I have found that the hardest part about this time of year for new moms is the constant “Questioning of What They Are Up To”. You cannot attend even the simplest function without someone asking: “Does your baby sleep through?,” “Have you started solids?” Actually most mom’s are managing just fine thank-you very much and if they haven’t asked for help then they shouldn’t have to endure it!
As for advising new moms, it is far nicer to just tell them they are doing a great job and their baby is gorgeous. Costs you nothing to compliment and that can give a new mom unlimited confidence to cope with her day.
That being said, it really helped me to have thought through some of the common questions and to have made up my mind on how to respond to them.
- If you are pregnant: This is no time for heroics, unfortunately you are unable to do anything but lie around and be helpless – remember you are growing a baby that is your full time job. Really put your feet up, I had to do this se7en times before I figured it out. This is about the only time ever that it is ok to collapse in a heap so do it – just collapse and put your feet up. The crazy season will be back year after year, but you will only be growing this little baby once.
- A newborn: With a fresh newborn you will have so many offers to hold the baby so that you can get something done. The secret here is a mother and baby are a couple, time apart just means both of you will be grumpy and that can mean intensely grumpy. The thing to say is: I need to hold my baby Won’t you wash the dishes, sweep the floor,… whatever. I have never had anyone say no!
- Lot’s of unwelcome hands: Sometimes it feels like everyone want to hold my baby, especially in a crowd. People with streaming colds and whatever – hmmmm. I for one would rather hold my own baby. I carried it for nine months I have earned the right to hold it! Also there comes a time when your baby will become more discerning and won’t want to go to anyone else. I have found that if I pop my baby in a sling and say: I think he/she is happy there, let’s not disturb him/her, that people tend to let the issue go.
- Growth Spurts: Suddenly at six weeks and twelve weeks your baby will go through a growth spurt – and you may wonder what on earth is going on. It wants to nurse continuously and every time you put it down it needs to nurse again. Really simple solution, collapse with your baby and let it nurse… they are so clever at building the milk supply to whatever level they need it to be. This really lets you off socializing – just cancel as much as possible for a day or two and chill out with your baby.
- At three to four months: Your baby will suddenly become distracted when nursing and the little charmer that nursed and napped suddenly wants to see the whole wide world while nursing… now is the time to say “I think my baby needs a nap,” even if it doesn’t and go and nurse in a quiet spot. It will give you both a chance to re-charge.
- Six months: Now the onslaught of questions really begin, not to mention people think your baby has reached the food milestone and they can pop all sorts of treats into that little mouth… Now you have to watch your little one more than ever! If your baby has started solids then Christmas dinner at old aunt whatsit’s is not the best time to try 11 different new foods. It always seems to be custard… there is a whole world of people that think your new eater should have some custard: dairy, egg, etc a firm no-thank-you and the father person would be furious stops these types in their tracks!
- Advice: Arm yourself beforehand with answers to all the pokey questions that perfect strangers feel quite free to ask you… I love people that offer advice and then say “Is that your first?” and I say “No, my se7enth!” they tend to turn a bit grey!!! Really for some reason people seem to think you are waiting for advice on how often to feed and how long to nurse your baby. When your baby should nap and so on. Decide in advance to get your advice from people who have been there and done that. And people who have the latest scientific and medical research at their finger tips. Call your local La Leche League Leader. It will cost you nothing (except the cost of the phone call). Somehow I have found help from a friendly La Leche League Leader who has been there and done that is so much better than unasked for advice from an ancient relative that never even nursed a baby!!!
Enough already – I could literally go on all night about this, but I am stopping for your sake. I can only expect anyone to endure so much, I know it is a diatribe but I fell strongly about it. New moms are doing enough without having all their ideas challenged. Just tell them they and their baby are a great couple and everyone will feel so much better for it!