7 Things NOT to Say to a New Mother (Plus 3 Things You Should Say)

Black and white image of mom holding baby

Thing #1 NOT to Say to a New Mother 

Working mom holding a sippy cup

Are you going back to work?

Unless you’re the boss of her (and I’m guessing you’re not) this is a loaded question and it’s easy to imply there is judgment involved, whether or not you actually feel that way

{Continued: Thing #2}

Thing #2 NOT to Say to a New Mother  

Baby sleeping in a stroller while a black cat looks at her

Is she a good baby?

Seriously? “Well, she has fangs and killed our cat while we were sleeping, but other than that, she seems really sweet.” There are no good or bad babies

 {Continued: Thing #3}

Thing #3 NOT to Say to a New Mother 

Twin babies laughing on a blanket

He’s so cute.

When “he” is wearing a dress. Sitting in a pink car seat. Consider it equally true that a baby with a lot of hair, chubby cheeks, and long eyelashes is not necessarily a girl. If you’re unsure, stick with safe. “What beautiful eyes!” or “Your child is adorable!” both work.

{Continued: Thing #4}

Thing #4 NOT to Say to a New Mother 

Baby nursing

Are you nursing?

Here’s the thing. If this person is your friend and they want to talk about it, they will. If this person is a stranger, quit asking about their boobs and what they do with them. Especially if you’re a dude. It comes off as creepy.

If you want to offer support, a better bet is – “I know a great lactation consultant, if you’re ever interested” or “Those early days of non-stop nursing were hard for me. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you!” If they want to continue the conversation, you’ve left it open for them to do so.

{Continued: Thing #5}

Thing #5 NOT to Say to a New Mother 

Mom with newborn

You shouldn’t hold him so much. He’ll be spoiled.

I’m going to go ahead and say it: You CAN NOT spoil an infant by holding him too much. He was held 24/7 for the almost 10 months he was hanging out in the uterus, so anything done now is actually cutting back as far as he is concerned.

{Continued: Thing #6}

Thing #6 NOT to Say to a New Mother 

Woman feeling tired with an iron in the foreground

Just wait, it gets worse.

Really, Dr. Doom? Because in the midst of sleepless nights, feeding challenges, spit-up stained everything, and no sex, that’s really what a new parent needs to hear, right? Your toddler/teen/40-something child may be giving you issues, but there’s no need to take it out on the new mom.

{Continued: Thing #7}

Thing #7 NOT to Say to a New Mother 

my belly

You’re having another already?

Once you have a baby, you may be one of the lucky few who leave the hospital in normal jeans and hit the gym to “tone up” since you’ve already lost the baby weight after your 6 week check. For the rest of us, delivering the baby means dropping the 7-9 lbs of baby + placenta + amniotic fluid we were carrying, but still carting a little extra cushioning and a squishy, looks-like-you’re-five-months-pregnant belly. This stage can last anywhere from a few days to a few months. If a woman already has a child with her, make no assumptions about whether that belly is vacant or currently occupied. Trust me.

{Continued: Thing #1 You CAN Say}

Thing #1 You CAN Say to a New Mother

Yummy pasta with red sauce

I’d love to bring dinner by. Which night is good for you?

Don’t tell a new parent to call you when they need help – chances are, they won’t. Instead, offer up a specific way to help them, and ask for a time that’s good for them. That hot meal will be appreciated.

{Continued: Thing #2 You CAN Say}

Thing #2 You CAN Say to a New Mother

Woman feeling frazzled

I remember feeling totally overwhelmed during this phase.

Sometimes it’s nice to hear that you aren’t the only one struggling.

{Continued: Thing #3 You CAN Say}

Thing #3 You CAN Say to a New Mother

Woman speaker with black background
LCSTRAVELBUGGIN, Flickr

Nothing.

Just be there to listen. Let her talk about her struggles, her joys, her fears. Laugh with her. Cry with her. Do her dishes for her. Just be there.

{Related: Baby Proofing: 3 Unexpected Dangers Around The Home}

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7 Things NOT to Say to a New Mother (Plus 3 Things You Should Say)

Sara McTigue is a secret agent, cupcake chef, award winning author, photographer, and PTA mom. At least, that is how things look in her mind. When she isn’t testing the bounds of her imagination, she is a mom to three amazing and hilariously funny children, wife to a charming and handsome man, and thoroughly addicted to reading. With a BS in English Education and an MA in English Literature, words – and their ability to shape our lives and thoughts – are an everyday fascination. Af ... More

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41 comments

  1. Profile photo of pumpkin pumpkin says:

    i can totally relate! im 8 months right now and although my doctor swears im average sized for being almost 33 weeks along, i still have people all the time tell me i cant be that far along…. im sorry, im trying to keep in somewhat shape during this (which isnt too hard being a server haha) not trying to get into a new shape… which would be round… :p

  2. Profile photo of Nanny Nanny says:

    The thing I hated MOST was when someone thought they could touch my belly without asking, and then getting advice from a MAN…really? When’s the last time you gave birth?

