After the birth of my first son, I reached out to some of my other friends who had recently had children and asked how they wanted to be supported as new moms.
One way to support new moms is to reserve judgmental, misinformed or well-meaning-but-missed-the-mark comments. Not sure what those are? Well, I’ve got your covered with this list of 19 things to never say to a new mom.
Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list but you’ll find most new mamas (first timers or not) don’t want to hear these things.
19 Things To Never Say To a New Mom
1. You’ll lose the baby weight fast.
First of all, that body just grew an entire human being! Second of all, mind your business.
Women go through so much to grow a child. A process which takes ten months, by the way. So why does “lose the baby weight” need to be a priority? Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight whether you want to lose weight or not.
I think we should stop commenting on other people’s bodies all together. You never have any idea what is going on behind the scenes of someone’s life and in their minds and what weight issues they have struggled with.
2. You look tired.
I wonder why? What exactly is sleep deprivation supposed to look like? These dark circles under my eyes are so chic, I know. Just as our post-birth bodies aren’t up for discussion, neither are our exhausted expressions.
Even Superwoman would not survive consecutive sleepless nights tending to a little human without forming bags under her eyes. Please lower your expectations.
Maybe instead tell her you’re going to Starbucks or the grocery store and ask her what she’d like.
3. He/she doesn’t look like you.
Or “he/she is a spitting image of their dad” or “he/she looks like a family member.”
Or anything about their looks that isn’t a safe compliment like how adorable, gorgeous or beautiful they are. Some words are better off staying as thoughts.
4. Are you breastfeeding?
For some reason, everyone has an opinion on how you feed your baby. But it is a loaded question.
This could make women who don’t produce enough breast milk very uncomfortable. Others simply don’t agree with the saying, “breast is beast.” Other moms enjoy the freedom of formula feeding. And even still, other moms choose to exclusively pump.
Breastmilk, donor milk or formula… the truth is that fed is best.
5. Maybe you should avoid alcohol for now.
Ahem. Experts agree that an occasional drink while breastfeeding is fine
But on top of that, how dare you imply a new mom is negligent because of a glass of wine or a beer.
6. So how is your vacation going (AKA maternity leave)?
Changing diapers. Cleaning up spit up. Folding laundry. Making dinner. Washing dishes. Making everything baby-safe. Doctors appointments. Stopping crying. Sleeping two hours at a time. Rinse and repeat.
Maternity (and paternity) leave is not a vacation. It’s a challenging time that involves caring for a post-birth body, a newborn, a home, and possibly other children… all at the time. It’s not easy and never will be. And it certainly isn’t a vacation.
Mother’s, whether a working mother or a stay at home mother, don’t every truly get to have a vacation. A piece of your heart is now living outside of your body – and you can never truly detach from that.
7. What’s it like “down there” after the birth?
Yes, I was actually asked this once.
Some women are happy to share their post-birth experiences but some women are still too close to having given birth to be on the other side of it. It’s something she might be worried and sensitive about. So don’t ask!
8. I remember when my child was that age. Time flies.
This is a well-meaning comment, I’m sure, but with all the stress and anxiety that new motherhood entails, we do not need to be told to cherish every moment. To blink or we might miss our kid growing up. Some moments are hard, especially when you’re in the thick of it.
I remember when my first son was a few months old and his dad had just gone back to work after paternity leave. I was sitting on the couch with him, completely unsure of what to do. It’s a mix of emotions when you’re holding a sleeping baby, knowing it won’t last forever but also wishing you could have that hour to yourself while they sleep in the crib. I don’t need to be reminded of how fast time goes, especially when trying to mentally cope with moments like that.
9. Anything about the baby’s name.
Have a cousin you hate with the same name? Keep ya mouth shut. If you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say anything at all. When it comes to their name, your opinion really isn’t necessary.
10. There’s nothing like a mother-baby bond, is there?
This can feel like a kick in the gut for new moms who experience the mood swings, crying spells and bouts of anxiety that come with postpartum “baby blues,” depression, and anxiety.
