Having had a much more settled last few months where I have felt more confident in my parenting choices and that I really do know my baby best, I have been reflecting on some of the things that were said to me as a new mum. The majority of family, friends and complete strangers were overwhelmingly supportive but I did have a few experiences that were completely rude, unnecessary or thoughtless and from talking to other new mums (and reading other blogs/social media!) I know I am not alone. Here are then things not to say to a new mum- I would love to hear if you can relate to any of these!
‘If you carry him in that, he won’t ever be put down’ | This one stayed with me for quite a while. It was a passing comment by a woman in a coffee shop when I had Freddie in the sling. It was the first time I had driven to the town where my husband works and I was feeling really proud of myself because I was going to get to enjoy a coffee and for once he wasn’t unsettled or crying. It turns out that wouldn’t be put down for long for pretty much the first three months or so and I felt a lot of guilt that it must be because I had worn him so much when he was a tiny baby. It took me a long time to realise that actually he was just a normal baby in the fourth trimester and the Silent Reflux aspect mean he preferred being upright. It wasn’t my fault and wearing him was not a mistake at all. I feel like this one fits into the ‘creating a rod for your own back’ nonsense that is spouted by some people whenever you are desperately trying to use any technique you can to get your baby/child to eat, sleep etc. It just makes new parents feel worse and that is not at all supportive or helpful.
‘That is disgusting’ | Said by a girl roughly my age in a Starbucks in Bristol because I was breastfeeding my three month old. The first time she said it I thought I must have misheard but then she repeated it complete with a filthy look and much huffing and puffing. At the time I was really careful to make sure I was completely covered so she really could not see anything at all but even if she had it is still a horrible, horrible comment to make to any mother. If I could go back in time my reaction would not be stunned silence but something altogether different…
‘Health visitors don’t know what they are talking about- mine was awful.’ | I was told quite a few horror stories along these lines when I was pregnant and I really wish people had been more balanced in their opinions. After Freddie was born I was really apprehensive about asking my health visitor for advice and I am so glad I did. She was so, so lovely and really down to earth. She came back for a couple of home visits when she could have asked to see me in clinic instead and I was gutted when she moved teams. As with any job, there are good and bad eggs and she was most definitely a good one!
‘It’s just colic, lots of babies have it’. | This was said to me by friends, family and a very well respected paediatrician. Despite the fact that in my gut I knew it wasn’t colic I really doubted myself. However a couple of my lovely mum friends listened to the way Freddie was behaving and the research I had done and encouraged me to see my GP for a second opinion. I am so glad I did because although finding out Freddie had Silent Reflux didn’t solve anything it did at least explain why he was such an unsettled newborn!
Sleep when the baby sleeps | So many acquaintances, extended family members and strangers told me this but it simply wasn’t possible for me. For the first six months or so Freddie would only nap on his dad, in the carrier or on the boob and none of those were particularly conducive to safe sleeping! It also made me feel like there was something wrong with me that my baby wouldn’t nap away from me!
In the interest of balance, here are three things to say to a new mum:
‘Can I pick you up some coffee/chocolate/takeaway/cocktails?’
‘Would you like me to hold baby whilst you go for a nap?’
‘That sounds really hard. What can I do to help?’
What was the least helpful piece of advice you were given as a new mum? Did you receive any rude or unnecessary comments? I would love to hear in the comments below or over on my Instagram!
Thanks for reading,
P I N M E