Being a new mom is the craziest experience. The mix of emotions you feel during that first month is unreal. You are the strongest you have ever been while also feeling the weakest. You’re learning every day what works for the baby, how to take time for yourself, and often look to other moms for advice and support. While encouraging words and sharing past experiences can be helpful, it can also come off as hurtful and dismissive. Some comments are downright unhelpful.
I believe these are the 5 things we should think twice about before saying:
Are you breastfeeding the baby?
I never realized before having a baby how complicated feeding can be. I believe that a fed baby is a happy baby and that being a mother means making decisions that are the best for the baby. The path to feeding a baby is not the same for every person, so we must stop asking questions that assume if you don’t breastfeed is the first and only option. I struggled with breastfeeding, and when asked how breastfeeding was going, I felt another layer of pressure like I was failing and doing something wrong. I slowly realized that it wasn’t anyone’s business and that I don’t need to answer that question.
It’s just the baby blues.
Those first days after having a baby are earth-shaking. Your body is in complete shock, hormones raging, and you have been emotionally pushed beyond anything you’ve experienced. It’s common and ok for you to continue feeling off and needing to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing postpartum depression. I felt at my worst a few months after my daughter was born and hated hearing the phrase “baby blues” because it felt like it was some phase that I just needed to get over. If a new mom explains her emotional issues, we need to be listening and encouraging her to get professional help if needed. Any comment that minimizes her feelings is unhelpful.
Your body will bounce back!
I honestly don’t know why this is even a common phrase that every new mom hears. Why would you ever give each other the expectation that your body will quickly go back to how it looked before having a baby? This unrealistic pressure society gives women to “bounce back” is toxic and creates an unhealthy self-image. The truth is that stretch marks should be celebrated, cellulite is normal, and that your body is BEAUTIFUL for creating life.
Is your baby sleeping through the night?
Before I had a child, I was so guilty of asking my new mom friends this question. I didn’t mean for it to be upsetting, but I was just curious and so naive. The expectation that a baby will just suddenly sleep through the night is so crazy to me. After I had my baby, I cringed when people asked me that because the answer was no. My child is not sleeping, and neither am I. I knew my job as a mom was to get my daughter to sleep, so I would do anything necessary to make sure she would sleep, which usually meant that I wasn’t sleeping. It’s so easy to forget how the parents are doing, so when asking how sleep is going, be mindful that you are talking to a very sleep-deprived person who needs encouragement.
Unhelpful Comment Format: Just wait till…
Whenever I was asked how it was going and explained what new developments my child was having, people would often respond with “just wait till…”. I would share I’m excited that my daughter is almost crawling, and people would say, “just wait till they can walk and make a mess everywhere.” While I know the intent was good, it also felt like they were dismissing how I was feeling. I understand that people were giving their advice on what was to come, but as a new mom, you are so excited to reach milestones. You don’t want to feel anxious about what’s next to come. You don’t want not to stay present in the moment. My daughter changed so much in the first year, and I don’t want to wish any of those moments away. So let’s give new moms their moment and try to remember how it felt during those first precious years.