"You're pregnant! Yay!" Or, maybe, "You're pregnant?! Whoa." Whether your pregnancy was intentional or not, if you become pregnant and are the only or few among your social circle to be pregnant, the transition can be difficult. The value and support from friendships is often a huge component of our lives, and pregnancy is a time in which many expectant parents feel propelled to reach out even more to their support network. But the truth is, your current friends -- who have never been pregnant nor, quite possibly, spent much time around babies -- may not provide the best support and network during your pregnancy and into parenthood. Some friends will be great no matter what, whether or not they "get it." And others may distance themselves from you, treat you differently, or act resentful or bitter. These actions and behavior can affect how you feel about yourself, your pregnancy, and your life. Keeping in mind the following tips will help you through the process and allow you to feel happy in your pregnancy, even if your friends aren't happy for you.
Don't take it personally. Easier said than done, I know. But you should know that your friends may be going through an experience of their own, as it relates to you. They may not know how to act around you, how things might change between you, or what kinds of things you want to do now that your pregnant. For those who have never been through pregnancy and parenthood, it is unchartered territory and somewhat of a mystery.
Be honest with your friends and yourself. Let your friends know that you are just as new to all of this as they are, that you still need their support, and that even though you may not want to do some of the same things you did pre-pregnancy, you still want to be involved socially. Have an honest conversation with yourself, too. You are on a major life-changing journey, and while that doesn't mean you will lose who you are, it does mean that some priorities and interests will shift -- and that's OK.
Find mommy friends. You don't have to give up your single or "non-mommy" friends, but finding friends who are pregnant or parents will go a long way toward helping you feel supported and part of the new world that you've entered.
Keep in touch. Communication works both ways. If your friends stop calling, it may be because they feel like they'll hurt your feelings if they tell you they're going bar hopping on Friday night. Make it a point to also reach out to your friends and let them know that you know things are different, but their friendship is still important. Consider planning a time to catch up one-on-one over lunch or dinner.
Learn to let go when it's time. You may have a friend or two who completely disconnects once you enter the realm of parenthood. If your friendship is solid, it will remain. If not, perhaps it wasn't a connection worth keeping. Allow yourself to grieve over the loss, and then give yourself permission to move on.
Readers! Share your experience with pregnancy and friendships... What kinds of challenges did you encounter and how did you handle them?