There are a few things you can guarantee when expecting a baby, and one of them is that everyone you know, from your own Mother to your Mother in Law, your neighbor down the street and even the lady behind the counter at your local coffee shop, will all have lots of different opinions about what it means to be a Mom, and all of them will want to share these with you, regularly, whilst you desperately try to adjust to your new role yourself.
Not all of these opinions will be welcome however, and whilst most are said with the best of intentions, there are 10 things that you should NEVER say to a new Mom. Unfortunately, I have heard them all!!!
- Is she sleeping through the night yet?
This is the kind of information you should wait to be volunteered, as chances are, if the Mom’s baby is sleeping through the night already, she will probably be feeling incredibly happy about it and be shouting it loudly from the rooftops. If your new Mom looks exhausted, has a milk stain dribble on their shirt, and has holdalls under their eyes instead of bags, then this is a question probably best avoided. Worse still, they don’t need to hear your stories about how your baby slept through the night from 3 weeks old, it’s not helpful, and will probably just make them want to walk away!
- Is she good?
What does this even mean? Is the alternative that this tiny little human being is actually naughty? That they are already plotting their latest evil escapade and purposely making Mom’s life difficult by waking regularly or being fussy on the boob? They are what they are, an innocent tiny baby, and this is a ridiculous question that is impossible to answer!
- Is he rolling / crawling / walking yet?
I learnt pretty quickly after having my first child that comparison is the thief of joy, and did nothing but leave me feeling inadequate, jealous or concerned. There is a huge amount of pressure on Moms to have their babies reach set milestones or meet the next development step, and as such, I would recommend trying to avoid comparing your baby to those of friends and loved ones. Your baby will reach these milestones when they are ready, and not when textbooks or others might try and dictate, so these questions are best avoided.
- You look tired.
I mean really, of course they look tired! They were awake till 3am last night rocking and patting a baby with colic, and then got woken every hour and a half for more milk top ups. They don’t need someone to tell them they look tired; they are already reminded of it every time they walk past a mirror, parked car or shop window, when their reflection gives them a bit of a fright.
- Are you going to have another?
From almost the minute your baby arrives, people feel the need to question your intentions to procreate again. Not only is this an incredibly inappropriate question to ask with no knowledge of the Mom’s personal circumstances, but chances are the new Mom can’t even sit down without wincing in agony, her stitches won’t be healed and the thought of having sex again any time soon is enough to bring her out in a cold sweat. Don’t go there.
- WOW your baby is big / tiny!!!
Anything that will make the Mom feel insecure about their baby is not worth drawing attention to. Sure, that may well be the chubbiest baby you have EVER seen in your life, but to the new Mom she is perfect, and saying anything otherwise will either lead to a) anger b) upset or c) insecurity.
- Have you lost the baby weight yet?
Pregnancy weight can take time to come off, and losing weight and in most cases, exercising, is unlikely to be at the forefront of the Mom’s mind whilst they care of their newborn. Instead, most are simply attempting to make it through to the end of the day with both themselves and their baby in one piece. Avoid references to diets, bouncing back or fitting in the pre-pregnancy jeans unless you wish to receive a frustrated glare in response.
- I would never do that with my baby…
Please just stop. What worked for you doesn’t need to work for them. Parenting is a personal choice, and just because you chose not to breastfeed, decided to co-sleep or opted for cry it out, doesn’t mean that they need to mirror your views.
- What are you planning to do with your break off work?
Argh. This one I’ve heard far too often, mostly from those who haven’t had children yet and therefore don’t have a clue just how relentless it can be to care for a small human being. Maternity leave is not a break. It’s exhausting. In answer to this question, they are mostly going to spend their ‘break’ awake 24 hours a day, cleaning up copious amounts of poo and sick, and doing all the activities they did before their baby arrived. How does that sound?
- Cherish every moment.
Urgh. We all know that the time goes too fast and that before we know it our babies will be all grown up. We are always reminded to cherish every moment, enjoy every second and ‘make the most’ of our maternity leave. Whilst there is nothing wrong with the sentiment itself, the reality is that it is absolutely impossible to cherish every moment, particularly when your baby vomits in your ear, poops in the bath, or gets woken by a creaky floor board after you’ve taken an hour and a half to get her to sleep. Cherish them annoying moments not, parenting can be tough – don’t feel like you have to be grateful for their presence 24 hours of the day.
One thing’s for sure, parenting is one hell of a journey, and every Mom’s journey is different. Whilst advice, support and guidance can be helpful, there are some comments you need to take with a pinch of salt. When these classics come around, I find the easiest thing is to simply smile and nod or make reference to a nappy explosion before finding the nearest exit. Works like a charm!