When you become a parent there’s so much to get used to … no sleep, figuring out what your baby wants when they cry, why the poppers on a babygro never do up quite right, the onslaught of visitors. And often, visitors who just don’t say the right thing.
How many of these have you been subjected to?
You look tired:
There are two possible scenarios here. Either (most likely) she knows exactly how rough she looks – she is well aware that the bags under her eyes make her look like she’s gone two rounds with Mike Tyson, that her hair is either stuck to her head with grease or tinged white with too much dry shampoo, and that her skin is less than glowing as moisturising is at the bottom of her to do list – and having this pointed out to her will feel like the end of the world. Either that or she hasn’t had time to look in the mirror today, and your comment will dash all hopes that she woke up looking like Elle MacPherson.
Are you (breast)feeding? Usually with a not so subtle tap on the chest.
Before having Santi I would never have expected anyone to question how I was feeding him, surely it’s a personal decision? But I soon learned that almost everyone we came into contact with felt it was an acceptable question … friends, neighbours, colleagues, even complete strangers in Asda had the urge to ask how Santi or Ezra were getting their milk. The worst thing was, most of them couldn’t bring themselves to use the word breastfeeding in public, so just asked if I was “feeding” him … looking back I wish I’d just said no, “nope, he’s not being fed, actually, he’s old enough to go foraging now”.
My friend’s baby sleeps through:
Hearing about other babies who sleep for 12 hours really, really does not help a mother who’s spent the last few months (or years) feeling jet-lagged and like she’s not-so-slowly losing the plot. They probably already feel like they’ve failed because their baby still wakes for milk / a dummy / no apparent reason, so just don’t go there.
I don’t like dummies:
The chances are that the subject of dummies would only be brought up by seeing a baby with one … therefore, the mother has given it to the baby. She might have been dead against them herself and vowed never to buy one, but for some reason has had to change her mind. Pointing out that you don’t like them, and wouldn’t give one to your child, will only make her feel worse about it.
Why is your baby crying?
If I knew, I would have sorted it out. Simple.
Is he / she hungry?
Is mammy pinching / starving you:
One of my personal hates. Directed to a crying baby (usually as he or she is handed back to you). Yes, I am both starving and pinching my baby. Of course.
Pointing out that your house is a mess:
You’ve just had a baby, you feel like you’ve run a marathon and been hit by a bus on the finish line. You haven’t slept for days / weeks / months (the length of time your house is a mess is directly proportional to when baby sleeps through), so clearly what you really want to hear is “I’m so glad you’re not the type of person who has a baby and still manages to keep the house clean”. Yes indeed.
I could never sit there with milk down my top:
If they’re offering to wash all your milk-stained clothes then grab the chance! If not, grit your teeth and explain that sometimes babies miss the carefully placed muslin cloth on your shoulder and hit your last clean t-shirt by mistake.
Are you going to try for a girl / boy?
Just leave. Now.
Basically, if you’re visiting a new mother the safest bet is to say how lovely she’s looking, offer to make a cup of tea and coo over the baby.