Moms do it all! If you are one, you know what I'm talking about. If you're not one, I'm sure you know one. MOMS. DO. IT. ALL! Growing an entire human for 9 months while continuing in her daily responsibilities for starters. Then, once that baby is born, her entire world revolves around giving them a better life, while trying not to lose herself along the way. And somehow, this transformational journey seems to attract slews of people thinking you owe them an answer for anything they ask. Not only that, but mothers are not being given the space they need to process what they're going through. So, to sum up, some of the things moms are sick of hearing, and things you should avoid saying, we created a top 10 list!
"Then...once that baby is born, her entire world revolves around giving them a better life, while trying not to lose herself along the way."
1) "So are they a good baby?"
Let's pause for a moment. Now think. WHAT DOES THIS EVEN MEAN? A good baby? For the most part, babies can do a small laundry list of things- none of which are given a performance review. So just stop. Every baby is different, and asking this makes new moms question and doubt even more than they already are.
2) "Why aren't you breastfeeding?"
Well gee Karen, I'm sorry that you don't know every detail of my nipple excursions and feel the need to know all about it. ENOUGH! As Doulas and Lactation Professionals, we will support and educate new parents on all of the benefits of breastfeeding...IF THEY WANT TO. It is not my job to decide how someone feeds their baby. And frankly, it's not anyone's place to ask. Stop telling new moms that pain with breastfeeding is normal. Common does not equal normal. We provide various breastfeeding services, and alternative feeding assistance to the Omaha metro area, and virtual ones to parents all over the country!
3) "Why are you still breastfeeding?"
On the contrary to the previous point, new parents are sick of hearing about how inappropriate or unnecessary it is to still be feeding their baby at the breast. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a baby's life, followed by the slow introduction of solid foods, with the continuation of breastfeeding until two years and beyond. We know just how great of a bond can be formed by breastfeeding, and quite frankly, when it's going well, it's easier than bottle feeding. KEEP ON MILKIN' ON!
4) "Are you sure you want an unmedicated birth?"
Natural childbirth is not a "trend". It's been happening since before Jesus walked the Earth, and will continue to happen as long as babies are born. Most moms who choose this for themselves are not doing. so" to win a trophy" as so many like to assume. They are doing so because of a fundamental philosophy that undisturbed birth is beneficial for mom, and baby. If that's not your choice, do your thang! Carry on. Rock your birth however you choose. But let's stop scaring moms about something they are perfectly capable of doing- and enjoying at the same time.
5) "No baby yet?"
Babies come when they're ready and I cannot stress this enough. An estimated due date is not an expiration date, and they really are just that- an estimate. Please stop making women feel like their bodies are broken because they haven't gone into labor by a certain date. She's already likely feeling huge, uncomfortable, and exhausted. The last thing she needs is to be told, "gee it feels like you've been pregnant forever!". She knows. She feels it. Remind her how great of a job she's doing at making her body the perfect home for her baby, and bring her a meal while she awaits the arrival of her baby!
6) "Are you sure you're not having twins?"
Yes. She's sure. In fact, are you sure you have a brain in your head to even ask a pregnant person that?" Body image insecurity is something that our country struggles with deeply. Pregnancy can inflate this immensely. If you're asking someone this to be snarky, just don't. It's not actually funny. IF you are being genuine or concerned about the weight gain of someone that isn't you, please let them consult their provider.
7) "Is the baby sleeping through the night?"
Nope. Probably not. Regardless of whether or not a baby is breast, or bottle-fed with formula or expressed milk, they're probably not sleeping through the night at 8 weeks old. Please stop asking. Waking frequently is a protective mechanism for the baby against SIDS and low weight gain. Babies are not robots. The next time you think to ask someone if their newborn is sleeping 8 hours straight, ask yourself the last time you slept 8 hours without getting up for a drink of water, or to roll over, or because you heard a noise.
8) "Just wait until [insert any baby or toddler phase]."
Look. Parenting is hard. Nobody is saying it's not. When a new parent expresses they are going through a challenging time, added commentary about how much harder something is going to get is not helpful. It's just not. Whether it's true or not, every age and stage has pros and cons. And every mother-baby dyad is different. Your experience does not dictate someone else's.
9) "When are you having another baby?"
WOAH. Hello personal, and none of your business. Some struggle with fertility after pregnancy due to hormones while breastfeeding. Some are more fertile after pregnancy. Some are just trying to keep the tiny human they do have - alive and healthy. Some just don't want another. MOVING. ON.
My personal favorite thing that NEEDS TO STOP being said is...
10) "Healthy mom, healthy baby"
This phrase is most commonly seen on dry-erase boards in hospital rooms written where the "Goals:" for mom and baby are. Now at first glance, one might not see the issue with this statement. So let me break it down for you.
The definition of "healthy" is broad and open to interpretation. Does "healthy" simply mean alive? Does it mean that it is safe to send a mom and baby home? My definition of healthy includes the soul. It includes the mind. It includes a mother's satisfaction and perception of her birth experience. NOT necessarily her birth outcome, but her experience. How was she made to feel?
Was her birth team supportive of her choices? Did her provider or nurses giggle at her birth plan because it was "unrealistic?" Was she dismissed when asking questions that were vital in her ability to make informed decisions she felt good about?
It is OKAY to have goals beyond "alive", and able to be discharged. It is OKAY to want to have a birth experience you dream about. It is OKAY to ask questions and have your care team take extra time to answer your questions. It is OKAY to grieve a birth you did not get.
When someone has an unplanned, or undesired birth outcome, please don't dismiss their feelings by saying, "Well at least you're both healthy!" Of COURSE, that's a goal. But can that not be the bare minimum? Can we not strive for mothers to feel empowered, confident and supported?
I think we can. I think there's room. So, please stop saying this phrase. Instead, you can say:
"I'm so sorry your birth didn't go as planned."
"I'm so proud of you for making hard decisions."
"I'm so glad that you're both healthy, but I also know this wasn't part of the plan. It's okay to grieve"
Well, this wraps up the top 10 things new parents are sick of hearing! Have a story to tell that goes along with any of these? Share yours and tag #theomahababynest so we can hear it!
For more information about how our team of Birth and Postpartum Doulas can support you, click here!
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