Women who tell their scary birth stories to pregnant friends are not nice. I don’t care if your pregnant friend asks, I don’t care if you think she is the strongest person in the world; everyone and I mean everyone has a little bit of pregnancy paranoia. Feeding into that by telling your own personal anecdote of fear and pain is counter-productive. Actually, it’s mean.
I don’t think women go out of their ways to maliciously freak-out other pregnant women, I think they just forget how consuming and scary pregnancy can be if you let it. Every pregnant woman has that moment when she finally realizes the baby in her belly is going to have to make it’s way into the world somehow. That moment can be terrifying. Multiply that terror by one thousand if people are sharing horror-stories of births gone wrong.
I was eight months pregnant when a friend of mine told me the story of her friend whose child had a stroke during delivery. What? That was not on my pregnancy paranoia radar. I think she noticed the blood drain from my face, because after she told me the tale of the near-death, weeks in hospital and inevitable developmental delays the baby has, she said, “Oh! I’m sorry. I’m not telling you this to freak you out.” Really? Why the hell are you telling me then?
Maybe some women think they are preparing others for the reality of childbirth when they tell these stories, but no. Don’t do that. Don’t ever do that. Nothing can prepare a woman for 30 hours of labor culminating in a 10 pound baby and a fourth degree tear in her vagina. Nothing. Don’t be an asshole.
Maybe there are some realists out there that really don’t mind these stories, but I think they are few and far between. Pregnancy can be scary, so can childbirth. No reason to have any anecdotal scenes added to your repertoire of pre-birth panic; the constant loop that plays in your head in the weeks before childbirth. Let’s make that loop full of sunshine, roses, and babies that easily slide out of the vagina, shall we?
If you really must make your friend’s pregnancy about you by regaling your tales of horror, wait until she’s delivered. Then you can get as specific as you want and she can tell you all the freaky things that happened to her, too. That is much better timing.