The transition into motherhood is exciting and nerve wracking all at once. It changes you in many ways. It makes you uber emotional- laughing one moment and trying not to tear up the next because le husband bought the wrong flavor of ice cream (true story).
What hasn’t changed though is my intolerance for unsolicited, out dated, crappy advice. Especially those given to new moms by people who think they have been appointed by God to (mis)guide other parents with superstitions, myths, and a huge unhealthy dose of misogyny.
Well, I am not having any of it. I would love to have visitors come see my baby and me inshaAllah. But along with their shoes I want them to leave all unsolicited advice at the door. To make it easier, I made a list and asked my friends who are in the same boat to contribute too. So here’s a list of things you DON’T want to say/do to a new mom and baby:
1. Let’s start from the beginning because it’s always a good place to start. I know it’s exciting that a new baby has arrived, but it isn’t necessary to go see the said baby immediately after the baby comes out of the mother. The parents have just had a life changing moment. Give them some time to take it all in, don’t visit them on day 1 at the hospital.
2. Don’t put down mothers for their mode of delivery- natural or c-section. With intervention or without, a healthy baby and mother is what we want. She doesn’t become less of a mother in either case so don’t try to make her feel that way with any implied words/expresssions/tone.
3. Let the mom breastfeed/formula feed in peace. Don’t judge her. Don’t shame her. Don’t tell her that her milk isn’t enough for her child. She knows what’s good for her child. (It's astounding the number of people who think it's okay to just assume you don't have enough milk and tell you that. That's a last thing you want to hear in a vulnerable state.)
4. Unless you are her gynecologist or pediatrician stay away from giving any “health advices” for her or her baby.
5. Don’t comment on the gender of the child and offer consolations if it’s a girl. I literally give 0 s#!ts about whether it’s a boy or girl as long as my baby is healthy and happy.
6. Don’t comment on the skin tone of the child. My baby is not a painting that needs critical comments on tone and texture. And I am definitely not pleased if you say she's fairer than before, like it's a compliment.
7. Don’t compare babies and say oh this one is fatter/skinnier/darker/fairer. It’s not a baby beauty pageant. And you aren’t the judge.
8. Zip it if you are planning to give unsolicited advice on how to make my child fairer/fatter/skinnier/more muscular/run like usain bolt/walk on water. I don’t want that advice.
9. DO NOT OFFER MY CHILD ANYTHING TO EAT OR APPLY ANYTHING ON MY CHILD WITHOUT ASKING ME OR MY HUSBAND.
10. Don’t ask me to polka dot my child’s face with kaajal. If you are so keen, invest in a Barbie doll and spot her face away when you feel the urge.
11. Don’t force moms to arch their baby's brows with kaajal and give them eyebrows that look like they can launch anything into space. Babies are cute as they are, don’t line, dot or arch their faces just because it’s tradition.
12. I know it’s tempting to cuddle and kiss babies, but new born babies are fragile, their immune system is not developed. Don’t kiss them on their mouths. Don’t kiss them at all if you are sick or have been sick recently.
13. Don’t comment on the mother’s weight. She has literally pushed new life out of her body. You should be giving her an award, NOT body shaming her.
14. Don’t think that there’s only one way of parenting and that’s the “old school style”. Everything evolves, including parenting styles, according to the time and place we live in. Don’t scoff at something just because you don’t understand it.
15. Fathers aren’t just meant to contribute in the conception of the child and step back. They are supposed to take over half the parenting responsibilities too. So don’t tch tch at fathers who are stepping upto their role and parenting instead of just coming into the picture when it is time to pay the school fees.
16. We literally couldn’t care less about how children were raised in your “Zamaana“ (which by the way was just a few decades ago, not during the Roman Empire). Society changes and with it ideas do too, get on with the times.
17. Unless you are asked for it, don’t try to get people to name their child according to your wishes. Did you push the child out of your womb? No. Then stay in your lane.
18. DO NOT ASK HER WHEN SHE IS HAVING HER NEXT CHILD. Her stitches have probably not even healed fully as you are asking her this. Also, you have ZERO business discussing family planning with her. If you are so concerned about her child not having any siblings immediately after being born, feel free to get pregnant, give birth, and then gift your child to her so that her baby has company. (Edited to add: A nurse asked me as I was being wheeled out of the delivery room whether I will come back here for the second delivery. Like, let me at least get out of blood stained patient gown!)
19. Massages are great but don't ask me to vigorously massage my new born with oil like he/she is about to go wrestle. They are babies! Don’t massage them and go “ab jaake hoga dangal.” 20. Just because your grandmother’s neighbor’s nephew’s barber’s mother in law used a certain concoction of spices and herbs to heal a baby of reflux/gas/dark skin (as you consider it to be an affliction) it doesn’t mean you should suggest that recipe to each and every new mother you encounter. (Also, babies should be given only breast or formula milk till they turn 6 months, it's dangerous to give them anything else before that, unless prescribed by the doctor)
21. Don’t comment on whether a mother is staying home or returning to work after having a child. It doesn't concern you.
22. Whether she wants to stay 40 days in doors after birth or she wants to go out for a walk every once in a while is up to her. Don’t chastise her because LITERALLY NO ONE ASKED YOUR OPINION.
23. Understand more about post partum depression. It’s not a made up thing. DO NOT tell new mothers “everyone has gone through this, stop making a fuss” and belittle her struggle. If you can’t support her at least don’t mock her pain.
24. A new mother is in a highly vulnerable state- physically, emotionally, hormonally. This is a life changing phase for her. Support her, uplift her, encourage her. Don’t make her feel insecure. Don’t convince her that she doesn’t know what is best for her child. Don’t burden her with dated customs and traditions that make life difficult for her. Don’t guilt trip her. Just let her enjoy motherhood. It’s as simple as that.
Reposting this article from before I gave birth
© 2018 - Azlan. All rights reserved.