Look, I understand. Babies are exciting. They are a flawless miracle that remind us all how precious life is. BUT GET IT TOGETHER. Don’t disregard all forms of etiquette simply because you lose your cool even just talking about babies. While it is a beautiful thing to have a child, the women who bear them are under a lot of stress. This is a time when being supportive of her means the most. Yes, she may seem like Superwoman to you, but she’s not. Whether it’s her first or fourth baby, she’s on an emotional roller coaster ride that doesn’t stop to sleep. Bombarding her with questions at the wrong place and the wrong time is just cruel. If she’s an introvert, times that by 10.
I’m working on a list of suggestions for what to say, but in the meantime, I beg you not ask a woman who just had a baby any of the following questions:
- “Are you Breastfeeding?”
First of all, we’re talking about my boobs here. When were my boobs ever on the table for group discussion before I had children? They weren’t. So keep my boobs outcho mouth!
Second, what if I couldn’t produce milk? It actually happens! And plenty of women already feel horrible about themselves because of it without you rubbing it in their face.
Third, each new mom and baby are unique. You have no way of knowing all of their possible needs both together and separately. For example, there may be a medication mom needs to take that could harm the baby. Or maybe her work schedule doesn’t allow adequate time to pump. The list goes on.
If you are genuinely curious for your own personal knowledge that’s one thing, but never assume you know what’s best for a woman whose shoes you are not in.
Oh yeah… and if you’re a man, never ask. Just don’t.
2. “Did you have an epidural?”
Here’s an idea! How about we let each woman choose what she would like to share about her experience. Instead of asking, “did you have an epidural?” try, “I’d love to hear your birth story if you’d like to share.” Then we can choose to disclose certain moments we may find notable or special.
What’s the big difference? Being in labor was the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. I didn’t even know what was going on for 24-hours because my doctor at the time described contractions as a completely different process than what I perceived to be happening. I was waiting for a specific type of sensation that never came.
Considering the varying genetics, conditions, body types, etc. of women, it’s understandable that each one has vastly different reasons for choosing which (if any) medical interventions. For some, this may open up a can of emotions or even bad memories of an emergency situation. Let her tell you what she wants to remember about that day and the conversation will go much better for both of you.
Remember, after having a baby women are basically a walking emotion that could change at any minute. And can you blame her? I like to think of pregnancy in laymen’s terms and then it blows my mind even more. She GREW and HOUSED a PERSON for nine months inside her own body. I struggle with numbers but even I know two people in one body does not add up. It takes time to bounce back to riding solo, so be sensitive!
“To the warriors that wanna do it at home and the warriors that wanna do it in the hospitals (with or without drugs)–or whatever version anyone wants to do, I just say YES!”
3. “Can I feed/hold your baby?”
We had a beautiful red-headed labor and delivery instructor who reminded me of Brandi Redmond from The Real Housewives of Dallas. The class was graphic and real in the best possible way. (:
“Brandi” warned us about the sacred hour or so right after you have your baby. She said relatives and friends are going to want to come in but don’t let them. There’s even this whole family first initiative in the state of Texas that now requires all of the post-birth testing to be done in the room. They want to encourage as much bonding time with the mother and father as possible.
As a new mom, this one took a little while for me to digest. I always assumed I’d pass my baby around and be comfortable with people holding her. But when I got home from the hospital I was so disoriented. No sleep and incredible new responsibility! A whole human life is now in my hands. Women (especially new moms) need time to digest their new role. Not to mention the whirlwind that’s happening on the inside and outside of her body.
Point being, express that you would love to hold the baby (if that’s the case), but let her offer it when the time feels right. Not during a feeding, crying session or anything that feels forced.
It’s not that I would necessarily mind these questions in the appropriate setting with someone I feel comfortable sharing with. AKA one-on-one. And even then I may not feel like talking about such hot-button topics. But people tend to choose the most inappropriate time and place to make such inquires into very personal details.
Why? I don’t know…maybe it’s the lack of actual communication these days, but we are in serious need of manner reform. The reality people need to come to terms with is that there are a huge variety of needs for a mother and baby. There could be a number of reasons a mother is doing any one thing for her child.
If you really want to know, ask her in private. Please, for the love of God don’t shout it out across a dinner table.
~Tired and Covered in Spit-up.
Are there issues surrounding pregnancy, childbirth or parenting you would like me to explore with an introverted eye? Send your topic to firstname.lastname@example.org