A Friend of mine share this article; “The Worst Things You Can Say to a Woman Who Just Had a Baby” I read it and laugh a little at how incredibly true it was. There are so many things that people say, meaning no harm, that are just terrible to hear after you’ve just delivered a baby.
Another friend commented on the article asking “So what CAN you say to let a mom know you empathize with her?” The consensus was a joking, “Nothing. There is nothing you can say” and while in some cases that IS true (We all know that sometimes, silence is the best way to approach conversation with an extremely hormonal woman. Or chocolate. Chocolate and silence.) There are some things that you can say!!
“He’s so beautiful!”
You don’t need to point out the babies size, or shape.. Just tell the mom how gorgeous her baby is! As mentioned in the Yahoo! article, moms don’t always want to hear that their baby is big/small/chunky we just want people to tell us how beautiful he is! While I LOVE that everyone thinks Avery is tiny now (I just love that she’s a petite little thing!) When she was a newborn, hearing how small she was upset me because of the fact that breastfeeding wasn’t going well, and she had severe reflux and couldn’t keep food down. It made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough and she wasn’t thriving.
Also, tell her that the baby looks like her, even if he/she doesn’t. Please, for the love of all things caffeinated, tell her that the baby Looks. Just. Like. Her! At least pick out a feature that mom and baby have in common. You know, like her blue eyes, or strawberry-blonde hair, or peaches and cream complexion!!!!!!!
“You’re doing a great job!”
New moms just want to know that they are doing alright. I know for me personally, I was 99.9% certain that I was completely failing at the whole mothering thing. I mean, I was keeping her alive, but I felt like that was just luck. I just wanted people to stop giving me advice on what I SHOULD be doing, and tell me that what I WAS doing was great!
“You don’t have to enjoy every moment! Some moments suck!”
I wrote a whole blog post about this HERE Everyone tells you “Enjoy every moment!! They grow so fast” and it makes moms feel guilty about NOT enjoying things. Like diaper explosions and projectile vomit! Those things SUCK!!!! All moms know it, new moms want to here that they are not alone in absolutely hating a few moments.
“It gets easier.”
I suffered from Post-Partum Depression. For me it lasted about 4 months. In those first 4 months I truly felt that it would never get better. Between trying to breastfeed and then learning I had “Lactation Failure” (Seriously who named it that? as if I didn’t already feel bad enough, now the medical community is calling me a failure??) the reflux, the sleepless nights, the anxiety…. I thought maybe I’d made some horrible mistake, and I was not cut out to be a mother. I just needed someone to tell me, “I know it’s hard right now, the first few months can be difficult. But, I promise, it will get better, it will get easier.”
“If you need anything, I’m here for you.”
Sometimes new moms need help. Don’t just say you’re there for them, really be there for them! The new mom may not want to ask for help, so, if you are over at her house visiting, maybe offer to throw in a load of laundry, or tell her to go take a nap and you’ll take care of the baby. Even for just an hour. Bring over coffee, or breakfast/lunch/dinner. Change a diaper. Lock her in the bathroom and make her take a shower!!
The general rule is to just be supportive. You don’t need to offer advice, unless asked. You don’t need to share opinions. You REALLY shouldn’t be telling your horror stories (Unless they are told with empathy–“Oh, girl, let me help you clean up this diaper explosion! It happens to all of us! Did I ever tell you about the time this happened to us in the middle of our son’s baptism?!”)
This is just a short list, I’d love to hear what you think!
What words did you love hearing as a new mom? What advice or words of wisdom helped you through the first few days, weeks, months?