4 min Read
How to baby-proof your friendships
December 16, 2013
4 min Read
December 16, 2013
Maintaining your friendships and social life could require a little extra effort now that you have a bun in the oven.
I was seven months pregnant when my little brother turned 19. Being the great sister that I am, I volunteered to be the designated driver for his big night out. As I sipped water and watched my brother and his friends enjoy themselves, I couldn’t help but notice the curious glances at my belly. I couldn’t tell if those looks were judging me for being pregnant at the pub, or respecting me for combining my pregnancy and social life in a responsible way.
Dr. Kristina Llewellyn, a professor in Social Development Studies at the University of Waterloo, says that some disconnect between pregnant and non-pregnant friends is normal. She speaks from experience; she is currently expecting her second child, and she says that some people in her social circle still keep their distance. She helps them relate by involving them with the baby – but on their own terms. “Making your friends who you are closest to feel like aunts and uncles is always a nice approach, and they often like to have those designations. I have family friends who are called my uncles, and they have been a huge part of my whole life,” says Dr. Llewellyn.
So what else can you do to maintain your relationships beyond the bump?
Don’t forget that your friends have important things happening in their lives, too. Ask questions about their jobs, families and interests. “I make efforts for my daughter not to be the only thing I talk about. Besides, I love my friends and like to hear about their lives,” says Danielle Lopez, mother of a six-month-old daughter.
Feel free to remain a part of the social scene for as long as you feel safe and comfortable. Be the designated driver, join your friends at the pub, or host a group at your house, but don’t feel pressured to stay out to the point of exhaustion. Jane Horvath brought the gang to her when she was pregnant with her son. “I had couch parties where I provided fried chicken, cookies, ice cream and bad Netflix movies. Even child-free ladies like to eat like a pregnant woman once in a while.”
Facebook sharing is an entirely personal thing; share as little or as much as you feel comfortable, and know that your true friends won’t mind (and if they do, they will quietly unsubscribe from your status updates without a fuss.) Mali Medina, mother of an eight-month-old girl, says, “My personal rule for Facebook is that if I wouldn’t say it to everyone at a party, I don’t say it.” But when Mel Trout was pregnant with her daughter, she had no problem making friends squirm with some of her more personal experiences. “I definitely over-shared in the final month, but I made a joke of it and bolded TMI [Too Much Information] at the start of my Facebook posts,” she jokes.
Try not to put pressure on others to jump on the pregnancy bandwagon (even if it’s mostly in jest). You are excited to become a parent, but you shouldn’t assume that everyone will eventually want kids, too. Rob and Sharon Ro have been together for 13 years, and have chosen not to have children. They sometimes feel pressured to explain their decision to remain child-free. “Some of us have decided not to have children for a number of reasons, some personal, some practical, but with one common element: it was our choice (or it was made for us biologically), and like yours, we’re embracing it,” says Rob.
Pregnancy is an emotional roller coaster, with exhilarating highs and exhausting lows. Share your feelings, but try to avoid making your friends feel like their emotional experiences couldn’t possibly match yours. “Procreation doesn’t create new emotions unavailable to the rest of us,” Rob points out.
Remember that life gets a whole lot busier once your baby is born; take the time now to nurture your friendships and enjoy some downtime.