12 Things You Should ALWAYS Say To A New Mum

"Yes Darrin, I do believe the Virgin Mary would be well jel of how serenely I handle Baby Tabitha..."

“Yes Darrin, I do believe the Virgin Mary would be well jel of how serenely I handle Baby Tabitha…” [Bewitched, ABC]

You need to tread carefully around a first-time mum. Say the wrong thing and you could find yourself more unpopular than a bottle of formula at a breastfeeding support group. And as there’s plenty of stuff out there advising on the things you should never say to a new mum, I thought I’d be really clever and do the opposite, putting a positive spin on the negatives; thus pretending that, unlike the impression you might get from my other blog posts so far, I’m a really sunny person. Well, actually you won’t get that impression from this one either. Nevertheless, I have more top tips to share, this time for the beleaguered family and friends of a new mother, who might otherwise unwittingly detonate a post-baby bomb with the wrong choice of words/ tone/ slightly sideways glance. So here they are – 12 things you should ALWAYS say to a new mum…

“You really do suit the mental, homeless look.”
When you pay a visit to a woman who’s just had a baby, don’t be alarmed if she answers the door looking fit to kill, with a piece of toast stuck to her left cheek, wearing a dressing gown that could feature in a Tracy Emin installation. Firstly, she’ll be very angry she’s had to answer the door herself and secondly, she’ll probably be so short of sleep and time, personal upkeep is generally limited to a wet wipe wash. Just tell her she looks better than ever and don’t mention that her unbrushed teeth are starting to resemble Shane MacGowan’s.
You must NEVER say: “Did you know you have sick in your hair and a tit hanging out?” Chances are she didn’t and you know what they say, ignorance is bliss. Like an incontinent nan at Christmas, reeking and muttering, leave her be. If you know what’s good for you.

“Apparently, celebs everywhere are having cosmetic surgery to get their breasts to emulate the cover of a National Geographic.”
It has to be said, pregnancy and breastfeeding will drain the life out of a pair of once perky baps, so it’s hard not to stare at a nursing mum’s boobs when they tend to flop heavily to her belly button. It’s true she looks like an indigenous elderly woman of the Amazon and needs scaffolding not a bra – but the real support she’ll need is from her fibbing friends and family, all telling her (especially when she stops feeding and they shrivel, rather aptly, like post-party balloons), her rack is just fine.
You must NEVER say: “Did Sting ever manage to save your natural habitat..?”

“You could definitely get your baby a big gazillion-pound modelling contract if you wanted to.”
A mother’s love is of course, massive but even she knows the baby acne and crusty cradle cap makes her darling newborn look like a week-old pastry. So she’ll always appreciate it when others take the time to pretend hers is the cutest baby they’ve ever laid eyes on, and make the effort to not obviously recoil at the prospect of holding her scaly offspring. And in truth, most babies are born a bit battered and bruised. Those people you see shuddering and shakily hunting for fags outside hospital automatic doors? They’re not sick. They’re the relatives of newborn babies, reeling from shock…
You must NEVER say: “What is it?”

“I think it’s great that you were so drugged up, you were off your melon for the birth.”
There’s this weird, unspoken competitiveness among some mums that if they didn’t have an epidural for their birth they should get some sort of Pride of Britain award. Birth stories are often swapped like tales of ‘Nam, with the blood, commotion and pain threshold escalating each time. How a woman chooses to give birth is of course up to her, but there’s a lot to be said for being able to thumb a copy of OK! magazine while pushing a baby out of your vagina.
You must NEVER say: “Epidural? Lazy bitch! Why not just get a general anaesthetic and Pickfords to do the job..?”

“I went out last night and it was completely shit.”
No mum, new or otherwise, really enjoys hearing about the hugely enjoyable evening had by everyone but her, because she was at home attempting to cut her toenails in between retreating upstairs a zillion times. Tell her that you also went to bed at 9.30pm, after a fairly dull evening, with the only highlight being lots of people saying how much they were enjoying her endless stream of baby photos on Facebook. Should compensate a little for those uncut toenails…
You must NEVER say: “You missed a brilliant night last night. It’s a shame you can’t really go out any more…” You smug twat. Yes you have a social life, but at least she’ll have someone to check she’s still breathing when she’s fallen asleep with her mouth open in front of Bargain Hunt.

“The Virgin Mary would be well jel of how serenely you handle that baby.”
When you see a new mum dangerously trying to fry bacon/ drive a car/ juggle knives while holding a baby, it’s tempting, and obviously quite right, to suggest that she, maybe, perhaps, just-a-suggestion, shouldn’t do that. BUT DON’T. She might explode violently in your face or break down in a flood of rasping tears. Instead, try a diversionary tactic such as wafting a Kit Kat Chunky under her nose and then lead her, like a dog with a chew toy, to a lovely, waiting cup of tea to drink with it. Then gently prise the baby out of her arms, observe while she inhales that Kit Kat Chunky like a bulimic and tell her you’re amazed at what a natural she is with this motherhood lark.
You must NEVER say: “I’m calling the police…”

“I can’t believe she said that! What a bitch!”
A knackered new mum will often take advice and suggestions, especially unsolicited, the wrong way, and will rant to her other half/ sister/ best friend for hours, sometimes days, about a misjudged remark. As the long-suffering listener, your job is to tut in all the right places and exclaim, on demand, “she never?!” You might also like to throw in the odd, ‘fuck her’ for good, authentic measure.
You must NEVER say: “Are you sure that’s what she meant?” Yes of course, when The Woman Round The Corner asked how she was, The Woman Round The Corner was really inferring she was a terrible mother who deserved to die. What do you take her for? A tired, oversensitive, neurotic new mum?

