While babies are exciting, there seems to be a very thin line between making meaningful conversation with their parents and verbal explosion, the kind that has you making a complete idiot of yourself, and possibly even annoying the new parents. Here are five questions and general topics you are better off avoiding in a conversation with a new mother.
Are you breastfeeding or bottle feeding?
As a general rule of thumb, how the child is fed is none of your business. On a more serious note though, a lot of new mothers experience difficulty breastfeeding despite their desire to nurse their infants and might resort to formula milk.
Generally, avoid asking this question, not unless you have no issue coming off as a breastfeeding supremacist. Plus, whether you approve of formula milk or not, there is no need of judging the new mother. She is probably doing the best she can for her child, given the circumstances. No need to burden her further with the weight of your judgment.
Will you try for a girl?
By asking this question, you are assuming that the new mother is not interested in their baby and that they should want another child – a child of the opposite sex. Of course, this question is a bit personal, and under such circumstances improper. You’d be surprised not a lot of people want to talk about intimate family planning details just a few days after they have had a baby.
When will you be going back to work?
A bit of a catch 22 question. New mums are judged whether they go back to work seemingly early or much later. If they go back after a few weeks or months, they are often told that they are neglecting their children, and have somehow indicated that they have no interest in child rearing.
If they prefer to go back to work much later or decide to stay at home indefinitely, they are chastized for lazing around. It is often assumed that child care is neither labour-intensive nor emotionally demanding in any way. This is definitely a gray area that you want to steer clear of. Allow the new mother to enjoy the time she has with the baby, without any anxiety about work.
Why do you still look pregnant?
Any questions about the appearance of a new mum, or about her weight or body shape are totally inappropriate. There is no debate about this. This is a no-go zone. A number of times the question is followed by dietary advice or remarks about the importance of an early exercise regimen. Of course this armchair critic advice more often than not neglects to take into account the ever-increasing energy needs of a new mother, or the fact that some mothers just want to focus their time and attention on nurturing their new child.
Yes, every new mum has realized that her weight is not ideal. But trust me, there is no need to body shame her and attempt to induce an eating disorder. And let’s not forget that such a question reinforces age-old stereotypes about how a woman’s body should look like. Not cool!
Did you have a natural birth?
Are you kidding? No! No! No! It is no secret, labour is an unpleasant experience for most mothers, especially if there were complications. A lot of mothers are very concerned about their child coming into the world safely. How exactly the child comes into the world is besides the point. Let it be the same for you.
Additionally, do not ask any questions about whether an episiotomy was performed, or how healing is taking place. Anything to do with the new mother’s nether regions is completely personal, and really not something you want to bring up. Plus, depending on your gender and sexual orientation, asking such a question could end up sounding very creepy.
So what are some of the questions that you can ask a new mum? Do you need any help with that? When would you like me to volunteer to watch over the baby? How could I be of assistance? How would you like me to help you? Well, perhaps there are better questions you could ask that don’t revolve around offering assistance, but this is always a good place to start.
Crystal is a mother of three wonderful children and founder of MakeYourBabyLaugh. She started to write the blog to help mothers and fathers who are struggling to raise their children. She loved to travel. Her dream is to travel around the world with her family.
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