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By Ruth Nchekei

23rd July 2021

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9 things not to say to a new mom

Table of Contents

Every mom has had to sit through sessions of unsolicited advice (read comments) from people. Such moments leave moms; especially new moms, confused, uncomfortable and judged. So if you are reading this, and are about to visit a mom with a newborn(s) or babies, here are taboo topics you should try not to bring up with her.

Bottle-feeding vs bottle-feeding

Challenges that come with breastfeeding highlight this as the most touchy subject in any motherhood journey. One, because breastfeeding can be super painful and two, a mom may genuinely want to breastfeed but there’s no enough supply. One thing may happen in both scenarios: She may choose to bottle-feed her child. 

Mothers who choose to breastfeed may hear comments like: Oh s/he is too old to breastfeed; or; s/he will be a mannerless kid with all that breastfeeding’ or even ‘Eeew don’t breastfeed in public’.

Mothers who choose to bottle-feed may hear: Oh I see, you don’t want your breasts sagging. Or; ‘Millennial moms are too selfish to breastfeed their own children’. 

Bottle-feeding vs breastfeeding should be left to the moms to decide. When such a topic comes up, be open-minded. Use words like: You are doing well mama!

To circumcise or not to circumcise

Avoid voicing strong opinions on whether a mother should or shouldn’t have circumcised her child at birth. No one has the right to opine about another woman’s baby’s foreskin. Only the mother who took the hit at child birth/delivery, can decide. What do you say when such a topic comes up? You are doing well mama!

Birth plan or experience

When it comes to birth plans, there is a mom who’ll prefer a natural water birth in her bedroom; there is another who’ll want an epidural and there is another one who will opt for a c-section. The plans are okay. 

When it comes to birth experiences, there are moms whose water didn’t break and had to be induced and there are moms who had C-sections because they ran out of breath while pushing. Whatever their reasons were please don’t put them in situations they’ll have to explain to you why they chose their birth procedures. 

Babies of different birth experiences come out looking the same– angelic. 

Just tell her she did well. Please.

Mother’s body post-baby

Post-delivery experiences are hard enough without the irritating comments. What’s more irritating is people commenting about a mom’s body or appearance. Comments like, ‘Wow your waist has snapped back’ or ‘You look so tired’ should not be said to a mom who has a newborn or babies.

Also, refrain from handing a body shaping belt to a mom who just had a baby. Let her be, so that she can focus on healing emotionally and physically. 

Another thing, don’t comment about her weight. It’s not nice. 

Reason for baby crying

Babies cry for a number of reasons: hunger, colic, need for attention, and more. Don’t force your interpretations of a baby’s cry on a mom, because, honestly, she knows her baby best. You may decode a baby’s cry as colic and force a new mom into giving colic drugs to a baby who needs breast milk due to hunger or urgent medical attention due to an ear infection. 

When a mom tells you a reason for her baby’s cry, leave it at that. Instead, ask, ‘What can I help with?’.

Don’t get into an argument with her as to why her own child is crying. You’ll irritate her if you do. 

To be a stay-at-home mom or to work

Moms who choose to stay home have been accused of perpetuating patriarchal beliefs about men working and women belonging to the kitchen. Moms who choose to work have been told the price they’ll pay is missing out on the developmental stages of  their babies. Both stay-at-home moms and working moms have one thing at the center of their hearts: Their kids. 

Also, asking a mom who is still sore from childbirth, (say 1 week post-delivery) about whether she’ll go back to work or not is irritating. She will not be at a better head space to tell you whether or not she will go back to work. 

New vs second-hand clothes

Let’s not underestimate how expensive baby clothes are. Also, let’s not underestimate how these little bundles of joy melt our hearts into spending huge sums of money on them. Neither shame a mom who prefers new clothes for her baby nor one who prefers second-hand clothes for hers. 

Of importance is babies staying protected from the elements. Child support agencies will not care whether the baby’s clothes are new or old. They will want to know why their bodies aren’t clothed on a cold winter’s night.

Baby’s looks

A mother will forever remember the things you say to her about her child. Don’t comment about a baby’s size or shape of head. Don’t comment on your suspicions of disabilities the child might have. It’s hurtful. Such things should be left to the pediatricians. Asking a mom whether her baby has or hasn’t achieved certain milestones makes them nervous. 

Another thing, ‘This baby doesn’t look like you or the father, hahaha!’. 

IRRITATING. Don’t say such things.

I remember a nanny telling me, ‘Please go back to the hospital and ask if they switched babies and gave you *Mike. Frankly, he doesn’t look like you or the father.’ Let’s just say, I don’t talk to her anymore. 

Parenting styles

There are many parenting styles and no two moms will rear their children similarly. Some moms are into attachment parenting and others, tiger parenting. Moms will raise their children based on what they know best, depending on their backgrounds. So, when you see one hugging her babies too much, don’t say, ‘You are pampering them too much. How will they survive the harsh world?’ Only comment when you notice abusive behaviour towards children and do it wisely.

Moms have the craziest stories of comments that have been made in regard to what they should or shouldn’t do post-baby. 

Have you been the know-it-all mom who has imposed her opinion on a new and confused mom? Which of these touchy topics did you dwell on unknowingly? Or, have you been on the receiving end? What pissed you off the most? Share in the comments section.

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