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the most hurtful help to give to a new mum
The Most Hurtful Help To Give To A New Mum

The Stage Is Set

Many women feel out of their depth when it comes to being a mum, and giving birth is 9 months of expectation made manifest suddenly in the flesh. It can feel like a tidal wave washing over you, where you are struggling, just to catch a breath for a second. Our insecurities as women come out during this time in ways that we never thought possible, and also the pride of others starts to rear its ugly head.

Comments that we would have brushed off before, now become intensely personal, and mothers that no longer have the chicks in the house start clucking advice, often without it being wanted.

Support Doesn’t Damage

From my own experience, I know how hurtful it can be when people offer help to new mums that are actually damaging, instead of supportive. I also know how overwhelming it can be when you become a new mum and everyone around you starts offering unsolicited advice. As much as you may appreciate the help and support of family, friends and colleagues, there are some comments that can come across as unhelpful and even hurtful. 

A Heads Up

This article is here to help you identify the most hurtful help that some people may give to new mums, so that you can be aware of what to look out for, so that you can be aware of the boundaries between helpful and hurtful assistance.

The Real Word On The Street

I’ve had the experience of hearing some of the most hurtful advice given to me when I had my first baby. Comments like “He looks so skinny”, “Let me do it for you, because you don’t know how to do it right”, “He isn’t getting enough sleep, look how tired he is”, “You need to start feeding him more food because breastfeeding isn’t enough”, “You look so fat, why are you gaining so much weight?”, and even as extreme as “If you don’t know how to raise your child, then you shouldn’t have given birth in the first place” (yes, you read it right, this was said to me by a very close family member) – can all be incredibly damaging to a new mum’s mental health.

As surprising as some of these comments might sound to people, I’ve talked to a number of mums who have not only heard comments like these, but ones that are far worse. 

You Aren’t Alone

As professional working mums, it is important to remember that we don’t have to take on the world alone. We need to set boundaries and create a strong support system of family and friends who will be there to help us, not judge us.

1. “Let me do it for you because you don’t know how to do it right”

The Matriarchal Power Struggle

Offering to do things for them, such as “Let me do it for you because you don’t know how to do it right”, indicates an underlying message that you are not good enough, and that “I know better than you, I’m a better mum than you”, and comes across as offensive, domineering, and incredibly hurtful to a new mum. 

Domineering Relationships & Maternal Jealousy

Psychologically, people who feel the need to say these things have a tendency to show their dominance in the household, deep down are prideful, envious, and insecure of their position in the family. It’s best to ask new mums what they need and how you can be of assistance rather than taking over.

2. “You need to start feeding him more food because breastfeeding isn’t enough”

Feelings Of Maternal Inadequacy

This comment, especially given in the contextual timing of a baby transitioning from breastfeeding to having solid food (around the 6-month mark, but it might vary for different people), while sounding “matter-of-fact” because “that’s what they/the doctors/the nurses say”, may make a new mum feel inadequate and sad. I remember myself having my first kid years ago, seeing the little baby cuddling up to me, asking for milk, and drifting off to sleep on the bed, feeling an incredible sense of joy (while exhausted from lack of sleep) as a mother. 

The Maternal Bond

While this might be different for some, new mums usually are extremely attached to the physical bonds with their baby, and this manifests through the biologically necessary act of breast-feeding. It’s okay to take pride in being a mum and the only one with a God-given gift to nurture babies in such a unique and irreplaceable way.

Separation Anxiety & Spoons

Some mums can feel a sense of “separation anxiety”. As your baby grows and develops their needs and as those needs change your role in the relationship, being pushed to remove breastfeeding from your child’s diet can be surprisingly stressful. Weaning needs to be done in conjunction with the mum, and many mums forget how much crying was involved during the process. 

3. “You’re too stressed out”

This might be the most hurtful help to give a new mum, as it can make her feel like she’s not doing enough or that she’s not coping. In reality, life as a new mum is full of stress and pressure, and it’s perfectly normal to experience feelings of overwhelm.

4. “Take care of yourself first”

This can be hard to hear for a new mum because it can make her feel like she’s not putting her baby first. New mums already feel guilty enough about not being able to do everything, so this can make them feel worse.

5. “You’re not doing enough for your baby”

This can make new mums feel guilty and make them feel like they’re not doing enough for their baby. It’s important to remember that every mum is doing the best she can for her baby and that no two babies are the same.

6. “Let someone else take care of your baby”

This can be a really hurtful comment to make to a new mum, as it can make her feel like she’s not capable of taking care of her own baby. It can also make her feel like she’s not spending enough time with her baby.

7. “You’re not allowed to feel depressed, you have a long way ahead of you raising a child”

This can be a damaging comment to make because it can make a new mum feel like she’s not allowed to feel the way she’s feeling. It’s important to remember that postnatal depression is common and that new mums can experience a range of emotions, including depression.

8. “You shouldn’t ask for help”

This can be a damaging comment to make because it can make a new mum feel like she shouldn’t ask for help. It’s important for new mums to know that it’s ok to ask for help and that it’s ok to accept help from friends and family.

Don’t Let It Get To You

Hopefully sharing some of these comments and situations has helped you realise that you’re not alone in this whole experience of motherhood. There are so many women out there experiencing different pains both physically and emotionally, and we need to lift the veil on this topic so women can stop feeling isolated. 

I’d love to invite you to become part of our women’s community where we can’t promise perfection, but we try our best to support one another. Having a community of women for support as a new mum is important.

Maybe you have a story that you would like to share, or a comment that someone made to you that hurt, but you could see the person didn’t even know it. Maybe you’d like to speak to someone, and I’d like to invite you to book a time in with me to have a chat if you feel that would help.

Contact Simone Lord

Simone Lord is a keynote speaker, women’s health specialist, lifestyle coach, mentor, and family finance advisor.

Reference Links

5 Reasons Moms Get Jealous of Their Daughters

23 Worst Things To Say To A New Mum

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