Being a new mom is hard as hell. And those who try and tell you otherwise either never experienced it, or simply forgot. For me, the first three months of Jack’s life were so difficult. Yes, they were also beautiful, but they also turned me into a low-grade psychopath. While I was in the thick of it all, I received so much love and support from people I love. I am so grateful for that. But with all the love I received, there were also those not-so-loving comments that left me either scratching my head, wondering why someone would say something like that, or left me on the verge of tears. So I thought I’d do a little PSA-type blog post about things you maybe shouldn’t say to a new mom. Because I think it’s important. But I should also say that this is totally opinion-based. So something that may upset one mom may not upset another. But I think it’s good to just be safe.
“It just gets harder.”
Talk about unhelpful. Some people think they’re being comforting by saying that this stage of parenthood is not as hard as others, but while you might think this is comforting, it’s absolutely not. Even if you’re right, you want to offer hope to the new mom. You never know what exactly she’s going through. Especially if she’s experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, she will need support and hope that things will get better, not worse.
Instead, maybe say something like, “It just gets better.” Because even though things may get harder, it’s bound to get easier for the mother to handle because she will be stronger and healthier.
“Every woman has done it.”
This is another phrase that may seem comforting, but can actually be pretty discouraging. Someone once told me, in an attempt to make me feel better, that women have been having babies since the beginning of time, so I should be able to handle it, no problem. It comes naturally to women. And if they can do it, I can do it. Instead of making me feel better, this just kind of made me a little discouraged. It made me feel like I was the first woman in history to struggle with something I should naturally be good at. This may also make a mother feel like her struggles are being downplayed. By telling someone that they’re dealing with something so universal might make them think they don’t have the right to struggle, or that the struggle really isn’t that tough.
Instead, maybe say something like, “What you’re doing is hard.” Leave others out of it. Mothers compare ourselves enough, we don’t need you to help us with that.
“I did my time.”
I can’t even begin to count how many times I was told this by someone who had older kids. I have been told that I won’t get any sympathy for being sleep deprived or miserable because they “did their time” and went through it. So, naturally, they don’t need to have sympathy for me. Cause they already went through it. Ironically, most of the people who have said this to me are men.
Instead, say something comforting and positive. Even if you don’t feel bad for them, just be comforting. And if you are so confident you went through something just as difficult, then you should know how hard it is. And you should know how much a comforting word or thoughtful gesture could mean to them.
“You shouldn’t be in this much pain.”
Ok, this one was one my nurse told me. The second night after giving birth, I was in SO much pain. I literally dreaded having to get up and go to the bathroom because it was such a painful ordeal. That night I just broke down in tears. And when my nurse came to check on me, she literally said. “You only had a 2nd degree tear, you shouldn’t be in this much pain.” Uh, not helpful… because, well, I am in this much pain. Then, I felt totally embarrassed by how much I was hurting. I was going off of maybe 3 hours of sleep in 2 days, so my body wasn’t healing the way it should. So, please, for your own sake, don’t underestimate or downplay how much pain a mother is in. I thought this was common sense, but apparently it’s not.
Instead, say something like, “How can I help you feel better?” Let her know you care.
“You’ll never sleep again.”
One of the worst things you could say to someone who is sleep-deprived is that they will never sleep again. Yes, she knows that she won’t be getting sleep any time soon. But reminding her of that is tactless and rather unhelpful. Sleep deprivation is NO JOKE. It’s awful.
So, instead of reminding your friend that she may not sleep again, offer her comfort. Or, even better, offer to watch her baby so she can take a nap.
Well, there you have it. When you were a new mom, what kind of comments annoyed you? If you have something to add, please let me know in the comments. Cause at this point, it is a little amusing.