  3. Profile photo of Skye Skye says:

    I appreciate the one about not asking if the baby is " good." I have been blessed with relatively easy babies, but I may use the fangs and cat response or something similar with the next one just because it is such an awful question!

    And I can REALLY relate to number seven, althoughmy situation was a little different. My inlaws and parents came to visit 5days after our last baby was born. At one point my father-in-law pointed to my stomach and said "You’ve already had the baby so why is your stomach still sticking out? Is that your uterus?" I was so mad I just said "No!" and turned and walked away! I was feeling like "Yeah, so I still look 6 months pregnant, but I was pregnant for 41 Weeks and gave birth to a 8 1/2 pound baby 5 days ago. What’s your excuse buddy?!?!?!

  4. Profile photo of nichole nichole says:

    i had the same thing. ide be out at a store or something, baby in pink car seat, pink blankets, pink cloths, heck even one time "daddys little princess" on her shirt, and she still got called a him…. some people are just ignorant.

  5. Profile photo of Ashley Ashley says:

    My daughter was born with hair, but not very much. Even at 15 months, she still doesn’t have that much, so people assume she’s a boy. I had one woman at a doctors office make a comment and said "he" so I nicely said something back but said "she" so she knew my daughter was a girl. She then said "Oh I’m so sorry! I always hated when people did that to my kids…. BUT she really does look like a boy." I was so stunned that I just had to walk away. My kid was dressed in pink from head to toe… sorry she wasn’t born with pigtails but she’s a GIRL!

  6. Profile photo of amanda amanda says:

    Melissa i was the same way before my daughter i was 140 and when i was pregnant i was only 155 im 5’9. When i was in labor and the nurse was walking me to my room the nurse kept saying how far along i was and when we got to the room she asked if i really were pregnant. I finally sad yes i am im two weeks over due im being induced the next day. (the nurse was pregnant 4 months and she looked like a blimp too.) Just because im still fit when im pregnant unlike you doesnt mean im not pregnant. I never speak to anyone like that but she was making me sp mad when i was in labor. My daughter came out 9 pounds too

  7. Profile photo of emily emily says:

    I totally Agree! My husband and I are expecting our second, If I see a new mom who just looks exhausted, or recognize the I’m not gonna cry expression I tell her It Gets BETTER! You’ll find your groove and tomorrow this will just be a memory, take it a day at a time. I don’t understand the desire of "veteran" parents to try and scare the crap out of parents to be. Offer some advice and support when you’re the experienced momma. 🙂

  8. Profile photo of dragonlayre dragonlayre says:

    Totally hate the "call me if you need help." My friends and family all said that to me, but when I called for help, and I only do it very rarely, everyone suddenly had too many plans. If was tough the first week my husband went back to work, he only had two weeks off after delivery, and I had told one friend I’d pay her to come over and watch my baby so I could rest or get chores done. Not one day did she come over, even thou she said she would. I did not have any visitors for the first 2 months! Talk about hard, now everything feels easy after that!

  9. Profile photo of Aiden Aiden says:

    I totally agree with you. You have ppl because they had a rough pregnancy they automatically think yours will be like theirs

  10. I’m sick of everyone telling me that it gets worse. My pregnancy has been wonderful thus far! Yes, I’m more tired now at 7 months pregnant than I was at 5 months and I pee a lot more now too, but that doesn’t make things worse.

    The other thing that should be on your top comments to never tell a new mom – "Are you sure you’re really that far along?!" I totally HATE it when someone tells me I’m too tiny or that I’m not eating enough. I normally say that my doctor says I’m progressing just fine and my son is at all the right measurements for my pregnancy. And then I sometimes get – "Are you sure your doctor knows what he’s talking about?" Hello – he’s the one with the medical degree!

    Thank you for these tips. I especially like the one where you ask what time is good for the mom to come over. I continue to get "call me if you need me" from everyone. Of course I need you – not so much now – but after my son is born I will.

  11. man, I hope my hormones settle down before someone says something to me after birth. I’m snappy now but I’m sure my moods could be worse.

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