In light of three of my friends being pregnant with their first babies, I’ve been thinking about all the things that people say to new mommies. And mostly, it’s just plain rude and nobody’s business. Mostly because, guess what, it’s not your child. You are not the one who isn’t getting any sleep. You aren’t constantly worrying that your child may not be getting enough food or having enough shitty nappies. Your friend doesn’t need your opinion on how she should deal with this crazy new schedule and demanding boss. All a new mother needs is love and support from her partner / family / friends and a couple of those single serving booze sachets stashed in her feeding bra. For her of course, not the baby. So I’ve compiled a short list of questions you should NEVER ask a new mom, and if you have any emotional intelligence at all, you’ll stay away from them:
1. When are you due?
Ok, there is an obvious reason for this. Mostly because you don’t just magically pop back to normal after having a baby like “Pregnant Barbie” who’s stomach rotated. Or Brooke from Bold and the Beautiful. You still look like a pregnant woman for AT LEAST 4 weeks after the birth. I speak from personal experience here *cringe*, but please, PLEASE unless you see her actually CROWNING, do NOT EVER ask a woman when she is due. Especially while rubbing her belly. It will all just end in tears. Believe me.
2. Did you give birth naturally?
Um, excuse me? Why does it matter to you? I know it’s like that sick compulsion us humans have to gawk at car crashes as we drive past them. But please, it really is none of your business how Mommy chose to bring Best and Brightest into this world. No matter if it was natural, caesarean or egg laying, it does not take away from the fact that this once mere mortal woman has performed the miracle of growing another human inside her and birthing it. Successfully. Just congratulate her and give her a hug. That’s all that needs to be said and done.
3. Are you breastfeeding?
Unless I whip my boob out and start feeding the squawking baby in front of you, this is also a question that you have no business asking. It is a personal choice first of all. Secondly, some women no matter how hard they try, just cannot get breastfeeding right. It is a difficult thing to get the hang of. Never mind if you are not producing enough milk. Women who can’t, for any reason, get it right already feel like a failure. There’s no need for you to keep rubbing salt in the wound.
4. Are you getting enough sleep?
This, by far, is the most ludicrous question anyone could ask a new parent. Because the answer is no. Unless baby is sleeping in 8 hours shifts already, and if that is the case, believe me, Mommy would be BRAGGING about it before you even had the chance to ask! Sleep deprivation starts during pregnancy with regular trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The body is an amazing machine. This is it’s way of getting you ready for interrupted sleep cycles. Then baby arrives and you’re literally shoving your boob or a bottle into it’s face about a hundred times a night. Eventually Best and Brightest starts sleeping through the night, but he is still wide awake and ready to play at 5am every morning. Especially when you indulged in seven more glasses of merlot than you should have the night before. At least when your child reaches their teens you will be able to sleep as late as you like on weekends again, but only because you’re trying to make up for the hours you lay awake worried out of your mind about what they were doing and who they were doing it with.
Basically, once you have a child, you will never have a good night’s sleep again. My mom can attest to this as her kids are all fully grown, but now she lies awake at night worrying about her kids, their partners and their kids. It’s a never ending vicious cycle. The things you do for love.
5. I can’t believe you just had a baby, you look awesome!
Ok this isn’t a question, but it’s still incredibly infuriating and shouldn’t ever be said. Just say, “You look awesome”. Then it remains what it was meant be, a compliment. Otherwise it is just a reminder that you are dog tired, have refrigerated cabbage leaves shoved inside your bra, Dr Whites the thickness of the yellow pages in your panties and vomit down the back of your shirt.
So really, my advice when your friend has a baby, don’t storm her at the hospital with probing questions about the birth and the ins and outs of breastfeeding, unless of course she brings it up first. Don’t throw a surprise party for her when she brings Best and Brightest home for the first time. Give her and baby (and if she has a partner / hubby) their space. This time is super special for new families. They need to figure out where they all stand and what their new roles are. The last thing they need is someone invading their space every day giving unsolicited advice on how to latch. When Mommy is ready for visitors she will let you know. Then go over, tell her she looks amazing, and dear God please, let the only question that comes out of your mouth be, “Can I get you anything to drink?”, and don’t you DARE judge her if she asks for champagne rather than herbal tea. She’s been drinking enough of that shit for long enough. Mamma needs a stiff one.