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I’m pregnant – and my sister in law thinks I’m a hypochondriac!

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#1 daviesjv

Posted 02 November 2010 - 02:52 PM

“In short, it’s my first pregnancy and I seem to be either sick or injured the whole time - I never imagined pregnancy would be so difficult!!! I’m 24 weeks along now, and so far I’ve had the flu, some horror headaches, morning sickness (although it was all-day sickness not just morning – it seems to have stopped now – yay!!) I have had a couple of bouts of thrush and I seem to have heart burn every night. Add to that the normal exhaustion and a bit of hormonally-inspired weepiness and I’m a walking disaster zone!!

The worst part is though that my SIL (my husband’s sister) is some sort of super woman who has had three kids and sailed through each pregnancy and birth without a single medical complaint (or that’s what she reckons, anyway). She’s constantly saying things like: “Heartburn? Well I went for a walk after dinner each night and I never had heartburn” or: “If you changed your diet you probably wouldn’t keep getting thrush”.  It is driving me crazy!!!

She’s always a competitive person, so I guess she’s keen to prove that she has “better” pregnancies or something. Usually I wouldn’t let her comments get to me – I generally just say something like: “well, everyone’s different you know”. DH can’t see what I’m stressing about.  But I’m hormonal and a bit emotional and she’s got me at the point now that I’m not sure whether my symptoms are real or whether I’m being a hypochondriac. Help! What can I do??


Hi Jenn,

Agh, family dynamics can be a bit tricky at the best of times, and that can be magnified when a life-changing event such as pregnancy is involved. You have already hit the nail on the head though, in that every person and every pregnancy is different – your sister-in-law is going to have quite a different experience of pregnancy (and parenthood, for that matter) to you.

My advice would be to remove the opportunity for your sister in law to compare, by not mentioning your symptoms to her – get an unbiased third-party opinion instead! With that in mind I have asked Bernice Gray, the helpline co-ordinator for the government’s new Pregnancy, Birth and Baby helpline – Healthdirect.org.au -  for some tips. Bernice is also a midwife and registered nurse with over twenty years experience in the pregnancy and peri natal field.

“Every pregnancy is difference whether it’s the first or the fifth,” she says. “No two women are going to have exactly the same experiences, so comments that compare one pregnancy to another often aren’t helpful.”

“Pregnancy is such an emotional, hormonal time and often we can become upset about things that in the usual course of events we’d just take on the chin or ignore. That’s because, apart from the hormones, it’s not just ourselves that we’re concerned about during pregnancy - there is a new little life inside us and a lot of our anxiety is for their wellbeing.”

Jenn, Bernice encourages you that getting some third party support and reassurance can often help to put everything into perspective. “Women are verbal – more so than men,” she says. “And it can be wonderful to talk to other women about anything pregnancy-related that you’re not sure about or which you need reassurance about.” So Jenn, if you’re not getting that support and reassurance from your immediate circle … then look further afield!

“It’s important for parents and parent-to-be to know that there’s help at the end of the telephone,” says Bernice. “Often women just need reassurance and some moral support, and they can pick up the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to speak to someone, whether that is a counsellor, a psychologist or a medical professional. And they can ring as often as they like, all throughout the pregnancy and after.”

So Jenn, in summary I think these are your options:

A: Do what your SIL has possibly been doing throughout her three pregnancies and lie! Pretend that you have no adverse symptoms whatsoever and that everything is perfect, or

B: Take it on the chin and give your SIL the satisfaction of being superior – she’ll probably love you all the more for it!!

C: Explain to her that her comments are upsetting you – and if she continues anyway then avoid her for the next few months!

And whichever option you choose, consider taking advantage of the helpline (1800 882 436) for a bit of a vent and a dose of reassurance!

EB Members: Do you have any advice for Jenn?

#2 goddessof1967

Posted 02 November 2010 - 08:46 PM

Jenn tell your SIL that you have been doing everything she has recommended and you're still having these problems  shrug.gif . She might then be the one to say "oh well, everyone's different".

Edited by goddessof1967, 02 November 2010 - 08:47 PM.

#3 Hanan.H

Posted 03 November 2010 - 07:46 AM

Gosh, I hate comparisons. It starts from the moment you find out you are pregnant, to the birthing experience, and all throughout the child's life and the parenting process. It never ends, and most people are never going to learn that absolutely every person and every experience is going to be different.

Either tell her straight out that her comments aren't helping at all, and that it's unlikely that you'll have a similar pregnancy experience to her.

Give her a dose of her own medicine and start commenting on all the fabulous things that you're experiencing that she never did... Even if you have to tell a little white lie, lol.

Try not to let it worry you so much. Learn as much as you can about your own pregnancy and what you're going through, and seek help from people other than family, because sometimes they can be a little judgmental, unfortunately.

Ignore her comments completely if you can. Even if that means you have to agree with her and be like, "Mmm, yeah." Just to get her to stop talking.

And finally, try to stay away from the topic of pregnancy, birth and babies altogether when you're feeling vulnerable. Talk about other things; shopping and sales, domestic chores, careers and jobs, politics, whatever. When there's nothing to be competitive about, you might just realise how much you have in common and become closer in that way.

