDURAL, are you?”
“You’re going to circumcise him, right?”
“You’re not going to be one of those moms who breastfeeds in the middle of a RESTAURANT, are you?”
Let the games begin! It’s just a fact: people are going to ask about and comment on the choices you make for your pregnancy, your birth, and the way you parent your kids. Some of the people in your inner circle will feel entitled to an opinion on these things. Occasionally, strangers in the grocery store will feel entitled to an opinion on these things. Here are some suggested responses for when you don’t feel like listening or sharing:
“That’s going to be my/our decision and we’ll figure it out when the time comes.”
“We’re going to talk with our doctor about that.”
“I’m just going to go with the flow and do whatever works best for us.”
“Thanks, we’ll think about that.”
And so on, and so forth (and sometimes you have to be a little more…firm). Shake those unwanted comments and questions off because you don’t have to care what anyone thinks. Again, this is all about YOU and your family and ultimately, you don’t have to share.
What do you think? Which parts of your journey did you want to share with others, and which parts did you keep to yourselves?