Written by Caroline Meyer
Motherhood brings with it a lot of joy but also curiosity. Sometimes the curiosity may be inappropriate and prying and can put new mums in the middle of awkward conversations. Here are a few of the questions that are asked which mum’s may need to sidestep if they feel uncomfortable. Remember, you have the right to privacy and your choices are valid, whatever they may be.
QUESTIONS ON FERTILITY AND CONCEPTION
People may not pry into your sex life but they may ask questions such as whether or not the baby was planned. They may ask how long it took to fall pregnant and if you used fertility treatments. These questions are very personal and if you feel uncomfortable answering them, you don’t have to do so. This can be a traumatic topic for some mums as well especially if the conception took a lot of time or they have to undergo IV treatment etc.
THE BOTTLE VERSUS BREAST DEBATE
This is an ongoing topic where people feel they have the right to jump in with advice and suggestions. This is also a personal choice for new mums and there may be a lot of background and anxiousness when it comes to this topic. Research has shown that breastfeeding has a number of health benefits, but this choice is not always an option for some new mums. Formula is a tried and tested option and a valid alternative. Another topic that comes up is how long a mum should breastfeed for. Again, this is a personal choice. You may decide to breastfeed for two years or never breastfeed at all. Mums get to decide and advice is not always welcome from others on this topic.
THE NAPPY SAGA
There are pros and cons to using cloth or disposable nappies. Cloth nappies are better environmentally speaking and cheaper to use but they need a lot of extra time to clean, wash and keep hygienic and available. Disposable nappies are a lot more convenient, especially for busy mums that hold down a job as well as take care of a little one. Some mums prefer to use both, cloth at home and disposables for when they are out the home. It doesn’t matter what someone else has to say on the subject, mums get to decide the best option for them and their little ones.
GIRL OR BOY?
New mums will have many people assume the sex of the baby without asking. If you are asked the gender directly, this makes things a little easier. You can introduce your child by name, although gender neutral names can still lead to the same confusion. Mistaking your child’s gender is a very common mistake. Try not to get upset and correct the person on the gender, or not if it is a casual acquaintance or random stranger if you prefer not to discuss it further.
CIRCUMCISION YAY OR NAY?
This is another highly personal decision that new mums need only discuss with their partners and no one else unless they want to. There is plenty research on the side of future benefits but not enough evidence to conclusively prove which is better one way or another. For many new parents this decision may be based on religion or whether or not dad is circumcised. At the end of the day, new parents do not need to get involved in a discussion on whether or not to circumcise their child with anyone except their paediatrician.
THE CHOICE OF NAMES
Unless you ask someone for input on this topic, your choice of baby’s name is not a topic for debate. Most parents think long and hard on the perfect name to name their baby. While other people may not like the name, may think it is too trendy or old-fashioned or whatever reason they believe it unsuitable, it is not their decision. Unless someone is offering positive feedback, you don’t have to buy in to advice or comments on the choice of a name for your child.
STAYING AT HOME OR GOING BACK TO WORK
This can be a very emotionally charged topic. Everyone’s challenges are different and new mums should be supported in their choices. For most mums, their situation may demand they return to work even though they would prefer to stay home. Not having a choice can be quite traumatic as well. Mums do not have to justify their choice and this is again, a very personal decision. New mums can lay out the pros and cons and make decisions based on their personal circumstances. No debate needed.
ADVICE ON BABY’S DEVELOPMENT
A lot of mums will get input from others on their baby’s development and size. This can cause new mums to become overly concerned and stressed. Unless it is the doctor telling you that you need to be concerned about the rate of your child’s growth and development, you can brush off the questions from others. Some babies will be faster or slower than others and no amount of negative input will change this. New mums can be given advice on topics such as the best baby bum cream to use, but certainly not on how fast or slow a baby is with sitting, crawling, walking etc.
Many people will try to guess at why a baby is crying. As a new mum, you will get to learn your baby’s cries or know from routine what the problem is. If your baby cries and it is not based on the usual reasons such as hunger, tiredness, dirty nappy, requiring comfort etc., then have your baby checked by your paediatrician to ensure it is not due to illness or pain. At the end of the day, you will be the one that knows your baby best.
HOW TO PARENT
There are almost as many parenting styles as there are parents. There is plenty research on the internet on a wide variety of styles and their impact on babies and children over the years. How parents decide to parent is ultimately up to them. Despite all the research, parenting is not an exact science and no one can tell new parents how best to raise their children.
BODY COMMENTS ARE UNACCEPTABLE
During pregnancy, after pregnancy and really at any time, commenting on a woman’s body in a negative way is unacceptable. Comments on how much weight you put on, how much you lost or didn’t lose, how tired you look or really any comments that have negative connotations are a big no-no. Unless someone is commenting on how great your new haircut looks, they should refrain from voicing comments which may impact negatively when it comes to you or your body. Feel free to let them know that they are out of line.
As a new mum, you may also want to share your birth experience with others, especially if you have a wonderful pregnancy and birth. Unless someone asks, this can be an insensitive topic to bring up around other new mums as some may have had very traumatic experiences. As new parents, you should feel empowered to make the decisions on what is best for you and your little one. Know that it is okay to ask people to butt-out on private topics or to ask for advice on those same topics if you need it.