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what to say to a new mom

When you’re a new mom, you have a lot to consider. You go from worrying about the due date of your baby to worrying about breastfeeding, teething, bathing, baby-proofing…and that’s just in the first year or two of their life! Some people know exactly what to say, and others may need a little coaching. Based on some very honest feedback, here are 12 things you shouldn’t (and should) say to new moms!

Don’t say…

1.  Let me tell you about my labor experience…

They do not need to hear about your four day labor, your irregular heartbeat, or the epidural not taking. Stick to the not-so-scary stories of being a new mom. Keep it positive!

2.  Are you bottle or breast feeding?

This is a very personal choice, and you should wait for the new mom to volunteer the information instead of asking. Everyone has their own personal preferences on how to feed their child, and new moms are already tired, overwhelmed, and possibly second-guessing all their decisions because they are just learning the ropes. If she feels comfortable telling you, then you can launch in with the advice, support, and praise.

3.  Are you enjoying your time off work?

No mom thinks of maternity leave as vacation. They just spent the last nine months preparing for a new child, and now they have the full-time job of taking care on them. Maternity leave might be a welcome break from the stress of a nine-to-five, but it adds a new level of stress, and new moms aren’t exactly sitting with their feet up not doing anything productive.

4.  Is the baby sleeping through the night?

From the dark circles under her eyes, you could probably guess this answer. But it’s a rare newborn that learns the trick of sleeping for more than a few hours at a time, and when the mom has to feed that baby every one to three hours, nobody is getting sleep in that household. After the adrenaline wears off after the first week of late nights, it’s easy for the new mom to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. So don’t ask…

5.  Are you sleeping when the baby sleeps?

Because the answer is probably no. If the baby wakes up every hour to feed, mom would have to be a yo-yo to make that kind of sleep schedule work. She’s probably falling asleep standing up at this point, so sleep is a rare gift that she’ll take when she can get.

6.  Are you eating properly?

Some days might be better than others, but most moms just need to keep their body fueled any way they can, so they might not be cooking healthy every night (and your question will make them feel guilty for not doing so). Instead, bring some meals round to the new moms house so you know she’s getting eating right!

7.  What percentile are they?

This question or anything about the size or development of the baby will always stress a mom out, whether she’s on her first or third child. It’s just another parents way way of asking if their kid is bigger or smarter or faster on the development chart. Comparisons are not helpful, and happiness should always be the measure of success!

8.  Have you decided how you’ll discipline them?

Hopefully a new mom is focused on sleep, feeding, and surviving the day, and not how they will (eventually) have to communicate the rights and wrongs of the world to their new child. Maybe reserve the questions about discipline until they’re a toddler (or just leave it up to them!)

9.  You’re body looks so good after your pregnancy!

Don’t mention a new mom’s body. Just don’t. After nine months of unbelievable changes, they now have to deal with the baby on the outside, and their body is still changing. Weight loss or gain, skin stretching, and swollen everything is totally normal, but they might not feel that way. Best to avoid the subject entirely.

10.  Your baby cries a lot, are they just fussy?

The mom doesn’t know. The baby doesn’t know. Crying is just part of the experience, and the new mom is just trying to figure out what the baby needs (if anything) to make them stop. Ask her instead if you can hold the baby and try and quiet them down, so you can at least give mom’s arms a rest, if not her ears.

11.  Did you use the [insert baby gift here] that I got you yet?

Even if this is totally well-meaning, this is just going to upset a new mom. If she remembers what you got her, then she’s doing pretty well, but that still doesn’t mean the baby fit into the clothes, can hold their head up in a rocker, or has motor functions to use the toys you bought. Wait until the mom offers up a thank you, or just accept the knowledge that you’re gift will one day be used.

12.  Did you baby-proof your house yet?

Depending on when the baby was born, this question can imply that the mom is not prepared enough if she hasn’t already done it, or over-prepared if she has (say, when she was still pregnant). You can always offer to help proof the house when you go over to visit, if you think she’ll accept the offer without it stressing her out.

And things you should say…

1.  Can I run errands for you?

This includes chores around the house, like laundry and dishes, and running out for groceries or diapers. This also gives the mom time to focus on the baby, and not on the piles of dirty laundry or unwashed bottles in the sink, which she’ll be endlessly grateful for.

2.  Would you like me to hold the baby for you while you shower or nap?

Mom might not be feeling very much like herself after a few days of no sleep, so even a few minutes of quiet and privacy will be appreciated, especially if it means she can get clean or catch up on some sleep.

3.  You’re doing great.

Sometimes all we need is a little encouragement to get through the day, and new moms are no different. They just want to know that they’re doing a good job, and a little reassurance can go a long way to making them feel like they are on the right track.

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