Avoiding the Well-Meaning Pregnancy Critic During the Holidays

By Ginger Henderson

Pregnant Woman EatingThe holidays bring with them what I call the three Fs – faith, food and family. While these words often evoke warm fuzzy feelings in our memories, in the heat of the moment they often bring out emotions that are, well, less than fuzzy. When you find yourself  in the throes of pregnancy-induced emotion during these celebratory times, the balancing act of remaining tactful in the face of (mostly) well-meaning relatives can become even more difficult. Suddenly, people who you may only see once a year become experts on everything from the best traditions to hand down to your offspring to how many calories you should consume during the festivities. What’s an expectant mother to do?

*Gasp* “You’re celebrating what?”

Interfaith marriages have grown dramatically in recent years. No longer does one parent necessarily feel the need to abandon his or her religious beliefs and traditions for the sake of family unity. Children of interfaith couples grow to understand and appreciate the beliefs, rituals and morals of their families, even if they don’t fit into a neat little faith-named box.

Religion is a very slippery slope, even without the involvement of extended family. So how do you handle Great Aunt Gertrude’s clicking tongue when she learns that your home displays both a Christmas tree and a Menorah? What do you say when she insists that your inclusion of various faiths undermines the integrity of all of them?

The key here is to keep things short and sweet. Express to your great aunt that you understand her concern, but that your decision is what you and your partner have decided is best for your family. When you validate her feelings and identify her fears, you show that you’re listening to her concerns and not just brushing her off. You can say, “I know our family believes Christmas is a time to celebrate Jesus’s birth. When the baby is born, we will celebrate Jesus’s birth together, but we’ll also celebrate the Miracle of Lights from my husband’s faith. Our baby will know that both of our faiths are important in shaping who we’ve grown to be and how we live our lives.” Most times, this will be enough to quiet any fears that may have cropped up, but if not, don’t be afraid to end the conversation. After all, it’s your family and
your decision. “I appreciate your concern, but this is what we’ve decided is best for our family. Could I get you a cup of coffee or some dessert?”

“You know that eating for two is just an expression, right?”

With the exception of childhood, you’ll likely never receive as many comments about the food you eat more than during your pregnancy. When the food offerings are multiplied as they are over the holidays, the advice grows exponentially. Everyone seems to have an opinion, and no one seems to mind voicing it – tactful or not. So what do you say when your grandmother raises an eyebrow at your third slice of red velvet cake or your cousin comments that you’re not eating enough for your growing baby’s needs?

At times like these, it’s helpful to have your doctor to back you up. If you’re lucky enough to have an obstetrician in the family, stop reading and thank your lucky stars. Otherwise, relay the advice you’ve received from your doctor on nutrition.

Try these on for size…

“My doctor has said that my blood glucose and weight gain is normal for my trimester, so I’m not concerned about indulging a bit this year.”

“My doctor’s advised me to watch my weight gain at this point in my pregnancy. We’ve discussed portion sizing and how to make adjustments so that my baby is getting what he or she needs.”

“Since I’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, my doctor’s told me to be extra careful about what I eat.”

“I talked with my doctor about this very thing at my last visit. She said everything looks great with both me and the baby, so I’m in the clear. She even told me to enjoy an extra helping for her!”

By referencing your doctor in these statements, you communicate that you’ve thought about these situations ahead of time and cared enough to discuss them with a professional.

The important thing to remember in every situation you encounter is that your family members have a deep love for both you and your unborn child. Their questions, comments and advice are born through their care and concern for your well-being. That’s something to be celebrated, regardless of season.

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