Even if she has other children, she will still go through a transition period with her new family and will still have the difficult job of recovering from childbirth.
Childbirth is a monumental phase of a woman’s life. It is physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting even under the best of circumstances. And when it’s over, the work doesn’t end there, of course.
In fact, the work of parenting has only just begun, and with it an even more exhausting, challenging, and life-altering phase: life with a new baby.
Although a postpartum mom may feel more battered and exhausted than she ever felt in her life, there is no time to quietly rest and recover because now she must care for her new baby.
If she is a first-time mom, her life will change in ways she never imagined. Even if she has other children, she will still go through a transition period with her new family and will still have the difficult job of recovering from childbirth.
If you have the privilege of visiting a new mom in the early weeks and months after she gives birth, know that your words and actions can have an impact on her more than you realize. Not only is she dealing with major life changes, but her hormones are all over the place. It’s a perfect storm only those who have been there understand.
Your job is simple: don’t make things harder for her. Don’t say anything that will leave her feeling frustrated, worried or angry. Be kind and mind your choice of words.
Don’t say something negative about the way she gave birth. Maybe she had the birth of her dreams or maybe she learned the hard way that even the best birth plans can go awry. Either way, don’t judge her about how she gave birth.
Don’t pass a judgment about how she feeds her baby. Emotions will run high early on as a woman navigates how best to feed her child. Maybe she will breastfeed or formula feed. Maybe she will do a little of both. A new mom can become wracked with guilt if her initial feeding plans don’t work out.
Don’t brag about how quickly you bounced back after birth. Having a baby completely changes a woman’s body. Some women do bounce back right away, but many don’t. For some, it takes a while, and it’s usually the last thing on a woman’s mind as she recovers from childbirth.
The first weeks and months postpartum are vulnerable times, and playing the comparison game can be devastating. So don’t give a new mom a reason to feel she’s failed in some way. If you left the hospital in your pre-baby jeans, that’s great but don’t tell her that. Have some empathy and save the story for another time.
Don’t say anything about work. If she’s on maternity leave, don’t bother her with work problems. Don’t even share the latest office gossip unless she asks to hear it, and don’t make her think about when she will be returning. For many women, that date looms overhead like an impending storm. Just let her rest and save the drama for another day.
Avoid any negative comment on her appearance. Don’t ask when or how she plans to lose the baby weight. Don’t tell her about the miracle detox you did after your baby was born. Don’t say anything except, “You look amazing.” Tell her she looks great and that you can’t even tell she just had a baby. Tell her she looks beautiful and rested.