Know a new mum? Tread carefully. She's probably a fragile thing, dealing with lack of sleep, hormones and a large serving of what-the-heck-is-going on. It's REALLY EASY to say the wrong thing to a new mum, without even meaning to. One minute, you're having a lovely chat over a cuppa as she introduces you to her new bundle of joy, the next she's crying snotty tears and making excuses for you to leave. No one wants to be that friend, so do your homework first and avoid saying the following:
1. Oh your baby is so small!What new mum will hear: Ooh your baby might be a bit too small. Are you feeding your baby properly? Is your baby putting on enough weight? Are you looking after your baby properly?
A new baby putting on weight is a huge deal to a mum - there's even a graph in every baby's red NHS book that health visitors plot at every weigh-in so that mums can know exactly how
2. So... how long have you been *judgey pause* bottle feeding?What new mum will hear: You're BOTTLE FEEDING YOUR BABY? Are you mad? You do realise that formula milk is basically poison and you're a bad mum for giving it to your child?
Even if you're quietly impressed that your friend has managed to get her baby to take a bottle, commenting on it will only tap into her deepest fears - that it's the wrong thing to do. Even though it's clearly fine and very often the best thing a mum can do for her baby. Yeah, you heard me, I said it. (Disclaimer: I believe every mum should do what's right for them when it comes to feeding their baby.)
3. So... how long are you planning on *awkward pause... waves in the direction of your bosom* breastfeeding?What new mum will hear: It's a bit weird, that breastfeeding. And do you have to keep getting your boobs out when I'm around? It makes me feel a bit uncomfortable and I don't know where to look.
I actually had someone say this to me, when my baby was around four months old. It made me smile, because it was so at-odds with the usual pro-breastfeeding/anti-formula message I was so used to hearing.
4. What's that yellow tinge to the baby's skin?What new mum will hear: Your newborn is sick and needs to go back to hospital. Call the post-natal ward now!
FYI it's jaundice and 60% of new babies have it in their first week because of a build-up of bilirubin in the blood. But commenting on the appearance of a new baby (apart from saying "She's beautiful!") is always a bad idea, because new mums are still in panic-mode. Is the baby too hot? Too cold? Is that jaundice or is it just the yellow light in this room? Should he have this much dry skin? Should her poo be that colour?
5. Oh, so long as you don't become one of those mums, posting endless photos of your baby on Facebook!What new mum will hear: No one wants to see 100 photos of your baby. We're all out having fun, downing shots on a Saturday night before having a reeeaaally long lie-in the next morning. That's the kind of stuff we want to see on Facebook. Not babies. And NOT moany status updates about lack of sleep and night feeds.
The thing is, even if a new mum doesn't want to become one of those mums, she probably will. I fought it for so long, determined not to become a baby bore on Facebook, and then I thought 'Do you know what? My baby rocks and she is the biggest thing in my life and I'm OK with that.'
6. You look amazing! I bet you're back into your pre-pregnancy jeans again?What new mum will hear: You look fat. Your belly is all wobbly. Your body will never be the same again. Ever.
Another just-don't-go-there topic. New mums feel crap about their body. Even if she's managed to get herself into a trendy top and skinny jeans when you see her, she's probably just focused on the jelly-like rolls of skin underneath it all, and her hard leaky boobs which are threatening to spurt all over her top, in a truly embarrassing fashion.
7. Enjoy every second of it - they grow up so fast.What new mum will hear: You're not allowed to find this hard. Don't even think about complaining about how tired you are. You have to cherish every-single-second. Or else you're a bad mum.
Some mums do cherish every second, of course, but most of us find it exhausting, challenging and actually, on some days, it's just the thought of a cold glass of wine at 7pm that gets us through the day. Yes kids do grow up fast, but new mums are allowed to struggle as they get to grips with this new reality. It's hard to cherish every moment when it's so bloody hard.
If you're a mum, what kind of things did people say to you, as a new mum, that made you want to poke them in the eye?
Photography: Caroline Gue at CP Photography