From the moment that little bump begins to show, you become public property. It is acceptable, suddenly, for people to grope your stomach, ask intimate details about your birth plan and give child-rearing advice, whether or not it is welcomed.
I found it all quite amusing when I was pregnant. Some advice was incredibly useful – “get Netflix for those cluster feeds” – and some questions were just plain awkward – “are you expecting twins?”. Erm no but I guess I can now expect to give birth to a 13lb baby.
However, once I started wheeling a buggy around I began to find the endless unwarranted questions, and free advice wearisome. I felt as if I was constantly justifying myself.
So to all those well-intentioned people out there, here are a few things that no new mum wants to hear…
Are you sure he isn’t cold?
“Thank you for your kind enquiry random stranger but according to my temperature chart my baby is wrapped in the appropriate number of layers for this weather”. At the end of the day, if a baby is too cold, they will let you know. They aren’t backwards about coming forwards these little ones.
Have you tried Googling it?
“Yes I have and apparently this rash/ crying/ dry skin/ sleeplessness indicates that my baby is about to self combust, so I should probably get the fire extinguisher ready”. Of course the internet can be helpful but 9 times out of 10 there will be a scaremongering answer out there that will have you panicking all the way to the doctor. Our mothers coped OK without the internet so I have learnt to approach it with caution.
Is he/ she sleeping through the night yet?
No sleep-deprived mother wants to be asked this question, particularly from a fellow new mum. And we definitely don’t want to hear how your children all slept through the night from the minute they came home from hospital. Nor do we want your miracle cure – I can assure you that whatever it is we will have tried it!
Are you breastfeeding?
I was extremely relieved that I could answer “yes” to this question whenever I was interrogated by the medical profession, as I was pretty sure the firing squad were taking aim at anyone who said no!
This was ridiculous though. Every mum’s decision should be respected not vilified – we have enough guilt in our lives!
Aren’t those first few weeks such a wonderful and special time?
We of course reply “Oh! It is amazing. I cherish every second”. In reality, we want to wave a white flag and scream “It’s so hard. I haven’t slept, showered or left the house in days. Help!”.
You look tired
Errr… no s*** Sherlock.
If you’re wondering what new mums really do want to hear, perhaps start with those blissful words, “what can I do to help?”.