Helping Your Friend Through Their First Pregnancy
You’ve been a mum for a few years now, and your best friend has always been there for you. Now, you’ve had the fantastic news that they are expecting their first child. This is an amazing time for your friend, and you couldn’t be happier but, your role in their life is going to change.
Your new role in friendship
You’ve been through every stage of pregnancy, and now you are going to become a fountain of advice as your friend navigates their first pregnancy. This new role in your friendship is exciting, but it’s also important to remember that every birth is different. What you experienced isn’t going to be the same as your friend. So, how do you advise your BFF in the right way and help her get the most out of the next nine months?
While all pregnancies are different, the emotional rollercoaster is similar over most births. There is fear, anxiety, excitement and joy. Morning sickness may need to be treated differently depending on the person, but the reassurance and empathy that helps someone stay strong and get through it are the same.
How much support do they need?
Through the first trimester, you should establish how much support your friend needs. If they have a partner that wants to be involved at every step, then you may just become a sounding board. Be there for all the questions that men can’t answer. If you notice your friend is struggling with exhaustion and sickness, let her know that it does pass. While you might have found eating a slice of toast as soon as you woke up, eased little nausea, this might not be the best option for someone else. What you found helpful, another person could discover makes them feel worse. Instead, offer suggestions on multiple ways of easing the first trimester.
Encourage her to listen to her body, is there anything that she is craving? Recommend she eats little and often, this can help ease morning sickness a little. Let her know that her senses will help her work out what is best avoided. Your sense of smell is highly tuned when you are in the first trimester, so if she can’t stand the smell of coffee, she needs to stay away from it.
Also, encourage her to get some exercise, but if she wants to sleep, she should. You’ll know that as soon as the baby arrives, she isn’t going to get a good night’s sleep for some time, so she should make the most of midday naps while she can. Perhaps arrange to meet up in the park, so you know she is getting plenty of exercises. If she is tired, you could just sit in the garden. Fresh air is great for the body, mind and soul. This is good for a growing baby!
A shoulder to cry on
Emotions are up and down during pregnancy. As a friend, you could help her by being a shoulder to cry on and a person to be angry with. This could help take the pressure of her relationship. Don’t be upset if when you spend time together, you only talk about her life. Right now, she is going through so many changes, and it may mean you have to find someone else to support your emotional needs. Don’t worry, you’ll eventually get your friend back, but for now, let her be a little bit selfish.
Also, don’t take it personally if she snaps at you. Remember how you felt when you were going through a pregnancy. You could be happy one moment, and then the smallest thing could set you off. Make the first move if you do have any disagreements and never expect an apology. Move on and be there; that is the most important thing.
Tell the truth – just a lighter version
When your friend starts to ask questions about your birth, you need to be a little creative with the details. Don’t lie. Childbirth is tough, and we all know that. So don’t let her think it will all be fine and she has nothing to worry about. In the same sense, don’t give her all the details of your birth, particularly if you had a tough time. Instead, talk through the parts that made labour better for you. Start with suggesting techniques that you picked up. It could be that yoga was particularly useful for you if so you could suggest that you both attend some pregnancy yoga classes. This will be fun for you, but beneficial for your friend.
You should also try hard not to steer her too much in the direction of your birth plan. You might have had a completely natural birth with no medical intervention. However, if you discuss how brilliantly you did at this, it could apply pressure to your friend and make her feel she is a failure if she doesn’t go down the same route. Instead talk to her honestly about the pros and cons of what you did, while discussing other options that could work—reminding her constantly that every birth is unique and she should choose whichever path makes her feel the most confident.
Help her decide on the essentials
A great way of helping your friend is to discuss all the essential details that you may have picked up along the way. Such as the most important baby essentials. What she is going to need to have ready when the baby arrives. It can be easy to forget things in the lead up to the pregnancy, but you have the benefit of experience. How many babygrows should she have, how many bottles? Was there any item that you found you couldn’t live without? Sit down and make a list of everything that you discovered you needed after your baby was born, so she has a head start when her new baby arrives.
What did you have in your hospital bag?
It’s also an excellent time to discuss her birthing bag. Most of us know all the basics, and we focus on simple things such as pyjamas, toothbrush and a hairbrush. Depending on your friend it might be wise to suggest she packs a phone charger, some change, a book and her headphones. Even when labour starts, she could have a long wait in the hospital before she gives birth.
If your friend is used to glamming up, then suggest she takes her hair straighteners and makeup with her. It will be the last thing she thinks about when planning her birth bag. However, there are lots of mums that end up with those ‘first-moment’ photos and hate the way they look. Perhaps you could offer to be on hand to come to the hospital and help her look her best. Of course, she might be too tired and too happy even to care. So make sure everything you say is just a suggestion.
Ask how you can help
Finally, don’t forget to ask your friend what she needs from you. Your focus for the next nine months shouldn’t just be on guiding her and teaching her all of your knowledge. You should remember that she is a strong-minded woman and she might want to crack on with this her own way. Let her know that you are there to help her in any way she needs you to be even if it’s to collect her groceries or help her walk the dog.
The next nine months are going to be amazing for you both, and soon you’ll both have children who will grow up and form a bond as close as yours. Enjoy this time together and prepare for a fantastic future.