We all know those dreadful phrases we have banned from saying to a pregnant lady (“You STILL haven’t had the baby?” “Are you sure you’re not having twins?” “Wow, you’re getting so BIG!”) but we don’t always talk about the things we should take off the small talk menu for new mamas.
Being a new mama myself (second time around), I’ve realized that there are a few questions and comments that we should retire from conversation for our own sanity. In our sleep-deprived, rarely showered, fragile state of mind and body, it’s really for everyone’s safety. Because while we may be giving you a polite smile and nod on the outside, on the inside, we are one 2 a.m. wake-up away from scratching your well-rested eyes out.
1. “Are you getting any sleep?”
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE ANSWER IS? Is there any new mom out there sleeping? Even if you have a magical unicorn baby that sleeps through the night, you’re still spending all of your energy keeping a tiny person alive. The laundry list of things that need to happen in one day to keep a baby fed, happy, well-rested, clothed (not covered in spit-up), clean, stimulated (but not over-stimulated) and safe are a mile long! And don’t forget to add laundry to that laundry list! Also, have you noticed that people ask this question with a smirk? Because it’s rhetorical! They know the answer! They are using your pain to feel better about their stage of parenthood, which is probably also exhausting!
2. “She/he looks just like Daddy!”
Um. I just spent nine months carrying this baby and sacrificed my body, caffeine, and sushi to the cause. This baby better resemble me, or I am returning it.
3. “Can I hold him/her?”
Well, I mean, this isn’t even possible right now, but I was always surprised by this question with my firstborn. Let the parent make the offer, but please don’t ask the question. It just puts them in an awkward position if the answer is no. And if the answer is no, there are a million reasons why that could be, so just don’t ask. If I saw that longing in someone’s eyes, chances are I would always ask, “Would you like to hold him?” So just wait for the offer.
4. “You’ll lose the weight soon!”
Oh please. Please let’s stop with the postpartum body shaming. It took nine months for my body to reach this point. Stop expecting women to snap back in less than half that time. Or at all. Bodies change. Priorities change. I worried so much about losing the weight quickly with my first and was so frustrated that it was such a slow process. I learned that my body holds onto extra weight until I stop breastfeeding. That’s just what my body needs to do. It’s nice to know that this time around, and take the pressure off of myself to meet some sort of magic number by some magic date. This body has made, housed, and fed two children. It is magical and awesome, and you don’t get to feel any other way about it.
5. “If you think this time is hard, just wait!”
I get it. Toddlers are hard. Tweens are hard. Teenagers are hard. Young adults are hard. Every stage of parenting has its challenges. It’s not a competition, and there are no cage matches for conquering the 4-month-sleep regression vs. toddler grocery store meltdowns. They both suck. You both lose. Congrats. Can we just nod and smile and say, “You’re doing an amazing job,” or “Hang in there. I know it’s hard,” or “You got this, Mama?”
So the next time you see a pregnant lady or a new mama, there is one thing you can say that perfectly applies to both: