She seems to be the picture of contentment ― after all, she has an adorable newborn nursing at her bosom and a supportive husband looking after her needs. So, the cosy arrangement looks hunky-dory, right? Not!
More often than not, the first days of caring for a newborn are very trying. New mums are exhausted from the delivery, awash with hormones, suffering from engorged breasts and cracked nipples, and all she wants is to be left alone.
However, guests will drop by to coo over the baby. She also soon realises that everyone has a word (or two or more) of well-intentioned advice. But most times, what the new mum appreciates and needs is a hug and to be reassured kindly that she’s doing a great job.
So, when you visit a new mum, make sure to keep these choice statements to yourself.
1. Why does your baby cry so much?
All babies cry, yes, even the most well-behaved ones. You can hear it, and the mum definitely can hear it, too. She probably can also feel that she’s the cynosure of everyone’s nasty glares on her as she tries to soothe her fretful baby into silence. If mama’s stressed, baby probably can sense it, too, so please don’t add to her tension. What you can do is offer to hold baby while the mummy goes to the bathroom, freshens up, or takes a breather.
2. Sleep when the baby sleeps
As she’s with the baby 24/7, the only time she gets to do anything that’s not related to babys when the baby is sleeping. Besides, it’s not like she has an on/off switch which she can simply press to send her to the Land of Nod!
If mama’s stressed, baby probably can sense it, too, so please don’t add to her tension.
3. What are you doing now that you’re on maternity leave?
Sixteen weeks away from work may seem like a luxury to you, but it’s way off base if you think that this is a vacation for the new mother. Being constantly at your baby’s beck and call is not just draining, it’s frustrating, too! Don’t forget that newborns need to feed at least once every two hours because of their walnut-sized tummies and need diaper changes up to 15 times a day, even through the night. So, have a heart!
4. Why are you not breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding may come naturally to some women, but not so much to others. She has probably been asked this question more than once and is already feeling stressed about it. Respect the choice she’s made because she shouldn’t have to feel bad about it!
More new-mum no-nos on the following page…
5. When are you going to give him a sibling?
Oh, sure, why ever not? After all, she’s been up all night rocking a fussy newborn to sleep, hasn’t had any shuteye herself, or even washed her hair in days. And when the baby finally sleeps, it’s on her chest, so she can’t feel her arms anymore. Right now, the spectre of another baby sounds like the stuff nightmares are made of.
6. You look so tired
Does she indeed? Oh, I wonder why…?
7. Is your baby sleeping through the night?
Not every parent is (excuse me, make that Most parents aren’t) lucky enough to have a newborn who can sleep six hours straight when he’s a mere week old. Not only are you putting undue pressure on the new mum, you’re making her doubt her parenting capabilities. Even so, only 60 per cent of babies sleep through the night (by this we mean a five-hour stretch) when they are about 6 months old.
Right now, the spectre of another baby sounds like the stuff nightmares are made of.
8. Is that drool on your shirt?
Um no…it’s most likely breastmilk because her boobs are leaking. Not that it’s any of your business!
9. Your baby is too young to be going out.
Well-meaning relatives tend to be concerned about your little one’s health, but hearing this refrain every single time you pop downstairs for a quick stroll (or to simply check the letter box because you have cabin fever) can be extremely frustrating. Come on, mums need fresh air, too!
10. Are you sure it’s safe to leave him with the nanny?
It might be the nanny, the helper, even her own sister. Whatever it is, trust that she’s done sufficient research, interviewed the caregiver and now has utmost confidence in the person’s ability to care for her baby. So, take a chill pill and refrain from worrying or agitating her.