If she’s just had a baby, you need to tread carefully around her.
Not because she’s a snowflake.
But because she’s just been through something big and she needs to feel supported right now.
Having a baby is a big deal – even if it’s your fifth. Physically, it is exhausting. Emotionally, it is draining.
Babies are not easy to look after. They’re lovely and cuddly but they don’t sleep, they cry a lot and sometimes they throw up in your mouth.
10 Things You Can’t Ask Her Straight After The Birth
There are a few rules you need to follow when you’re around brand new mamas.
First, don’t make her get up unnecessarily. Her undercarriage is probably sore and she feels achy. All she really wants to do is sit down and not use any of those muscles.
Second, don’t ask her any of the following questions:
#1: Do You Think You’ll Have Any More?
Have you ever eaten a huge banquet and then immediately started thinking about what you would have for your next meal?
Especially if part of the banquet was a watermelon you had to eat whole. And afterwards your mouth was all swollen and bruised. When you’d finished eating, did you really think about eating something else?
No, of course you didn’t.
In the days just after giving birth, no woman dreams about having another baby. She’s thinking about how tired she is, how much her nipples hurt, and how emotional she feels. She has her hands full right now, so please don’t ask this question. She is not thinking about having another baby – that’s your answer.
#2: Did You Poop During Labour?
If you’ve never given birth, the whole ‘pooping during labour thing’ is interesting. Pooping is something you do in private and the thought of doing it in front of a room full of people (including your romantic other) is probably on your ultimate horrors list. If you’ve never given birth, this pooping thing seems like it would be a pretty big deal.
When you have given birth, however, you soon realise it isn’t. It’s not like you squat down on a stage in front of an audience and curl out a prize sample. The midwife doesn’t hold it up for applause once you’re done.
If it does happen – and it doesn’t always – you’re not likely to notice it. And even if you are aware of it, it will be dealt with discreetly, professionally and sensitively. Nobody is going to hurl it at your partner while screeching, “Oh my god, your wife pooped herself!”
So, even though you might want to know about the poop thing, it’s really not a big deal. Don’t make her birth out to be a freak show. Listen to what she tells you but don’t show an interest just because you want the gory details.
#3: Did You Have Stitches?
“Oh, hi, is your vagina intact or did somebody stick a needle in there?”
That’s a pretty weird question. And a really personal one. She might have just welcomed a new life, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve her privacy. If you weren’t intimately familiar with her vagina before the birth, why are you showing such a keen interest now?
Lots of women have a few stitches, and if she wants to tell you about hers, she will. But don’t ask. Let her share the information she chooses to, without having to field questions. This is her birth story, her life event and, most importantly, her vagina.
#4: What’ve You Been Up To?
This is such a harmless question and usually a great conversation starter, but it doesn’t work so well in the postpartum period. Nothing fills a new mother with dread quite like being asked what she’s been up to.
Well, let’s see…. She’s had a baby attached to her boob for about eight hours a day for the past few weeks. She’s changed about 15 nappies a day, learned how to get poop stains off the carpet, and probably made (and forgotten to drink) about 12 cups of tea a day.
It’s not exactly been a gossip-heavy few weeks. You might hear some funny stories about life with a new baby, but you’re unlikely to get much else out of her.
#5: When Are You Going To Lose The Baby Weight?
If you’re looking for a way to sever ties with your new mama friend, this is a great question to ask. If, however, you’d rather stay friends, avoid the topic of weight loss altogether.
It takes months for the body to return to (the new) normal after birth, so don’t be surprised if she still has a bump when you see her. There might not be a baby in there anymore, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to have rock hard abs and a flat stomach. Her body just did something amazing; don’t belittle it by asking about her weight.
#6: Are You Getting Much Sleep?
Yeah, genius, of course. She’s getting so much sleep it’s actually given her massive eye bags. Crazy, right? And you know how she couldn’t find her phone just then – even though she was holding it in her hand at the time? That was because she’s so well-rested. And that blank look on her face while you’re talking? That’s the look of a woman who’s had eight uninterrupted hours of blissful sleep.
Oh, wait. She just had a baby. Sorry, ignore all of the above. No, she isn’t getting any sleep and she probably won’t for the next year or more. In fact, she’s so desperate for sleep that just hearing the word ‘sleep’ could send her into a frenzy.
Don’t talk about sleep. Don’t say you’re tired, don’t yawn and do not ask whether she’s getting much sleep.
#7: Does The Baby Ever Stop Feeding?
Firstly, no. Newborn babies never stop feeding. Feeding is what they do best. You might have noticed how babies are small and adults are quite tall. Food is what enables such a change.
The baby needs to eat. Yes, breastfeeding is time-consuming. And yes, your friend is finding that tough. She’s also worried it means she’s doing it wrong; she isn’t, though –she’s doing an amazing job.
Please don’t comment on her breastfeeding. Don’t ask questions with an obvious agenda. Don’t say anything that’s insensitive or might upset her later.
Even if you’re trying to be helpful, you could end up hitting a nerve and adding to her insecurities. If you absolutely have to say something, choose something supportive and non-judgemental.
If you’re not sure, choose something from this list of things to say to a breastfeeding mother.
#8: Is Your Baby Good?
‘Good’ is a word often used to describe newborn babies. Strangers in the street always want to know if babies are ‘good’. Who actually turns round and says, “No, this baby is terrible. Actually I’m thinking about returning him but I can’t find the receipt”?
Nobody does – even though we all think it, at times.
If you’re describing a baby, ‘good’ is pretty much summed up as ‘quiet, no trouble, always sleeps through the night, never ever cries’. So, basically, you’re talking about a non-existent baby – the baby we all imagine we’ll have. Then we actually have one, and discover babies don’t sleep. They cry a lot and they create terrible nappies full of awful smelling things.
#9: Can I Hold Your Baby?
Everybody wants to hold a new baby. Holding a baby is like being in heaven. Babies smell amazing. They are warm and tiny and very, very cute. Holding babies is the best.
But she might not want you to hold her baby right now, and she might find it difficult to say no. She might have had different people holding her baby all day and just desperately need some cuddles herself.
She might feel anxious when she’s not holding her baby. She just went through nine months of pregnancy and then a birth to get this baby. She should probably have first dibs on holding him.
So, don’t ask. Wait until she offers and then you can soak up all the lovely baby cuddles you can get. But let her decide when it happens. Don’t ask, just wait. This will earn you approximately 80 bazillion brownie points.
#10: Can You Do Me A Favour?
No. No, she can’t. Her entire world has been thrown into chaos with the arrival of the baby. She hasn’t slept more than one hour at a time since the birth, and she has chapped nipples. She can’t do you any favours.
She can’t even find the time to wash her hair or reply to her text messages, so she definitely doesn’t have the time or energy to do anything for anybody else – other than the baby, of course. That tiny tyrant is hogging all of her time.
Just assume, for the time being at least, she has nothing left to give.