Have you ever noticed how social etiquette is sometimes forgotten when talking to a new mum? Questions which ordinarily would be off-limits to everyday conversation seem to pop out of other people’s mouths without much thought behind them. These seemingly well-intentioned but ultimately unhelpful questions can open a floodgate of emotions for a new mum dealing with crazy hormones, sleep deprivation, and a tiny baby. Here are 10 questions to avoid asking a new mum at all costs.
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When are you due? If in doubt as to the state of her womb, just don’t ask! Avoid referring to her size, body shape, or general appearance, as asking her this is tantamount to calling her fat. Also, keep in mind that baby bellies tend to hang around for a while after the baby has been born, and it can be tricky distinguishing between a pregnant tummy and a post-pregnancy belly.
Did you tear or have to have stitches? This is definitely overstepping the line of “too personal”. Unless she’s a really close friend and quite comfortable sharing the intimate details of her baby’s birth, she’s probably not going to want to get into a discussion about her nether regions. Just don’t go there.
Did you have a natural birth? Whether or not she endured 12 hours of intense drug-free pain, decided on an epidural, or had a C-section, she’s a superhero! Having respect for her choices is more important than judging her. Childbirth is fraught with unexpected complications, often veering crazily from the most perfect birth plan, and can leave new mums feeling guilty when things don’t work out as planned.
So, when are you going to give this one a sibling? Most new mums are far too busy concentrating on their new baby to begin planning another one. So avoid piling on the pressure when she’s already feeling overwrought. Give her time to recover from this baby’s birth before you start bulldozing her into the next one!
Does you baby sleep through the night yet? Implying that she’s doing something wrong because her baby doesn’t sleep through the night can transform even the most relaxed mum into an overly paranoid crazy woman. Newborn babies wake every few hours to feed, and sleep deprivation for new mums is part of the journey. All babies are different and each one reaches these little milestones in their own time. And no, it’s not helpful to brag that your babies all slept through the night by six weeks of age. Just don’t mention it.
What do you get up to all day? Clearly you’ve never had a new baby! Her day will be taken up mostly with caring for her newborn, a full time job in itself. If she’s lucky, she’ll manage a shower and to brush her teeth. If she’s really lucky, she may even have time to tackle her domestic responsibilities. Hey, how about you offer to come over and help her “do nothing all day”?
Are you breastfeeding? Aside from verging on too personal, some women can’t breastfeed, decide not to, or are struggling to. Instead of sending her on a guilt trip, offer support for something that, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t come naturally to all women.
Is that baby eating enough? Unless you’re a doctor, nurse, or trained health professional, you shouldn’t be asking this question. If she’s already feeling anxious about breastfeeding, you’ll just be giving her something else to worry about. Babies who are thriving and growing are eating well.
Is he/she a good baby? Look, there are no “good” or “bad” babies, just babies. And they’re all different! As much as we love them, they can be challenging, complicated, frustrating and demanding. Avoid labelling her baby with something as narrow and judgemental as “good” or “bad”.
Are you getting much sleep? Probably not! Most new mums are up every few hours with short bouts of sleep in between. Offering help in the form of cooking a meal or tidying her house is a practical means of supporting her, or better yet, offer to look after her baby and her house while she takes to her bed for some uninterrupted zzzzzzzzzz time!
photo credit for this article Shannon McIntyre at Little Life Studio: https://www.facebook.com/littlelifestudioNZ