Many moms aren’t instantly “in love” with thier babies. Sometimes it takes a few days, weeks or months to adjust to the instant responsibility of being a sole provider for another life.
This question can be shame-inducing for a parent struggling to form a bond with their baby – or more seriously, facing postpartum depression and anxiety.
11. When are you planning your next child?
Do you really think this is on my mind right now? Also, maybe it’s never, because we’ve struggled to conceive or we’re happy with one. A second child is hardly on a new mom’s radar. Please be less intrusive.
12. You’re spoiling him/her! You don’t need to hold them all the time.
Tell a new mom it’s healthy to leave her baby to cry or that they hold them too much. If a newborn is crying, it’s likely because they’re cold or hungry, have a dirty diaper, are in pain or just want to be near their parents.
Moms do not need to be told we’re doing something wrong by simply making our babies feel safe, secure and loved. And we sure don’t have the energy or obligation to explain this.
Your baby has spent their whole life inside of you — why would they want to be apart from you once they’re on the outside?
13. I did that with my child and it was fine.
This and similar comments are yet another form of unsolicited advice. Every baby is different. Please don’t shower me with passive aggressive or negative comments about how you think I’m doing it wrong. Chances are I probably think your parenting style and methods was outdated and lazy… but I’m going to keep that comment to myself.
14. When can we go out for dinner? You could just bring the baby!
My son was the most wonderful addition to my world that I could have hoped for. It also signaled the end of a busy social life – at least for a while. Once my son turned six months old, his bedtime was (and still is ) 7pm. Which means unless someone is at our home with him while he is sleeping, we are home too.
Please don’t remind a new mom how easy it once was to make dinner plans on a whim. Also, don’t underestimate the difficulty in bringing a baby to a restaurant and actually getting to eat the meal before it goes cold. Parents are probably crossing all of their fingers that their baby doesn’t have a crying fit in the middle of dinner.
The opposite assumption that it is simple to find a reliable and trustworthy babysitter can be just as offensive. There are very few people most parents trust leaving their kids with. And it’s not as easy as it seems to find childcare.
15. Let me hold the baby.
Please don’t assume that new parents want you to hold their infant. Not only are their immune systems not fully developed yet, but the anxiety and stress can be a lot for new parents. If they want you to hold their child, they’ll offer.
If you do want to offer help, offer to cook, clean or to bring a meal by. Managing the laundry for a few loads or watching the baby in the bassinet so mom can shower or get a few hours of sleep is worth its weight in gold. They’ll be plenty of time later for you to hold the baby.
16. Was it planned?
Please consider how you’d feel if you were asked whether your own existence was an accident before uttering these words. It doesn’t matter if it was planned or not. What matters is that a child is loved and cared for.
17. Sleep when the baby sleeps.
No offense but sleep when the baby sleeps is the worst advice known to humankind. Yes the early days are hard, but when do you expect moms to shower? Eat? Take care of their bodies? As a new mama, this is truly the last thing I wanted to hear.
Too often we let parents neglect their own needs in favor a the baby’s needs.
18. Next time you have a new baby…
Please don’t assume there will be a next time. You have no idea what it took to get to this point. Small humans are a gift that some people struggle desperately for. Don’t be the person that reminds a new mom of that.
19. It’s fine, babies cry!
Yes babies cry… because they need something or someone. Whether it’s crying from hunger, pain, tiredness or needing comfort, don’t tell a new mom it’s okay to let her baby cry. Tell her she’s doing a good job or an amazing job taking care of a new human.
The bottom line is that if you’re unsure if a comment is appropriate, it likely isn’t. Be positive, supportive and kind. Remember that a new mom’s identity has changed overnight.
New mothers don’t need rude comments and unsolicited opinions hurled at them. The sheer accomplishment of birthing and caring for a new bundle of joy is one to be celebrated and appreciated, not downplayed or questioned.
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