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13 things you should never say to a new mum

Being a new mum is difficult enough without people pushing their own worst experiences onto you. It’s a weird thing, becoming a parent. It really…

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Being a new mum is difficult enough without people pushing their own worst experiences onto you. It’s a weird thing, becoming a parent. It really is like being in a club (I’ve send this many times, I know!). And in this club, people often say what they want to you and it usually has a negative, patronisng or cynical undertone.

First of all, we all have different births, different babies and different circumstances. Some women are up and ready to go out for a coffee and walk soon after birth, others are in incredible pain. Some babies sleep great, others are not so much. We have different levels of support and some of us are more susceptible to postnatal depression than others.

But there seems to be a few things that everyone seems to ask that can make you feel a bit ugh! It seems to be normal by society standards and totally fine to ask these questions!

If I’m perfectly honest, I’ve probably asked my fair share of dumb questions to friends before I had my own baby and realised how intense it felt, how the hormones make you feel more sensitive (or distraught!) than normal. Sometimes we just need to stop, think and be a bit kinder to our new mum friends. Maybe kinder isn’t the right word – just more aware of what we say and how it is percieved.

We are conditioned to say many common things on autopilot. It’s like when you see a friend and go through the ‘Hi, how are you – fine, and you‘ dialogue which is just automatic. We say these things without thinking of what they might mean or be perceived by new parents.

So, let’s look at some of the common things you shouldn’t say to a new mother!

Things you should never say to a new mother

Is he a good baby?

ALL BABIES ARE GOOD. When we ask this, we usually mean – does the baby cry a lot or does the baby sleep a lot.

Some babies cry more than others, especially if they are refluxy or colicly. Almost all babies cry and have a witching hour (or hours!). It doesn’t mean they’re bad.

Also some babies sleep better than others. Most need to be held close during the fourth trimester, some are fine with being put down. Some babies need feeding to sleep, others drift off themselves. Some wake frequently, others are great at linking their sleep cycles.

This doesn’t mean they are bad babies at all!

Sleep when the baby sleeps

Gosh, I wish I could have slept when Leo slept. He contact naps with me and I was to afraid to co-sleep for the first couple of months so I just sat there, exhausted, with him in my arms. Even if I could have put him down I would have a million other things I wanted to do. Like have a shower, have a cup of tea, eat a warm meal, wash my hair. These are very basic things but it’s hard to do with a velcro baby.

You’ll never sleep again!

Just what an exhausted mother needs to hear! These type of comments start coming during pregnancy when you struggle to sleep. Comments reminding you ‘if you think you’re tired now, just wait’ or ‘your body is just practising for when the baby is here‘.

Like tiredness is a skill I wish to practice?! Please stop.

You need to get them into a routine

This is outdated advice and usually includes overfeeding a baby with a bottle, increasing the amount of milk and then increasing the time between feeds. Babies are biologically programmed to feed little and often. After a couple of months you may notice a bit of consistnacy with wake windows and such as your baby naturally settles into a routine. I remember Leo would be awake for around 90 minutes then need a nap. I’ve always been very baby led. I feed on demand and I would try to get him to nap when he displayed signals of being tired.

I’ve found a lot of people try to tell me to get him into a routine, mostly the older generation who did the whole feeds every 4 hours and cry it out. These methods were the done thing 30 years ago but we know much more now about the biological norms and needs of a newborn. Please, just follow their lead and respond to their needs!

Are you breastfeeding?

This can be such a personal question – it’s not okay to ask! I would only talk about this if the mother brought the subject up first. As we know, I’m very big on raising awareness about information on breastfeeding to allow women to make informed choices!

When I find out a friend is pregnant, I usually just say something like ‘I spent a lot of time researching about breastfeeding before Leo was born so let me know if you have any questions or need any support around how you decide to feed your baby’! Then I just leave it unless they want to talk about it.

You don’t have enough milk for them

It can take around 3-5 days for your milk to come in, so baby feeds little and often. They get colostrum which is everything they need (remember breastfed babies can lose up to 10% of their weight in the first few days, do not be alarmed!).

