Since Sasha was born, and really since I started to show during my pregnancy, people would say things to me that would literally make my jaw drop. There are certain things that really started to upset me as a pregnant person and new mother. This really got me thinking about how I approach other women and how I communicate with others in general.
Some of the items on this list should be common sense, some are a bit more intuitive once you are a mom, and some are things that nobody thinks of until they’re called out on it. Here’s my list of things people say to pregnant women or new moms that are just plain WRONG.
“You look great for just having a baby!”
People need to stop making comments about women’s bodies. My body and how it looks is not yours to make a comment about. If I ask you, tell me the truth, but if I don’t, stop commenting on my body.
Within a span of three hours, I was actually told I looked great for having a baby, and the opposite… I swear to god. One Saturday morning, my mom and I ran into someone and the woman flat out said to me, “Jessica, you gained a few pounds.” This was less than 2 months after I had given birth. You can imagine how I felt hearing this. I walked away from the situation after defending myself and saying, “Well, yes, I just had a baby two months ago.”
But why did I even need to say that? Comments like these just show how poor-mannered people are. Don’t judge the appearance of a new mother and definitely don’t make comments on it.
“You’re so tiny!” or “You’re so big!”
Weight gain during pregnancy is an incredibly sensitive topic for women. Understanding that our bodies are changing and growing is hard. Hearing that you’re tiny as a pregnant person may make a mother worry that she’s not gaining enough weight and leave her wondering if her baby is developing properly. Hearing she’s huge may be upsetting for a variety of reasons. Some women may embrace weight gain, while others fear gestational diabetes, suffer from eating disorders, or are having a very hard time coming to terms with their changing bodies.
Again, please do not comment on a women’s body.
She/he is such a good baby!
I hate this saying more than I can explain. Of course, my baby is a good baby, all babies are inherently good! Is there really such a thing as a bad baby? I don’t think so. Sure, it’s ok to say “She is a good eater” or “He’s such a great sleeper” but telling me my baby (or any baby) is a good baby is downright ridiculous.
Would a mother really ever say, “Oh no, she’s not a good baby,”? No, and you shouldn’t say that I have a good baby.
Did you get a chance to X, Y or Z?
Chances are, I haven’t gotten to do whatever it is you asked me to do. My biggest pet peeve would be when a family member would come home in the first few days Sasha was home and ask me if I had a chance to put away something or do something… Chances were I didn’t even get a chance to pee that day without holding her, so I definitely didn’t get a chance to put away the laundry.
My friends without kids would also ask me to do something trivial several times and it irritated me like crazy. If I say I am going to try to do something, I will try. It would be awesome if people who don’t have kids (or don’t have young kids) would understand that my priorities are different now that I have a baby.
Speaking of which…
Questioning Why I am Doing Something
This really started to upset me once I had my baby. I am Sasha’s mother, and only parent, which means I decided how to do things. If I am feeding her, and you feel the need to correct how I am holding the bottle, please do not. I have done my research, I know what’s best. If you feel the need to question what she’s wearing, please don’t. Little things make mothers wonder if they’re really doing a good job. Your commentary is bringing a mother down, and your role as her friend/family member/coworker is to support her… not bring her down!
I don’t need to feel like I have to justify everything I do with my child. If I’m telling you I am doing something a certain way with Sasha, I am doing it that way for an answer. This goes hand in hand with asking me, “Are you serious?” or “Seriously?” No, I’m lying. Yes, seriously… I need to do it this way. End of discussion.
“Oh, she’s hungry”
This. is. the. most. aggravating. thing. to. hear. as. a. new. mom. DO NOT SAY THIS. Unless you’re living in the same house as the child and are very aware of their schedule, have access to their feeding tracker, or are the child’s pediatrician, DO NOT TELL A MOTHER HER CHILD MUST BE HUNGRY.
From very early on, Sasha would suck on her hand. This never meant she was hungry. It is a soothing technique. However, whenever people saw her eating her hand, they would tell me she’s hungry.
Well as Sasha’s mother, I could tell you she ate 5 ounces approximately thirty minutes ago and she’s not hungry! Please stop. Please stop making mothers feel like they aren’t feeding their children enough or producing enough milk. You do not know what that mother is dealing with and how often she’s feeding her child.
Honestly, one time someone said this to me about five times in fifteen minutes and I truly almost asked the woman if she really wanted me to whip my boob out that badly…
Now, if my mother, who lives in the same house as Sasha and knows her schedule, asked me, that would be acceptable. The same goes for a child’s father or caregiver. But as an outsider looking in, do not suggest that a baby may be hungry to the baby’s mother.
“Why are you feeding her X, Y, Z?”
This is the big one. Never tell a mother what to feed her child. Do not question why a mother is not breastfeeding. Do not question why she is pumping. Lastly, do not question why she is giving formula. Every mother has the right to feed her child however she chooses.
I was once told that “pumping defeats the purpose of breastfeeding.” Let that sink in for one second. This person believed that pumping did not benefit my child.
Let me be super clear about this… Pumping does not defeat the purpose of breastfeeding. Your child is still getting fed. In fact, they are being fed the nutrients your body creates specifically for them.
Either way though, you are the person responsible for deciding how to feed your child… no matter what you choose, fed is best.
Minimizing My Feelings
I shared with several friends that I was having a hard time adjusting to maintaining friendships in motherhood. The response I received was that it was an adjustment for them too and I needed to be understanding.
Nothing upset me more.
I am the one with a new child and I understand you may need to adjust how you approach friendship with me, but keep that to yourself. The more supportive response would have been to ask me what they could do to help.
This is extremely important if you have a friend who is the first mom in their friend group. Having a baby is a huge adjustment for a new mom. As someone who cares for that new mom, your job is to be as supportive as possible. Avoiding these questions and comments will help the new mom feel supported.
I know this list makes it seem like I may be sensitive to what was said to me, but put yourself into a new mother’s shoes.
Our hormones are out of control and we can’t help but feel lots of feelings. This list is meant to help you support the new mother in your life, and avoid making her feel bad about anything. Remember, it’s always a great idea to tell that new mom that she’s doing a great job.
Keep an eye out for my upcoming post with my suggestions of other ways to support a new mom!As an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This includes sales through affiliate links on this page.