What not to say to a new mum

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If you have kids, you know what it's like to be a new mum. Except, you don't.

Once your baby days are over, it's hard to really relate to that time. This means it's possible you'll say something not-so-great when visiting your friend and her new baby.

Here are a few things you might want to try to avoid saying when you visit a friend who's new to the whole world of babies. 

1. "Let me know if you need anything"

This phrase sounds nice and is intended to be thoughtful. However, when you're the person on the receiving end it can seem a bit meaningless.

This is because being a new mum can be so overwhelming it can be hard to know what you need, and even harder to ask for help.

So if you genuinely want to be nice to a new mum, be specific. Instead of asking her to let you know if she needs 'anything', ask her if you can bring her a coffee, or if you can collect something from the supermarket for her. I know I was so grateful to my friends for such offers and now try to pay them forward.

2. "I'll only pop in for five minutes"

Everybody says this. I actually think in the history of time there has never been a friend who hasn't said this to a friend when she asks if she can come over to meet her baby.

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While it sounds nice to say you'll only "pop in for five minutes", the truth is that after your friend has heard that from a handful of people who have then stayed for over an hour, she doesn't believe it anymore.

3. "You look great!"

While this comment sounds lovely, it can actually make the person receiving it feel worse. You see, up until then, the new mum probably wasn't even aware that other people could actually see her.

I know that when I had my babies, I was in such a baby bubble, I kind of hoped that made me invisible.

So when someone told me I looked great in the days after giving birth I was suspicious. What exactly was 'great' about the way I looked? My all-day-bed-hair? My maternity tracky pants? The bags under my eyes?

Be specific, people.

Or, even better, just don't say anything about a new mum's looks. There are far more important things to talk about anyway (like how cute her baby is).

4. "You think you're tired now? Just wait till you have two/three/25 kids"

This comment is not helpful to anyone, anywhere. Ever.

A new mum is more than aware that the more children a person has, the more work must be involved. But her life has just gone from being about her to being about a Whole Other Living Being.

That's pretty freaking big news.

Telling her she can be more tired/busy/overwhelmed than she already is will make her just want to crawl back into bed.

5. "I've never seen a baby swaddled that way before"/"That's a lot of toys for a newborn"

If you're going to say anything that might possibly come across as judgmental, don't say it.

Seriously, don't.

Sure, you might have swaddled your baby differently. You also might not agree a newborn needs a surround-sound set up with every possible interactive toy within reach from the day she's born.

But if the baby is safe, there's no need to comment on the way your friend is doing things differently to you.

When you're a new mum you want to feel you're doing the right thing for your baby. And if every visitor just says one or two of those kind of comments, you can end up feeling really deflated in your choices.

6. "Oh, your baby's so big/small!"

Commenting on the size of a baby will only make your friend feel bad. You might say, "Oh, your baby's so big" and think nothing further of it. Meanwhile, your friend will worry why she has an elephant for a baby.

If you say her baby looks so small, she'll then worry whether her baby's feeding enough.

Unless you're genuinely worried about her baby's size (and have thought of a nice way to bring it up if you think you really have to), just don't mention it, okay?

7. "Enjoy every minute because it goes so quickly"

You know how one human year is equivalent to seven dog years? Well, one human year is probably more like 500 baby years.

Therefore, the time it takes to settle a baby may only be 20 minutes in normal time, but those 20 minutes are actually five years in baby time.

So whenever someone told me as a new to "enjoy it because it goes so quickly", I was utterly confused by that statement. It just wasn't helpful to me. I couldn't think past the next hour, let alone the next month - or year.  

What to say instead ...

If you think this doesn't leave you with much to say, you're probably right.

One thing you can talk about is how cute her baby is. Feel free to repeat that often. (Seriously, when I was a new mum I was just like a fish; my memory only lasted about 30 seconds. So my friends could say how cute my baby was every minute or so and I'm pretty sure my eyes lit up each time as though it was the first time I'd heard it).

Besides, you don't need much to talk about anyway, because you're only "popping in for five minutes", remember?

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