Say, “Let me know if there is anything I can do.”
This is a big one for me. We had probably close to 50 visitors my daughter’s first week. Yes, you read that right, 50. I counted. Each and every person said some variation of “Well let us know if you need something.” Of those 50 people we had about 4 meals brought, and 1 beautiful basket of homegrown produce. Oh and TONS of baby clothes!
I loved showing off my brand new daughter but the constant parade of people coming through offering elusive help was a little frustrating. My husband and I never felt like we could really take people up on that offer. What were we supposed to say? “yes, please! Would you run to the grocery store/ Costco?” or “I would love if you would do a load of laundry, vacuum, do the dishes or clean the bathroom.” But we both never felt that we could do that.
So while visitors were piling up in our living room, so was the laundry, the dishes, and the dust. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it was any of those visitors responsibility to do those things for us, but don’t make the blanket statement like, “Let me know if there is anything I can do.” If you really want to do something for the new parents then make a specific offer! Do a load of laundry without asking. Wash and dry the dishes in the kitchen. Wipe down the counters. Bring a casserole and put it in the fridge. Run the vacuum. Take the dog for a walk!
Don’t Say, “What do you need?”
Um….. technically nothing. We have a healthy baby, a roof over our head, and some semblance of food in the kitchen.
This is the basically a variation on the “Let us know if you need anything.” Instead of saying that show up with some delicious groceries, a meal, or do a chore. We didn’t technically need anything but we would have loved some help!
Don’t Say, “ARE you worried about going back to work?”
Um yes, thanks for bringing up that upsetting topic. I had managed to push it to the back of my mind but thanks for reminding me.
Don’t Say “You’ll Never Sleep Again” or “Say Goodbye to Sleep”
Is there anything less encouraging than telling a new mom how tired she is going to be for the next 18 years? I don’t even know how many experienced moms told me some version of this, REPEATEDLY! No one wants to be reminded of how difficult something is going to be. I almost dreaded giving birth because I was so worried about how tired I was going to be. And guess what? I didn’t feel tired until she was about 2 months old! Even now working full time and having an 8-month old I don’t feel nearly as tired as I thought I would be! I think having a baby actually gave me more energy!
Don’t Say, “So when’s the next one?”
Don’t, just don’t.
I literally just pushed 7 pounds out of my vagina. The last thing I want to think about is doing that again any time soon. Back off and give me some time. Geez!
Don’t Say, “Has your milk come in yet?”
It continues to surprise me that the minute you get pregnant and have a baby, your body and its functions become an appropriate topic of conversation. Whether my milk has come in is on a need to know basis, and guess what you don’t need to know!
Don’t Say “Are You Breastfeeding?” or “You’re breastfeeding, right?
Again my body is not really your business. Yes, I do breastfeed. But what if I had decided not to, or was unable to breastfeed? By asking that question you are putting a brand new mother on the spot to have to justify decisions and rationalize her choices right after she has given birth. Give it a rest. Breastfeeding is also on a need to know basis.
Don’t Tell me how much worse, longer, more traumatic etc. your own labor/ birth was.
This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves! Only a few women did this to me but each time it left me seething, usually because they did it repeatedly. Every childbirth is different. Some are extremely traumatic, and some are less so. BUT when you have just given birth, you don’t need anyone telling you,
- “Pshh your labor was nothing compared to mine.”
- “36 hours, ha! Mine was 42 hours long”
- “oh… you got an epidural, yeah I just couldn’t do that to my baby.”
- “I ripped open from my chin to my toes”
- 2 stitches? I had 25!”
- or any version of the above.
I noticed, that it seemed to be mostly older women who spoke this way to me. Friends of mine who had just had babies in the past year or so never seemed to treat their labor and delivery story as a competition. I don’t know why this is exactly. All I know is there is a time and a place for you to share your labor and delivery story and that time is not when a mother is fresh out of the delivery room. Let her have her moment to process her labor and delivery. Hell, let her have a few months!
Note: This also applies to telling horror labor stories BEFORE the woman has given birth. I will never understand why women want to share their terrible, scary stories with women who haven’t had a baby yet. There is enough fear going into childbirth without being forced to hear first-hand scary birth stories. And newsflash! There is no polite way for a woman to tell you she doesn’t want to hear your story so don’t assume that just because someone is politely listening that they actually want to hear your story (at that time). On the flip side if you had a peaceful, easy, fairytale of a delivery tell that story to an expectant mom! Expectant moms need all the encouragement they can get!
Don’t Say Anything about all my Baby Weight
I don’t want to hear how long it took you to lose your weight or oddly how quickly you lost the weight. My baby weight is of no concern to me right now. Just leave me alone and let me snuggle my fresh little baby! Besides most women should wait to begin safely trying to lose weight until after the first few months as losing weight can affect your recovery, milk supply, and energy levels. See this article on losing weight after pregnancy.
Don’t Immediately Start in With the Unwanted Advice
I don’t know if there is anything more overwhelming then hearing loads of advice pouring from an experienced mother’s mouth. I remember thinking to myself “Can I just have a minute to smell the new baby smell before I start having to listen to advice on everything from teething to preschool?” Take it from me, give that new Mama a rest. AND, if you feel you must offer advice stick to only relevant advice that applies to the here and NOW! Don’t start talking about weaning, walking, and Preschool! Please!