We are all ecstatic when we get to welcome a new family member or a friend’s new baby into the world. We are joyous and want to celebrate with them on this momentous occasion. So we offer to visit, bringing gifts for the new bub and meals for the new parents. Then we sit down for a chat. All well meaning comments and advice – of course – but there are so many controversial parts of motherhood these days (bottle vs. breastfeeding; self-settling vs. hands-on soothing; dummy vs. no-dummy; baby-led weaning vs. traditional feeding). There are just some things you shouldn’t say to a new Mum these things are a pure ‘no-no’ when it comes to conversations with mums.
11 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a New Mum
Here is a list of 11 things you shouldn’t say to a new mum from my experience:
1. “You look tired!” or better yet, “I’m exhausted!” Firstly, thank you for stating the plain old obvious. Of course I am tired! After I just pushed out a tiny human through my wa-hoo who is new to the world and doesn’t understand the concept of sleep, I slept approximately 6 hours over 4.5 days in the hospital. You don’t need to tell me I’m exhausted. Also, if you ever feel that you are exhausted – while I’m sure that is true for your current situation – please do not mention it to me, because I will give you the crazy, sleep-deprived death stare of a new mum.
2. “I wish I could stay at home all day (with the baby)”. This statement is obviously made by those who do not have children. While there may be ‘perks’ to staying at home all day, there are many drawbacks. Early in my new mum days, I missed the freedom to leave the house whenever I wanted (breastfeeding meant I was basically “on tap”), hanging out with adults and sleeping in. While I enjoy being at home with my son, it can get pretty freakin’ tiring a lot of days.
3. “Just ask the dad to babysit.” This irks me – and many mums I know – something fierce. I’ll be honest, I’ve even been guilty of saying it once or twice. But do you ask mums to ‘babysit’ their own kids? No. Well the same applies for dads – so just don’t say dad and babysit in the same sentence (unless it is “Dad is going to organise someone to babysit!”).
4. “Your baby looks like the mum/dad.” I never thought this would be a big deal, and quite often I ask people what they think, but I know that this can offend lots of mums. Especially when comments such as, “they look so much like the dad, are they even yours?” are thrown around in jest. You may think you’re hilarious, but I can assure you, this mumma does not. She is probably thinking of things she can throw at you in her crazy, sleep-deprived state (which makes you say, “You look tired”).
5. “Just wait for the next 5/10/15 years…” This one I came across when I was racing through a grocery store with my screaming 6 week-old son. An older gentleman mentioned something along the lines of, “they don’t grow out of it for another 10 years”. I did a quick little chuckle and motored past. But as I thought about it (after my massive cry in the car), I realised that this was anything but encouraging. I am clearly having a bad day, and your way of providing a pick-me-up is to remind me that it’ll be like this for many years to come? Next time you think that is a good idea, don’t.
6. “You’re breastfeeding, right?” Breastfeeding is promoted as best feeding practice for babies, however many mums don’t – or can’t – breastfeed for a number of reasons. I know many mums who had to give up breastfeeding not by choice, and it upsets them to think that they can’t. Making a matter-of-fact statement about breastfeeding can be upsetting, especially in the early days and weeks when sleep deprivation and crazy post-pregnancy/postpartum hormones are running amuck. Whatever you do – do NOT follow up this statement (if the new mum is not breastfeeding) with a summary of why breastfeeding is best. It is more likely than not that the new mum doesn’t need to be reminded of this.
7. “Are they sleeping through the night yet?” (or basically, anything to do with sleep – just don’t). Just because your cousin’s brother-in-law’s best friend’s third child slept through the night from day one doesn’t mean all babies do. In fact, it can take anywhere from 6 months onwards for a baby to learn to settle themselves when they wake up. Most new mums don’t want to think about how their baby isn’t sleeping through, because they are still struggling to survive the sleep-deprivation and are unsure how long it will last. They don’t need false hope or discouragement at this stage.
8. “Here, I’ll help him/her stop crying.” While this can be helpful if the mum is flustered, exhausted, and wanting a break, I am a perfectionist and sensitive mum flooded with all kinds of (crazy) hormones. This type of comment really gets to me, because I am already worried about being a ‘good’ mum. I don’t like people assuming they can parent my child better than I can. I will usually ask for assistance when it is needed, or you can possibly word your sentence better, such as (“Would you like me to hold him/her for a bit?” Or, “Would you like a break?”). These options do not imply that you will solve the crying issue, and I will respond better to that.
9. “Your baby is so big! Small! Otheriwse!” Why do people feel the need to comment on the size of the baby? Unless I make a comment first (which I often do), some mums don’t like to hear that their child is too big or too small for their age (this is also true for pregnant women – there is no need to comment on the size of their bump!).
10. “You really should get out more!” My husband and I copped this early on after our son was born – before his 6-week vaccinations. Why do we need to get out more? Can’t we just continue battling for survival in the comfort of our house while our small son screams loudly and we all attempt to scrounge for sleep when we can?
11. Any comment about a new mums weight/figure. I’m sure this doesn’t need clarification, but most women are unhappy with their weight/shape, so just don’t make any comments.
Does this cancel out a large range of your options? Here are some you may like to use instead:
- How are you and the baby doing?
- Is there anything I can help you guys with?
- What is it like having a baby?
- What is your favourite thing about being a new mum?
What other thing have you heard since being a mum and thought these things you shouldn’t say to a new Mum?
Do you have any suggestions when it comes to what you’d like to hear as a new mum?
Wishing you all a wonderful day and if you’re struggling with your own motherhood expectations or looking for arts and craft ideas for your kids head over to the Finlee and Me blog as it’s filled with a variety of craft ideas, recipes, mental health related articles and more.
About the Author
Fi Morrison is a first-time mum to her beautiful, 5-month old baby boy. She is a trained primary school teacher and a (new) small-business owner. Fi blogs over at Mumma Morrison about all things motherhood-related, particularly life as a new mum, with recipes and activities for babies and kids coming soon to her (newly updated) blog.