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Welcoming a new baby into the family is something that excites everyone involved – and as Indians, we take it very seriously! Many of us live in close-knit households and have the extended family and relatives coming over to visit at this time. While all they want to do is see the new member, and ask about your health, they often end up being really CRUEL. Yes, we mean that! They may not intend to harm you or your baby in any way, but can unknowingly do just that! So, what are we talking about? It is only when we see how damaging these things are that we can stop them from happening!
When you look back on your baby’s first few months, you may have a rose-tinted, pretty view that disregards the sleepless and exhausted state of mind you had during those days! It is a challenge to take care of your baby when your body is also recovering from the experience of childbirth. Plus, we are in an overwhelmed state at this time, worried about everything from what diapers to choose to whether baby is feeding well to our abilities as a mother! This is why so many guests decide to pop in and help a new mother out…
But hey, how much ‘help’ do they really give to the new mother and her child? Is she really pampered by all the visitors and family members or do they add to her stress? Many new mothers have found that some visitors end up being unintentionally cruel, despite having gone through the same experience themselves. Let’s keep in mind the following most common cruel things that people have done to new moms!
1. We offer to ‘hold the baby’, and just that
“Let me hold the baby while you do A, B and C.”
How many times have you heard this from ‘helpful’ guests? Many people just offer to hold the baby while the new mommy works. It’s best to avoid doing this unless the new mom asks you to. We are sensitive about our baby and may be apprehensive about letting others hold them. Instead, it is better to take some chores off a mom’s hands by helping her a bit around the house!
2. We ask her for food and snacks
New moms need as much rest as possible but they get among the least! They need all their energy to focus on the baby’s care. So visiting her home and expecting (or even demanding) a full meal, snacks, tea or coffee is just plain cruel. She really is in no state to entertain visitors who expect to be waited upon. Instead, guests should really bring some food or healthy snacks as a nice gesture!
3. We ring the doorbell or visit without warning
Newborns sleep as much as 16-17 hours a day and more often than not will be sleeping when you go over. Plus, moms tend to catch up on sleep when the baby is sleeping. They get very little sleep at night. Ringing the doorbell can ruin these precious hours of peace she gets! Not only is her baby up but may also get cranky and start crying at the sudden noise. It’s much better to be more courteous and contact a new mum for a suitable time to visit. Also, we need to let her know when we are outside to avoid clanking a noisy doorbell.
4. We go for a visit when we are sick
This is probably among the cruelest of all things we can do to a new mom! Babies are still developing their immune system and they require maximum possible protection from germs. If you visit when you are sick, you may end up infecting the little one with your germs and cause additional worries for the new mom. So stay away if you are unwell, and whenever you do hold the baby, don’t forget to wash your hands first!
5. We give unwanted advice to ‘help’ moms
“Have you started formula? Why are you not nursing?”
“You should try and massage him in the evening…”
“I think you are not making her sleep well.”
90% of us are perhaps guilty of this one! We think our advice on baby food, sleep and parenting will help the new mother do better and feel more assured. But it doesn’t work like that! Most new moms are already anxious and confused enough without you telling her what good parents do and don’t do. Unwanted advice will only end up adding to her worries about her parenting abilities as she goes about in her new role as a mom. Ground rule: unless the mom asks you for some advice, do not give her any.
6. We stay TOO long
It is easy to overlook this, so busy we are gushing over the new baby and the mother. But in reality, new moms have very little time during the day. They have to manage taking care of their baby, managing the house, and taking care of their own health too. In between all this, your overstaying eats up her time and tires her out more. Let’s be considerate and keep our visits short.
7. We are too ‘honest’ about the baby and how he looks
“Oh, your baby is so dark!”
“Doesn’t he look very thin and underweight?”
Whew, the worst thing to do to a new mother is to not gush over the new baby and his cuteness! You may not think the baby is the cutest you have seen, or the healthiest, but it’s better to drop in a line or two of positivity and delight instead of being blunt and critical. The baby is the most precious thing for moms and they’ve been through a lot to bring them into the world. A certain amount of appreciation will make her day and make her feel better emotionally not your ‘honest’ criticism and feedback!
8. And yet, we forget to ask about her health and mood
We are so considerate and interested in the new baby, so full of advice. But despite all that, we often forget to focus on the one who brought him in our midst! On one hand, while you should not forget to coo over her baby, don’t skip out on asking about her either! With everyone focusing on the young one, not a lot of people pay attention to the new mom and this can make her feel ignored. She needs love and attention too and expects this from people who come over.
Early motherhood is a time to be cherished and enjoyed. But it also brings along its fair (and immense!) share of responsibilities along with a bundle of joy. Let’s not add to these responsibilities by doing cruel things to new moms. Your thoughtfulness can add to the memorable experience of the new moms you know!