My little family and I were recently at a family BBQ and it had been so long since we’ve seen my partner’s extended family, we were really enjoying ourselves in everyone’s company. But there was one thing I kept hearing that got tedious with me real fast.
I received comments saying, “You look skinnier/smaller/slimmer. You are almost back to your old (pre-baby) size”, and variations of such. I politely responded with a smile and a ‘thank you’ because I know it’s coming from a good place and they mean well. People wanted to ask about me and not ask about my baby because they care. I get it. But why did it have to be about my size or weight or lack thereof?
There are many things you can say to a mum (and not just new mums, all mums) that are not about her weight or her baby.
If you want to be helpful.
This is most applicable to mums with very small babies, be it her first one or not, but it’s still applicable to all mums too. In fact, if you really want to be helpful just go ahead and do things for her, because she’s probably going to feel guilty asking for any sort of help from anyone. But if you want to be polite and ask her, just position the question to get a simple yes or no answer (don’t leave it open-ended).
- “How many sugars do you take in your tea/coffee?”
- “I’m going to do your dishes/take out your rubbish/walk your dog.”
- “Can I hold your baby while you eat/sleep/shower/get some fresh air?” (The letting her eat part is very applicable for BBQ situations too.)
- “What is your favourite meal?” (Then drop it over at her house.)
- “If I send you a list of things I can help you with, do you promise to tick at least one of them?”
Think about her wellbeing.
People genuinely want to know how she's doing but she'll often give the standard answer 'I'm good thanks, and you?'. Don't settle for this. You also shouldn't straight up ask if she’s tired or mention that she looks tired (yes, people do that). Of course she is. Be genuine about her wellbeing or make her feel better.
- "You are doing a great job/You're a good mother."
- "I admire how you handled that." (This is in the same line as the above and it can apply to a screaming baby, poo-nami nappy change or how she handles her older kids.)
- "You look happy and full of love/joy."
- "Take it moment to moment." (This is not advice, it's just reminder.)
- "It's so good to see you, thanks for making time." (Mums generally don't get much time to herself, so you're letting her know that you appreciate her time.)
LISTEN: Should women stop the post-baby bikini shots?
Allow her a chance to just talk, about anything.
It doesn't always have to be about helping her or her wellbeing. Sometimes she just needs to have adult conversations.
- "Have you been watching The Bachelorette or [insert another TV show here]?" (New mums can be super into TV shows because there's not a lot she can do while feeding baby.)
- "I saw a nice cafe close to here, would you like to go?" (Caffeine is always a good idea.)
- "Do you want to go for a walk?" (Getting out of the house can be overwhelming but with you, she's got an extra pair of hands - she will welcome of your suggestion for fresh air.)
Empathise with her.
OK, this one does somewhat speak a little about her kids but it's a goodie. Instead of asking her questions, you remove the shame and go straight to the mutual strife all mums experience.
- Try and find something in common with her, such as acknowledging her mum-challenges. ("It's a tough gig, hey.")
- Empathising with her e.g. if her child is crying. ("My son/newphew/cousin/etc cried the same way, you can only do so much")
- Give her a smile with kindness in your eyes.
What's the most annoying comment you've received after having a baby? Tell us in the comments below.