This blog is a collaboration of real Mommy’s Bliss moms and dads based on our real experiences as parents who’ve been there.
It seems new and expectant moms are on the receiving end of unsolicited advice and comments more than anyone. A woman on the brink of mommy hood or a brand-new mom, is a beautiful thing, and naturally, people are drawn to the magic and almost cannot help themselves. While it is normally not mean-spirited and relatively harmless, we can all take a page from Emily Post’s world of etiquette and quite simply, do better. While sensitivity may be heightened for new moms trying to navigate so much, or moms-to-be about to embark on the unknown, these are some of the things we’ve actually heard with our own pregnant and postpartum ears. Buckle up.
It’s none of your business!
“ I was bothered when someone asked if I had a “natural” birth or “vaginal birth” vs a C-section. Especially for someone who just gave birth. I feel there is a negative connotation that a C-section is lesser and not considered natural. “
This is a private and sometimes sensitive topic for mom, her partner, and her doctor meaning a C-section is not always a choice, but something done for the safety of mom and baby. Simply say “What a miracle maker you are!’ ’Or, if you must ask about the big moment, simply say “I hope your delivery went well.’
Moms and Carte Blanche
“ I had to have a little talk with my mother-in- law about something she would continually say when my son was crying. ‘Oh, is mama being mean to you? Are they hurting you?? I will be nice to you!’ Obviously, it was meant facetiously, but when you are already sleep deprived and questioning every little thing, it just sent me over the edge. “
This one is tough because it is a mother-in-law, but hey, you are tough too. If you can – let it roll off your back (which is hard) or try to explain that you are tired and just need positive reinforcement- period. Maybe she could say (instead) “Let me hold the baby. A change of scenery may help…go take a rest.”
Just let me work out!
“ A woman at the gym saw me eating an orange and went out of her way to tell me that "citrus erodes the umbilical cord." I knew she was wrong, but as a first-time mom-to-be, I frantically consulted Google and learned that citrus does absolutely nothing to your unborn child aside from providing key nutrients. “
She probably could have said something (or nothing) better like “Congratulations, you are absolutely glowing - brighter than that orange.”
We file this one under “We can’t believe our ears!”
“ My first recommendation is to never comment on a mother's age. Period. When I had my son, one doctor in particular was extremely concerned about my 'advanced maternal age' and its effects on the baby (I was 33 years old). He was constantly warning me that my baby had a higher rate of not being 'normal' or 'healthy'. When my son was born 'normal' and 'healthy', this doctor emailed me to strongly suggest that I schedule an appointment to get on birth control immediately because I had 'defied the odds' and next time I might not be so lucky. I also had a few random people in grocery stores, Target, etc. comment on me being an 'older' mom and that did not sit well with me. “
Well, this is just wrong on so many levels. For starters, all pregnancies are daunting, especially for first time moms. Whether you are 20 or 40 years old, feeling comfortable with your doctor is key. If you do not have chemistry or a comfort level with your doctor, find a new one. This is such a big 9-month journey, and one you want to be comfortable on…with a wingman who leaves you feeling cared for and not anxious. That said…do not talk about age. Period. And to those unsolicited commentors in Target, just tell me I am glowing. Tell me my baby is beautiful. Or just smile and move along.
“ 3-4 weeks after my son was born, my mom visited to help. One day at dinner she told me that I needed to cook more. I burst into tears. I was already struggling and feeling like a failure, so this criticism certainly did not help. The ONLY thing a new mom should worry about is taking care of her baby and herself. That is it. “
Moms seem to be given carte blanche after a baby is born because they have obviously been there and because you are their daughter. It can be a blessing and a curse as comments are unfiltered, and even when they are trying to be helpful, it can be ill-timed or simply too much. Maybe you could ask Mom to cook a meal, letting her know what a great cook she is. Or remind Mom that you’re a bit busy at the moment and point out that her beautiful grandchild is doing miraculously in your care, and everyone is indeed well-fed. What you say in your thought bubble is entirely up to you.
“ Do not comment on if the child is really the father’s or not. My husband and in-laws all thought it was funny to call our son a 'no doubter', meaning he looked so much like my husband that there was no doubt that he was his. After years of trying to get pregnant, suffering pregnancy loss, having a traumatic birth experience and then finally bringing home a healthy baby boy, to have my in-laws make such comments was horrifying. The mental aspects of becoming a new mom and having a new baby and hormones all over the place was hard enough. Instead, comment on how beautiful the baby is and if the baby does look a lot like one of the parents, just say, “It is amazing how much baby resembles you” and leave it at that. “
100%. We all say things in jest, but there is no place for this narrative. While an uncanny likeness is common, the joke still does not fly when the likeness is less obvious. We love the word “shhh”
Funny. Not funny.
“ When I was VERY pregnant, I went grocery shopping one day. The produce guy walked up to me and said, “I see you trying to swipe that watermelon.” Whatever. But then, he proceeded to rub my pregnant belly. Oh no you did not! The very next day I went back to the same store, and he tried the exact same schtick again! Umm, it was not funny the first time. This time, I backed away and stopped him with my hand to let him know it was not ok to touch me. Then, after my baby was born, I got the dreaded comment that many new moms get. “When is the baby due?” Well, I am holding my newborn, so you do the math. Yes, I looked pregnant, but no one was more aware of that than me. I would appreciate a minute to recover, heal, and let my body reset. “
Ugh. First of all, NEVER touch a pregnant woman’s belly unless you know her and know this is ok…or are a doctor. Even then, know your boundaries. Not sure when it became ok to touch a stranger, let alone a pregnant one.
As far as looking pregnant postpartum… it is completely normal and natural. Immediately after delivery, the uterus will be at the level of your belly button, which is basically the look of a 20-week pregnant mom-to-be. Women tend to look pregnant for 6-9 weeks postpartum as the post-baby belly and uterus return to normal. It’s safe to just say nothing or simply You look wonderful” or “Your baby is beautiful, congratulations.” Both safe and thoughtful options.
We can all learn a thing or two about unsolicited advice, boundaries, and what not to say. But “what to say instead” just may come in handy for those at a loss for the right words.
As our own moms used to tell us “If you can’t say something nice…don’t say anything at all.” And yes, in some cases, silence is golden.
This site is intended for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. Please consult your physician or other health-care professional.