When you finally give birth to your little one after nine long months, it seems the baby isn’t the only thing you get to take home with you. You’ll also be blessed with suggestions and advice, often unwarranted, from a barrage of friends, family, and complete strangers. Among the helpful hands and nice comments, there are some things that new mums are fed up of hearing by the end of the first week, and uttering any of these around a mother ought to be grounds for banishment for at least a year.
#1: “Sleep When the Baby Sleeps”
This little gem actually starts well before the baby comes, from those annoying people who tell you to get some sleep before the baby arrives as if you can store your sleep up in some kind of bank. While the idea of sleeping when the baby sleeps is nice, it completely discounts your need to do other things such as eat, socialise, watch TV, do some cleaning, and generally just enjoying solitude without a little baby attached to you.
#2: “Don’t Spoil the Baby!”
These are usually from the old school of thought which said that babies need to be bred tough. You might hear that you’re spoiling the baby if you pick them up when they cry, rock them to sleep, cuddle them too long, or do just about anything that’s seen as nurturing and caring.
#3: “Don’t Feel Guilty”
We love to tell this to all mothers, and while the sentiment is nice, it’s just plain impossible to take the advice on board. Mothers seem to be hardwired with some form of guilt always hanging around, and things they used to enjoy now feel selfish.
#4: “When Are You Trying for Number Two?”
Your poor body has barely recovered from the last pregnancy and painful birth, and people are already querying when you’re going for the next round. This is a favourite for people to ask, without giving any thought to just how personal the question really is.
#5: “You’re on Maternity Leave for 12 Months? That’s A Long Holiday!”
You will usually only hear this one from someone who has never had a child before or someone who has very little to do with helping out at home. The mere thought of comparing maternity leave and caring for an infant to anything resembling a holiday is laughable, as the distinct lack of umbrella cocktails and sandy beaches will prove.
#6: “They Don’t Look Anything Like You”
Yes, just what you want to hear after spending nine months lugging this thing around and then the added time of getting them out. New babies usually don’t look much like anything except for a new baby, so try to keep comments about their appearance to yourself.
#7: “Boy, you look tired!”
Thank you, Captain Obvious. The people who make remarks about how tired you look and don’t immediately follow it up with an offer to do some housework or watch the baby while you take a quick snooze should be swiftly shown to the front door.
#8: “Is He/She Sleeping Through the Night?”
The second new babies are born, people are trying to get them to sleep through the night like an adult. However, anyone who’s raised children before will know it can take years before they actually sleep through the night (with some lucky exceptions). Comments like this only add unwanted pressure when it’s just not needed.
#9: “Cherish Every Moment”
These comments have good intent. However, the thought that you should be optimistically loving every second of motherhood is a joke. There are dirty nappies, weeks and months running on an hour of sleep at a time, and babies with reflux or a common cold who just can’t stop crying. It’s okay to not love every minute and it would be frankly weird if you did, so don’t set yourself up for something that’s just not realistic.
#10: “If you’re Stressed, the Baby Will Be Stressed”
This is one of the worst pieces of advice for a stressed mother because the comment alone will cause more stress. While it might be true that babies can pick up on your emotions, according to a recent study, pointing this out to a tired and weary mother won’t do anything to improve her mood. Instead, make offers to help where you can and give them some time out to regain their cool.
By far the best thing you can do for a new mother is to keep your mouth shut and do everything possible to make their lives a little easier. Wash some dishes, fold a few baskets of laundry, or offer to take the baby while they get a rare hot shower in peace. For more advice on the joys of motherhood and how to make a more enjoyable experience for mum, click here to read the rest of the Peachymama blog.