Being a new parent is hard, plain and simple. There are no straightforward how-to guides. There’s a stupid amount of advice. Everything from eating to sleeping to crawling to nursing has a million articles and experts for and against every aspect you could think of (and plenty you haven’t thought of yet).
Navigating all of this sh*t while you’re sleep-deprived and feeling like a shell of your former self is only compounded by the snarky comments—made intentionally or not—by family and friends. If you’re wondering how to tactfully interact with a new parent while being supportive and kind, here’s a list of all the sh*t NOT to say to them.
1. “You Still Look Pregnant!”
Before you go thinking, “nobody would ever say this”, I literally had someone say this to me and I about had a crying episode in public. (Don’t worry—I waited until I got back to my car, then cried alone in a parking lot, like an adult.) Having a baby is f*cking hard. Being expected to look immediately like how you did before you had said baby is hard. If you aren’t sure what to say, don’t f*cking say anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s been a week or a year. Everyone is different, and everyone’s body handles pregnancy and childbirth at its own rate. Some people can go for three-mile walks two days after pushing out a kid. Some, like me, are healing from C-sections and literally can’t move, like, at all. So chill with your judgment. And while we’re at it, how about we stop commenting on people’s bodies altogether?
2. “Are You Breastfeeding?”
Breastfeeding, formula feeding, exclusive pumping—it’s a torrid mindf*ck. Some moms breastfeed without a problem whatsoever. Some formula feed and love every minute. Some do a combo, and some exclusively pump. Basically, it’s none of your business, and you shouldn’t ask or offer advice either way. There are a lot of #feelings about how people *should* feed their babies, and it kind of boils down to not concerning you, at all.
3. “You’ll Lose The Weight”
A close family member said this to me, and my first thought was, “but what if I don’t?” Does that make me a failure? Maybe I’ll drop all the baby weight and then some. Maybe I won’t drop any at all, or I’ll stay somewhere in between for years. It honestly doesn’t matter, as long as you’re healthy and your baby is well taken care of. If it isn’t okay to make comments about someone’s weight while they aren’t pregnant or just had a kid, why is it okay after?
4. “You Look Tired”
Wow, do I really? I thought this new two-hours-of-sleep-at-a-time thing was really going to do wonders for my skin, hair, and overall appearance. I know I look f*cking tired. I have no idea how to take care of myself or this tiny person. Pointing out that your friend or family member looks like they haven’t slept when they have a new kid is not a cute look for you. It isn’t helpful; it isn’t being supportive or real. Instead of pointing out that mama looks tired, tell her that you bought her more lounge pants and cuddly bathrobes, or that she deserves a personal box of party tacos for holding her sh*t together through such a life shift and you’re proud of her.
5. “Sleep When The Baby Sleeps”
Cool, and I’ll do laundry when the baby does laundry and also wash dishes when the baby washes dishes. I’ll pencil in having a glass of wine when he has a glass of wine. I know this is old, tried-and-true advice, but in practice, it’s really kind of meh. I can say I tried to do this for a bit as a new parent, but eventually, the piles of dishes and laundry and need to wash your hair outweigh the need for sleep, so you have to take advantage of what little time you have.
6. “You Should Have Another”
Are you f*cking kidding? I can’t even wrap my head around how to take care of one tiny person and myself. How can you even mention a second? This is a pretty sh*tty thing to say regardless. Like, sure, maybe down the road, you’ll forget all about the sleepless nights, the tantrums, the hours nursing and pumping, and the good times you missed out on because you couldn’t figure out how to leave the house—and then decide to add a second or third kid to your household. But, until then, one is more than enough, and guests, family, and friends all need to respect that, too. Additionally, it’s NO ONE’S BUSINESS.
7. “Let Me Know If You Need Anything”
This one can seem confusing, so allow me to elaborate. New parents are f*cking tired. We don’t know what day it is. We don’t know what bag of Cheetos, old salad, or Pop-Tart is going to suffice for dinner. We need lots of things—spa days, time away from the baby, more time with the baby, wine, more wine, etc. If you want to help, just straight-up offer something. Instead of asking “what can I do?” or saying “let me know…” just offer something concrete. “I’m bringing you two bottles of wine, a footlong Italian sub, and a pizza” or “Hey, I picked up 12 trashy gossip mags and your favorite cake from that bakery” will be much, much more appreciated than making us think about anything other than when we can nap.
8. “It’s Supposed To Hurt”
I was told this when I was struggling with postpartum depression and a difficult breastfeeding and nursing period. When my son latched, I fantasized about throwing him like a football across the room—that’s how bad it hurt. I heard everything from “just go see a lactation consultant” to “well, you’re just making it harder on yourself to do formula or pump” to “you’re clearly doing something wrong” to the above, “it’s supposed to hurt”. A mom’s breastfeeding, nursing, formula, and/or feeding journey in general is none of your business. Be supportive of however she’s feeding her kid, and offer no other “advice” unless specifically asked.
Images: Wesley Tingey / Unsplash; Giphy (3)