Think about it. A new mum has spent 40 weeks growing a baby, and then potentially a couple of days in labour. She’s knackered and emotional, and has a new baby to look after whilst adjusting to an entire new world. The last thing that she wants to hear are other’s thoughts and opinions parted onto her own. She will welcome them and smile, however underneath they could be causing her worry, anxiety and self-doubt, when she’s already got enough on her plate.
When you become a parent for the first time your mind goes into overdrive. You question everything, and you even question your own ability. That coupled with pain from the giving birth and sleepless nights, you are treading on eggshells with a brain that’s a live wire. Anything can tip you over the edge.
I speak from experience having had my daughter nearly three years and I’m due my second in a matter of weeks. I remember some of comments, which looking back were ridiculous, but at the time were enough to annoy the hell out of me and make me feel like I just wasn’t up to the job. That is the job of Motherhood.
So if you’re reading this and you know someone who has recently had a baby or you know someone who is about to give birth, here are a list of things to avoid saying to a new mum. Of course we love hearing your praise and kind words, but some opinions and judgemental comments needs to stay where they are – in your head, not to be spoken.
As a new parent just under three years ago, some of the things that really got my goat were:
Is she sleeping through yet?
No of course she’s not sleeping through the night yet, she’s a baby, she has no concept of time and needs a feed every 2 hours.
So when are you having another?
I’m pretty sure I was asked this being wheeled out of theatre after my c-section. My immediate response after a 60 hour induction and c-section was “never”!
Sleep when the baby sleeps
This is really easy to say, however when you have the washing, cleaning and cooking to do, plus 11 million other things, it is virtually impossible to sleep when the baby sleeps. Also as a new parent I actually feared sleeping when the baby slept, just in case something happened to her.
Those are just some of the things said to me when I became a parent, and here’s what a bunch of lovely bloggers also had to say:
- “Isn’t baby sleeping through the night yet? Mine did at 3 weeks old.” Argh!! I don’t want to know! says Hampshire Mums
- I have a love hate relationship with the phrase ‘sleep when baby sleeps’ says Real Mum Reviews
- “Doesn’t he look like his dad” says Amy Treasure
- “Oh it’s just a phase it will pass, you will sleep in a couple of years” says Anklebiters Adventures
- “Or the classic – ‘when are you having another??’ when your stitches are still healing and you can’t even sit down without wincing. Sure, that’s the exact thing on my mind right now!!!” says Real Mum Reviews
- “Is he good? No actually, he’s stolen all the scissors, pooped in the washing machine and I’m pretty sure he’s trying to start a war with North Korea” says And Another 10 Things
- “Enjoy this time and cherish every moment. Yes we know we should enjoy it and they grow up fast but we don’t need reminding especially if we are having a bad day, particularly exhausted and feeling overwhelmed” says Chilling with Lucas
- “Did you tear? Oh, you didn’t? Wow! Good Girl!” – I had this comment so many times. And from people who I don’t know very well! What is people’s fascination with whether or not you managed to birth a child without causing too much damage to your lady bits? says Pushing The Moon
- ‘You need to do X, Y and Z’ – whenever I heard that phrase I instantly ignored what came after. I hated all the unwanted advice. We’re doing just fine, you know? And maybe, just maybe, my baby is different from yours, says Mummy Alarm
- “Sleep when the baby sleeps”. My baby was ill, so hardly slept at the beginning. Also “It’s not possible for a baby to be awake for that long at this age”. It is and it was, says Katy Kicker
- I hated all the comments from the Grandparents like ‘in my day we didn’t do it like that’ or “why don’t you try”. You already feel like you’re getting so much advice from everyone and I found trusting my instincts was always best, says Surrey Mama
- My mother in laws favourite. “Oh did you have a bad night? You look tired!” says Mummy Fox
- I’ll say from personal experience of a new mum with post-natal depression, my doctor – “you have a lovely, healthy baby, there’s nothing to be down about”. This was detrimental to me and my health for over a year. Also, I hated family telling me “You’re only creating a rod for your own back” in regards to rocking my babies to sleep, picking them up when they cried, etc, says Dolly Dowsie
- Before I had even had my daughter I was told “oh you’re really going to struggle when the baby is here” Why are you trying to set me up to fail? Obviously it’s going to be hard it’s a massive massive lifestyle change, says Candyfloss and Dreams
- If breastfeeding, “when will you stop feeding him, do you think?” It has no impact on them; I’m not sure why anyone else needs to know plans to stop breastfeeding, particularly if there’s been a tricky start, says Baby Foote
- ‘You really shouldn’t hold her so much – you’re creating a rod for your own back’. My baby, my rules. And as far as I’m concerned you CANNOT spoil a baby with too much love, says Less Refined Mind
- If breastfeeding ‘just give them a bottle, it’s easier’ says Nomipalony
- Are you going to lose some weight now? Yes my wonderful mother said that to me the day after an emergency section with me first, says This Mummy Loves
- I got asked some awful things when I had my twins the worst was ‘Are they IVF babies’ people somehow feel they have a right to ask whatever they want, says A Day in The Life of a Mum of 6
- “If you pick them up every time they cry, they’ll keep expecting it – they know how to push your buttons” – and any other indication that your baby is manipulative, says Keep Up With The Jones Family
- “About breastfeeding I was often told to share her and let other people have a feed with a bottle” Er no thanks, she’s perfectly happy with my breasts! says My Mummy’s Pennies
- ‘Oh were you too posh too push?’ I had this from a young girl shortly after my first emergency c-section, says What Hannah Did Next
- “Are you going back to work soon?” – seriously, when a new mum is trying to navigating the choppy waters of new motherhood the last thing she is thinking about in her sleep deprived mind is when and how she will return to work. This question is more likely to push her over the edge than be well meaning so please refrain! says Motherhood: The Real Deal
Those are just some of the things to avoid saying to new parents. We are always looking for support, a friendly hug or a shoulder to cry on will do. What we are not looking for are opinions and passing judgements. So if you’re talking to a new mum or mum-to-be, just think a little before you speak, as you never know what impact your words may have.
Generally anything related to sleep and feeding are questions to steer away from. You may think that you’re helping that new mum, however they will appreciate you so much more if you made them a cup of tea, or brought them a big bar of chocolate or cake, or gave them a glass of wine.
For some strange reason I’m oddly looking forward to hearing these again once my second arrives, and this time round I’ll be making sure to take them with a pinch of salt.
What was the worst thing said to you when you become a parent?