“Your baby is so completely and utterly the perfect weight and size, I bet other babies hate her.”
As a lot of dads in charge of announcing the baby’s arrival will know, there are four bits of information they need to relay: gender, name, time he or she was born and birth weight. Miss out that last vital fact and expect to get a lot of bemused texts back demanding this oversight be redressed – like the baby’s birth can’t possibly be celebrated without it. But the real irritation is the subsequent weight-obsession from people, not members of the medical profession, who love to pass comment on a baby’s size throughout his or her first year. For the record, no mum wants to hear her child is very tiny or really fat. And spare a thought for the poor dad whose ear will be bent for hours, sometimes days, after…
You must NEVER say: “Blimey, she’s got bingo wings bigger than a dinner lady’s…”

“You are a much better mum than me in every single way.”
Grandparents, aunties, uncles, friends, workmates, the Woman Round The Corner – with or without children of their own – all have ideas on the best way to raise a child. Aside from the stuff her addled brain will blow out of proportion, a first-time mum will undoubtedly encounter a lot of judgey questions: “Why would you leave him to cry?”; “You use a dummy?”; “Do you really need seven baby monitors?” Once you’ve established her intention is to keep her child both alive and happy, it’s time to park the passive-aggressive inquisition.
You must NEVER say: “We didn’t do that in my day, blah, blah, blah…” Back off, Grandma. If you had your way, that child would be wearing a bonnet like a baby in Downtown and going on walking holidays, in a sensible anorak, with you and Granddad until he was 25.

“The baby looks like you, just you, no one else.”
Deep down, somewhere in our subconscious, our real reasons for breeding are not to keep the world populated with lovely, kind people, (yawn, yawn) – it’s so we have our faces, in smaller, cuter, wide-eyed form, looking back at us of course. So when someone, innocuously and casually observes how little a new baby resembles his mother, despite her feigned nonchalance, you can bet she’s a little wounded. And if it’s the hundredth time she’s heard it, look closely to see her brow furrow slightly, eyes narrow a tad and rest assured, just below those faintly pursed lips, she is suppressing angry language so blue, it would make Gordon Ramsay tut disapprovingly.
You must NEVER say: “Blimey, you don’t even look related!” Brace yourself. A torrent of effing and jeffing is about to be unleashed in your face with the velocity of projectile vomit.

“My word, I’ve never seen such a fresh-faced, youthful beauty.”
Make no mistake, there’s nothing like childbirth and looking after a newborn to rapidly age a woman. As she bimbles about the house, forgetting why she’s walked into a room and then remembers it’s because she’s just had a baby that needs feeding, she feels like she’s aged about 10 years over the course of a fortnight. Be mindful of this when you see her in those early weeks – back hunched, face withered like the dwarf in Don’t Look Now and knees creaking as she lumbers awkwardly down the stairs to greet you. Supress that gasp and instead, very quickly trot out this stock line: “I can’t believe you’ve just had a baby and look this good!” Her bloodshot eyes will crease with pride and cat’s bum mouth, unclench into a chuffed, gnarled smile.
You must NEVER say: “Did you make the papers when you gave birth, Nana?”

“If and when you choose to have a second baby is absolutely and categorically none of my business.”
Somewhere between the six month mark and the baby’s first birthday, people start fishing to see if there are any plans for a second child. Why this would matter to other people exactly isn’t clear, but it does apparently and a new mum who might be enjoying a bit more sleep of late, often finds herself batting away irritating ‘baby two’ questions. And if she’s ever spied declining an alcoholic beverage, or within a mile radius of the ovulation kits and pregnancy tests in Boots, she is certainly, most definitely, without question, up the stick.
You must NEVER say: “Hark! Is that the sound of your ovaries drying up? Chop, chop, time to put out again…”

So that’s your lot. There are of course, more than 12 things you should always/ never say to a new mum, but I’ve just spied a Kit Kat Chunky and delicious cup of tea and I’ve lost my train of thought…


Copyright belongs to Word To The Mothers – so please don’t nick me stuff!

Discussions — 10 Responses

  • Sarah filby March 3, 2015 on 9:28 am

    I’m crying with laughter . Even more so as I read this while eating a kit kat chunky !!!!

  • Karen Hockney March 3, 2015 on 12:18 pm

    Brilliant as usual. Thank God my ovaries have dried up and I can’t go back to this….

    • zeena2001 Karen Hockney March 3, 2015 on 12:21 pm

      Haha! Bleuuuurgh! xxxx

  • lorryjones March 3, 2015 on 1:29 pm

    Hilarious. Opening line was brilliant.

  • Caroline Elliott March 3, 2015 on 1:46 pm

    Brilliant Zeen!

  • Tiggy Latcham March 3, 2015 on 1:52 pm

    You got it, Zee!!! Made I laaffff. I love the “You could definitely get your baby a big gazillion-pound modelling contract if you wanted to.” one. My first baby never slept and, carless, I resorted to walking him round the neighbourhood in the buggy where he’d sit bolt upright with eyes wide as . . . something wide . . . , trying to take in EVERYTHING in this new world unless I put a blanket over the hood to pretend nothing was happening at all. One day I walked past a building site where one comedic bricky asked “Ugly baby?”!!!

  • Karen Mosley March 3, 2015 on 6:05 pm

    On top form here Zee! Marvellous, darling xx

  • zeena2001 March 3, 2015 on 10:36 pm

    Thank you for kind comments, as ever! Tiggy, I LOVE that builder. Lets track him down via The Gift and thank him for making me laugh on a bad potty-training day..?. Xx

  • Carla March 5, 2015 on 4:48 pm

    LOVE!!! Brilliant as per usual