A new mom has just experienced the biggest adrenaline rush – more feelings of pain and love than ever before. If you’ve never been there, you may not know how simple questions or statements really affect a new mother. Here are some statements to avoid the next time you see a new mom.
1. “Well, at least you had an easy pregnancy/delivery.”
This one is frustrating because no one knows what a new mother just went through. Even the person closest to her probably doesn’t fully understand what it’s like bringing a baby into this world. It’s an emotional, physical and spiritual experience that everyone handles differently. Yes, maybe compared to others her pregnancy or delivery was “easy,” but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the hardest thing she’s ever done. Never make a new mother feel small compared to others; she just performed a miracle.
2. “Are you sleeping?”
Part of the motherhood job description is not sleeping. Of course new moms aren’t sleeping. They have a tiny human who needs them on call. If the baby wakes up, mom wakes up too. Hours and hours of cuddling, nursing and comforting take place at night – even with babies who sleep well.
3. “Are you sure she’s yours? She really doesn’t look like you.”
Only in rare cases do babies actually get switched at birth. This question just breaks a mom’s heart. Who wants to hear that her child looks nothing like her?
4. “Do you want me to babysit?”
Some moms really do want others to babysit for them so they can have a break. Others enjoy taking their babies everywhere. Either way, if they really want you to babysit, they’ll ask.
5. “Babies are so boring.”
The moment a woman first feels those little toes pushing on her ribs, she learns to really love her baby. Hormones and emotions go off the charts from conception to postpartum. The last thing a new mother wants to hear is how boring babies are. Babies, bottles, binkies, onesies and cribs are all that’s on her mind right now. Even talking about poop and spit-up is no longer taboo.
6. “What made you want to have a baby? Was he planned?”
This has to be one of the worst questions a person can ask. Even if a baby was planned down to the day, this becomes very awkward. It’s a personal detail that shouldn’t be brought up unless the new mother decides to share of her own free will.
7. “My baby never … ” or “My baby always … “
A new mother doesn’t really want to hear about what your baby could do better than hers. Parenthood is not a competition, and just like every baby is different, so is every parent. Even if it was a competition, all parents know their children are the best.
8. “Is it a boy or a girl?”
It? A new mom did not just give birth to a hairy character from “The Adams Family.” Her baby is not an “it.” This question is especially offensive when the baby is decked out in a cute headband and bright pink outfit. If you really can’t tell a baby’s gender, ask a question like, “How is your baby doing?” Mom will likely follow up with, “She is doing great, but she just started teething!” Find out the gender without making a mom feel like she has a genderless child.
9. “How is breastfeeding going?”
First of all, did the new mom even mention that she’s breastfeeding? There are many valid reasons not to breastfeed – medical issues, work or maybe other reasons you don’t really need to know. Breastfeeding is a very personal decision that should be between the mother, father and baby. If a new mom is breastfeeding, she may not want to talk about such intimate things. It can be kind of embarrassing, stressful and painful – not something a mother always wants to talk about.
10. “You’re going to spoil him by holding him so much. You should just let him cry it out.”
There is no such thing as “spoiling a baby.” A new mom may or may not choose to try the “cry-it-out method” when her baby reaches an appropriate age. Babies need to feel loved, and if parents leave them without comfort, they will feel abandoned.
Just remember that new mothers are emotional. If you slip up and upset a new mother, it could just be the hormones talking. Try to remain calm, positive and loving. Be a good listener and good friend.