There are many obvious things that you should not say to a mom. But sometimes, with the excitement that comes with a new baby are the unsolicited and offhanded comments. These comments, though not intentional, tend to give off judge-y vibes— especially if they come from people who don’t actually have kids to parent.
There is no handbook on how to adult and how to talk to new moms. But when in doubt, just employ the power of empathy, honesty, support, and community. Here are five things that would help you with these— and five statements that you should probably just keep to yourself! (Read: 3 Motherhood Lessons We Can Learn From St. Monica)
Don’t Say: ‘Sleep When the Baby Sleeps’
While this may sound like sage advice, moms— especially new moms— would say this is tough to follow. Because how are you supposed to get anything done if not when the little bundle of joy is napping? And if the mom is working, that is truly and utterly impossible, don’t you think?
What to say or do instead: Offer to watch the other kids or do some of her chores so the mom can lie down for a bit. Offering help will go a long way— not only will she be able to squeeze in a little time for herself, but it’s also a relief to hear someone say that they would be willing to wash the dishes after eating lunch!
Don’t Say: ‘It’s Not That Bad. It’s Worth It!’
While childbirth is a miracle and a joyful experience, it is also excruciatingly painful. The hours or sometimes days of labor, in addition to the recovery, nausea, queasiness, and hormone fluctuations are THAT bad. Saying all those are worth it because it’s not that bad is not only minimizing her feelings, but is also telling her to just suck it up.
What to say or do instead: Empathize. You may not have experienced what she went through but the least you can do is to not disregard her feelings toward what happened. (Read: ‘I Had a Miracle Baby – and a Second Chance at Life!’)
Don’t Say: ‘Wow, You Look Tired!’
It is common knowledge that sleepless nights go hand-in-hand with parenthood. Trust that before you made a comment about how big the circles under her eyes are, the new mom already noticed it. Pointing it out— even in a sympathetic manner— is just rude and will make her conscious about her appearance.
What to say or do instead: Talk to her about stuff you used to talk about before she became a mom. Or better, offer to watch the baby for a few hours while she sleeps. (Read: Shopping Guide: Must-Haves for New Moms)
Don’t Say: ‘You’re Working, Right? Why Don’t You Try Mixed Feeding?’
Admittedly, being a working mom requires commitment and patience. But recommending that they take shortcuts in parenting just because it inconveniences them is unsolicited advice and therefore not needed. If the mom wants to give her child the best possible nutrients by breastfeeding, then let her be. If she decides to give formula to her child, that’s perfectly fine as well.
What to say or do instead: Praise her hard work, resilience, and commitment. While we agree that breastfeeding while working inconveniences the mom, it is still the best possible source of nutrients for the baby. (Read: Aww, Baby Dahlia Amelie Eats the Most Delicious, Healthy Food!)
Don’t Say: ‘The Baby Doesn’t Look Like You!’
When a new mom posts a photo of her baby, there’s always this random person who would say “hindi mo kamukha, kahawig ng tatay!” or there are some people who would go as far and ask “Are you sure they’re yours?”
First, it isn’t funny and not everyone will appreciate the joke. Second, it does not help if you point out that the mom gets no credit for having the child because they look like their dad. (Read: 5 Celeb Babies Who Were Born in Pandemic Year 2020)
What to say or do instead: Tell them that their little one is the cutest baby ever born. It’s what every new parent wants to hear.