Also babies cluster feed and fuss at the breast for many reasons. During growth spurts, when teething, to up your milk supply – so it’s normal for a baby to be on and off and on and off the breast. It’s very rare for a women not to produce enough milk.

This is usually due to something else such as medication, an underlying health condition, missing hunger cues due to using a dummy, supplementing with formula and missing feeds so your body desn’t get the signal to make more milk.

If you are worried, monitor wet and dirty nappies and ask your health visitor to weigh your baby.

The housework can wait!

When you’re running out of clean clothes and there’s no more clean mugs, housework cannot wait! Some things can indeed wait, but some tasks need doing!

Mostly things like washing up, laundry, changing bedcovers, emptying bins and recycling. Why not offer to help them out rather than saying it can wait! Wash up for them, or hold the baby so they can put a load of washing on or have a shower and put clean clothes on.

Remember that these things can improve mental health massively!

Can I come and visit?

Labour is a massive trauma on your body and having a baby is a total shock to your system. Please keep in mind that a friend might have said ‘you can come and visit as soon as the baby is born’ before the birth, but might need some time to adjust and be in their newborn bubble. Please don’t guilt or beg!

Leo’s birth knocked me sideways for weeks and I was not expecting to feel that terrible after!

You look exhausted!

Yeah, there’s nothing I can do about that really! Thanks for pointing it out.

Just wait until they are toddlers!

I literally needed to to belive that after the newborn stage, it get’s better! All kids are different and some are ‘easier’ than others. But mostly, each stage gets harder in some ways and easier in others.

But it does get more rewarding.

I couldn’t put my child in nursery

Not everyone has the choice, it’s a real privlidge to be financially secure enough stay at home with your child. And some people need to work as they enjoy their job and need that time to be someone other than mum! Or sometimes you have to pay maternity pay back unless you return to work for a set amount of time.

He looks like his dad, not you!

I literally spent 9 months feeling sick every day, gagging at phantom smells in my kitchen and enduring 36 hours of labour for you to say my baby doesn’t look like me? You need to leave.

Will you have another?

Still processing the pure shock of pregnancy, birth, having a newborn and being a mum to decide that one so don’t ask!

My baby did X at this age

All babies are different. Does it matter? By the time they’re all in school it’s not going to matter who crawled first.

Have you had any of these things said to you? How did it make you feel?

23 comments

  1. Giiiirrrlll, I’m due my baby in 15 days and this post could not be more relevant to me than right now. I’m not even officially a mum yet and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve already been told to sleep when the baby sleeps & that the housework can wait!! Thank you for speaking out about these things as I think sometimes people think they are being helpful by saying these things but actually it’s quite patronising and can actually add pressure to new mums! So good on you for writing about this.

    Ps your bambino is gorgeous I am so smitten!

    Lots of love
    Charlene McElhinney
    https://charlenemcelhinney.co.uk

    1. Congrats! You will figure out your own routine in time. But just enjoy your baby when they arrive – it’s such a special time!

  2. Oooh the whole ‘my baby can do this, that, and the other blah, blah, blah!’ That was my favourite. Who cares! LOL. 🙁 Oh and ‘You’ll never sleep again?’ As if! I love my sleep. I believe getting enough sleep is better for me and my daughter, coz I’m a better person when I’ve had a good nights rest, Have you ever had this one: ‘say goodbye to going to the gym?’ Why does having a baby mean I can’t work out???? Just raise your baby to the best of your ability, and nod and smile when people judge you. Parents know best. Love your pictures BTW. Is that your beautiful babba? Great article. These tips are really going to raise some awareness. 🙂

    Lindsay | http://thetravelvine.blog

    1. Haha yeah, I got the gym one too! I might edit it into this post actually. The thing is, we all have priorities of things we love to do, we just have to compromise! Like I struggle to make the time to go to the gym for 1 hour 30 mins and then have a 2 hour piano practice session daily like before. But I get on the piano on the weekend workout 3 times a week. It’s doable, just a bit more complicated!

