I’m not quite sure what makes it socially acceptable, but the moment you announce your pregnancy to the world, your body becomes the property of anyone and everyone to comment upon. Once the baby arrives that mystic entitlement transfers to your beautiful mini human and there are so many things that people say, which they really shouldn’t! I asked my fellow #BlogBumpClub members, and here are our top 10 things not to say to new parents.
- “Is he/she a good baby?” – What people really mean is do they sleep, are they feeding well, are they contented etc but this is all bundled under a label of ‘good’, which I hate! As Ali and I agreed when we chatted about this, no child is born ‘bad’!
- “Are you feeding her?” – Nope, if she can’t prepare herself a full English by now then that’s her problem. Oh, you mean am I breastfeeding her. Yes, yes I am but should that not be the best option for us at some point then I will continue to feed her, but via a bottle.
On the flip side, Kay hates comments like “Give him a bit of formula, to top him up if he’s feeding all the time” – to a mum who is going through a cluster feeding phase and “Is your mummy not feeding you properly?” When her son was crying after breastfeeding. *Sigh*
- “So what about the weight thing?” – Those exact words were said to me and it took a second to register that they meant me. My weight thing. That thing where I grew a human in my body, pushed her out of my body, feed her from my body and by some cruel joke of mother nature’s, I still have a bit of residual podge. Only it’s not a cruel joke, it’s my body and I’m so damn proud of it. Katie was told “Don’t worry, you’ll lose that weight in no time” similarly, Rebecca, Sarah, Sam, Petra and Kate have all had comments about either their weight or other aspects of how they look.
- “He needs to learn how to be held by other people” – As said to Hannah. Similarly unhelpful comments include “Put him on the mat. He shouldn’t get used to being held.” – thanks to Al for sharing that one, and a ‘favourite’ of mine that was said to me when Toby was tiny and napping in the sling: “You’re spoiling him”. You cannot spoil a baby and so bloody what if they ‘get used’ to being held – is that not our job?!
- “One of each, the perfect family” – Or, on the flip side, “Will you keep trying until you get a (boy/girl)?” Mine and Phil’s family would have been just as complete had Martha been a boy. Obviously we wouldn’t have called him Martha.
- “Oh what a shame he’s ginger” – All I can say is thank goodness nobody has ever said this to me, but poor Emma has had this said to her about her gorgeous boy. Two words people: Prince Harry.
- “He looks cold! Where’s his blanket?” – As said to Sarah, on a hot day in May. Leslie has also endured “Her hands are a bit cold, where’s her blanket?”. Well meaning, I’m sure, but it’s up to the parents to make clothing judgement calls and strangers bringing a new mum or dad’s parenting into question just isn’t cool.
- “Oh dear, you’re giving him/her a dummy?” – Toby has had a dummy from very early. It helped to slightly ease the agony of reflux and they may help to reduce the risk of SIDS. Martha won’t even contemplate taking one. Other children chew on teddies or blankets or muslins, or they suck their thumbs or fingers. Dummies get a bad rep but if they help, great. When’s the last time you saw a 30 year old with a dummy? The whole delayed speech thing doesn’t wash with me either, given how Toby’s speech has been on track or advanced since his first word.
- “You just wait until the terrible twos kick in” – I wish I’d taken note to everyone who said that o Phil and I when were were on the verge of complete breakdown during the absolute worst days of Toby’s, because then I could slap the lot of them! We went through an absolutely awful time when Tobes was tiny and I can categorically say now that he is a fully tantrum-filled nearly two year old that we would take this a hundred times over. Never assume that new parents who say they’re struggling are just naive. They probably need more support than you realise and that’s their way of reaching out to you.
- “Was they born natural then?” – Actual words spoken to Amber after the birth of her twin boys. For one, it’s just such an insult to the English language and also, be more delicate when asking about the birth. That mum’s body – however she gave birth and however she feels about it – has been through one hell of a trauma. Sometimes that results in her mind experiencing a trauma too and even if not, just a polite “How was the birth?” at least gives mum the chance to respond with as much or as little detail as she wishes.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll blab away about our children, the pregnancies, labours and births ’til the cows come home. Overall I rarely get offended by comments because I know that people are generally saying things in good faith. However… When speaking to a new parent, just try to remember how delicate and vulnerable they may be feeling at that moment. Breastfeeding could be excruciating, the birth may have been traumatic, they are probably doubting at least 90% of their decisions and comments that could come across as judgmental, critical or just plain rude will not be appreciated.
Tell them how cute the baby is, congratulate them, ask if they need anything and just be an awesome type of person!