#4 whydoibother

Posted 03 November 2010 - 01:28 PM

Well I must be a mega hypochondriac then!
I have had all day sickness each pregnancy and the last one I had HG and was extremely ill the whole time!
I also got pneumonia and a pleural effusion, severe anaemia, protein in my urine, I had thrush and UTI's with my first two kids and the list goes on!

I would tell her to go jump and if she isn't going to be supportive to keep her comments to her self-not everyone glows during pregnancy!

#5 daviesjv

Posted 03 November 2010 - 05:30 PM

Jeez, Rough Diamond, your pregnancy experiences sound more like the rough end of the stick! It looks like they were worth it, though! original.gif

#6 heather124

Posted 04 November 2010 - 11:00 AM

Personally I'd learn to let it go in one ear and right out the other.  If she's like that when you're pregnant, I suspect she's going to be 10 times worse when the baby is here

#7 happywith4

Posted 06 November 2010 - 10:30 AM

Sounds just like my SIL, traditionally she had always been a competitive / jealous type person and pregnancy, giving birth and parenting gave her another opportunity to be 'one up' on everyone else.

Each time one of her friends / family members gave birth she would analyse their experience and of course they were never as 'clever' as she was.

Like PP have mentioned I stopped sharing information with her, which is sad because they are family, but it was always 'thrown back in my face' IYKWIM.

It used to 'get to me' a lot, especially when she would put my kids down.  One day I decided I was not going to let it worry me anymore, someone who has to put others down in order to make themselves feel better is not a good quality to have IMO.


#8 Grobanite

Posted 09 November 2010 - 10:59 AM

I am like you. My Husband cringes when he thinks of  what I was like when I was pregnant.
I wanted to have kids for all my life and when I was pregnant I was over the moon and then all the crap happened. And then I started whinging.
You are not a hypochondriac. Stuff what your SIL says every women has different experiences when pregnant.
In the end though the baby you get at the end of it is worth it. Your SIl in law is great practice for you to tune out as once the baby is here you will get advice from everyone even strangers on how to raise your child.

Edited by Grobanite, 09 November 2010 - 10:59 AM.

#9 Wicked Witch!!!

Posted 09 November 2010 - 11:13 AM

OP - for your heartburn try drinking a splash or two of apple cider vinegar in warm water. My acupuncturist told me about it and as he said 'it works in minutes!!!!!'

as for your sister-in-law, tell her she's the one with issues and should put herself up for research as pregnancy does the weirdest things and she never experienced any of it!!! Maybe suggest that she falls pregnant again as her memory might be playing up.

#10 libbylu

Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:58 PM

Every pregnancy IS different. Console yourself with the fact that there will always be women who suffer less and suffer more than you!
My pregnancy symptoms sounded very much like yours, but you just have to put up with a few months of discomfort, try and think positive, and it will be worth it all once your baby is born.  I just thanked my lucky stars that I was not like either of my two pregnant friends, one who had hyper-emesis (endless vomiting) who threw up 10-15 times a day for the first 4 months and spent weeks in hospital being rehydrated, or the other who had such bad hip dysplasia that she was wheelchair bound.
As for your sister in law, just tell her she should thank her lucky stars that she was one of lucky few who got through her pregnancies unscathed, and to please try not to be too smug about it!

#11 MrsDaisyP

Posted 19 December 2010 - 09:36 AM

Some people do have smooth sailing pregnancies. I was not one of them. My sister in law on the other hand, doesn't look pregnant from behind or in front at 8 months, she returns to a size 8 immediately after each birth (3), never gets nauseus, and is never hormonal.

Sometimes lifes like that. I on the other hand look 7 months pregnant and I'm not.

Sounds to me like your hormones are making things worse than what they are. She is offering some suggestions to help. Have you tried them?

Whatever happens, just enjoy YOUR experience of pregnancy, no matter how difficult it may seem. The end will be worth everything you go through.

Goodluck original.gif

#12 TheStick

Posted 23 December 2010 - 06:55 PM

I think it sounds like you are being a bit over sensitive, which is understandable, pregnancy hormones have that affect.  She is probably just trying to offer suggestions to ease your symptoms, all of which are very standard pregnancy things.  Sure, some people get away with pregnancy a lot easier, but you could be far far worse off too.  Just take from her advice what you want.  I have no doubt you'll be handing out unsolicited advice to pregnant people one day in the future too - we all do it!

#13 Lillip

Posted 30 December 2010 - 08:31 AM

Hi, I had very easy pregnancies both times, and I know I am lucky. And I have had friends who have had difficult pregnancies, especially one who had to go off work from about 32 weeks on doctors orders.
I still offer my experiences and advise when asked, but try to make them understand we are all different and to expect the unexpected and hope for the best.

It seems SIL isn't being very sensitive to you and your needs and your feelings. I really feel you need to say something or get DH to say something as this is a very long journey. If she is comparing your pregnancies, then you can be sure she is going to compare your children, your parenting skills and choices and whatever else. Best nip it in the butt now.

Just remember - You are and will be the Best Mum you can be and your little bubba will love you for it. Nothing anyone says or does will change that!

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