  3. Yeah! I totally agree. These statements sound nosy and nobody should say this to a new mom, mom to be, bride to be, and even single ladies. Most Malay people has the habit of saying these things to people. So hurtful!

  4. I FELT this post! My little one just turned 4 months old yesterday and I’ve had all of these things said to me…it can be really upsetting. The statements that stuck out to me the most are “sleep when the baby sleeps,” “are you breastfeeding,” and “the child looks like her father…” I wish I could sleep when the baby sleeps lol but in my mind, that’s primetime to get things done! Breastfeeding was a sensitive topic for me. I didn’t produce enough milk and was constantly dealing with unsolicited opinions about how “breast was best.” NO. Fed is what’s best! And I still here that my daughter only looks like her father. I beg to differ lol.

    Thank you for sharing these!

    1. 4 months old! How sweet =). I’m sorry you’ve had some of these upsetting comments. I’ve just been on your Instagram and your baby looks 100% like you!

  5. The “you don’t have enough milk for them ” comment annoys me. It mostly comes from parents who formula fed their kids. I’m not bashing formula feeding because we combination fed.

  6. I love this! Like you said, I’ve said/asked some things that I didn’t realize as insensitive until I became a mom + the questions were directed at me. It can be hard for people to just simply say nothing. It’s hard to be respectful when questions/statements like this come up. Thank you for bringing attention to it. It’s usually never intentional but can hurt the same.

  7. I don’t have a child, and I applaud all women who have kids! It’s really hard, but rewarding work. Some of these were extremely obvious as things not to say, and others were really interesting! While I’ve never said any of these things (I don’t have kids, so I do more listening with my mom friends), I still want to make sure I never offend or annoy them. Great post! xx

    Melina | http://www.melinaelisa.com

  8. As someone without children who never plans to have them, it’s helpful for me to read this, since several of my friends are mamas with newborns or toddlers. It’s good to know how to respond to where they’re at – really meet them where they are, rather than accidentally saying something that isn’t beneficial. Thanks for the advice!

  9. Racked my brains to see if I’d asked any of my mum friends these questions and luckily I don’t think I have haha!
    Amy x
    callmeamy.co.uk

  10. I do not have any kids, but I can certainly learn from posts like these how to be more sensitive and respectful of new mothers! I know my aunts have had experience with this type of questions, especially when joining ‘mum’s groups’. “He did X at this age” is the biggest one that gets tossed around at the meetings and this surprised my aunt, as she was looking for peer support, not pressure.

    Thanks so much for sharing another lovely post!

  11. Love love love this! Everyone needs it! I’m not a parent yet, but I have seen the pain of friends who have had these things said to them, it’s so important for everyone to read this!

  12. I literally laughed out loud at “I literally spent 9 months feeling sick every day, gagging at phantom smells in my kitchen and enduring 36 hours of labor for you to say my baby doesn’t look like me? You need to leave.” The sass is BRILLIANT – but so accurate. I don’t know why people think it’s okay to say certain things! x

    mia // https://miasdiyprojects.com/

  13. SO glad you mentioned ‘are you going to have another?’ at the end. They’re all pretty bad things to say to a new mum, but that was the one that pissed and still does piss me off most. My MIL actually thought I was pregnant again a few weeks ago…. Because I wasn’t drinking coffee and needed to buy the next size up jeans. Like honestly?!?! We’re judged on so much whether we have kids or not. It’s crazy. I feel like I ask very little now, I just sort of say I’m there for help / advice, but babies are babies, they have no rules and hold no prisoners. Haha.

    Claire.X
    http://www.clairemac.co.uk

  14. The routine comment winds me up, I always went with baby-led with everything and it worked perfectly for us. I sometimes still get it now and it’s so annoying, loads of kids Ru’s age need routines for sleep etc but my child sleeps lots and so I’m pretty relaxed with our evenings.

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