By BIANCA CARTER
It’s a challenging time for women shortly after giving birth. Not only are hormones still running amok, but having to deal with the trauma of birth, especially all of the body changes, is not fun. Adjusting to life with a newborn is not always seamless, even for a seasoned parent. Pair that with the lack of sleep, and it can become very overwhelming.
Many people want to offer their support and help during this time, and most of those thoughtful gestures are appreciated, but there are some things that you should never ask a woman who has just given birth.
Here are seven questions you should never ask:
- How long did it take?
Not only has she just gone through one of, if not the most, painful experience ever, but reminding her of it shortly after giving birth is not the most sympathetic thing. Many women will tell you that a few months after giving birth they can hardly remember the experience. This is very likely what the brain does on purpose so that the human race can actually go on. Can you imagine remembering your birth pain, forever?
- Did you have natural child birth?
OK, childbirth is childbirth, no one gets out of it unscathed no matter how your baby is born. Just giving birth is enough to warrant a medal. Pushing something out of your vagina for hours or getting sliced open across the lower abdomen, neither is a party. Asking if a mother had natural child birth may imply that there is an ‘easy’ button you can push during birth, and unfortunately, there’s not.
- Are you breastfeeding?
Unless you’ve been living on the moon for the past decade, everyone knows that breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby. But not all women choose that method for themselves and their baby. Maybe they had a reason for not being able to exclusively breastfed, and so they chose to bottle feed instead. Breastfeeding is a choice and ultimately no woman should feel ashamed to feed her baby in the manner that she wants to. If you know that a mother wants to breastfeed, support her and let her know that there is really good help available if she needs it, but if it doesn’t work out or she changes her mind, that’s OK, too. Don’t you just love freedom of choice?
- How much weight have you lost?
Do I really need to elaborate here? Like, duh! No woman wants to think about her weight after she’s just had a baby.
- Do you think you’re going to have any more?
Seriously, refer to #1! I’m not sure that a few weeks after giving birth is the right time to ask a new mom this question. I mean, consider that she only gets three hours of sleep a night, her body is still aching, it probably hurts to pee, she hasn’t pooped in days, and she’s probably cried at least twice, no, three times so far this week.
- When did the doctor say you can be intimate again?
This question is more for the men. To say that a woman is remotely interested in anything of that nature is a gross exaggeration! I’m sorry, but for most women, we’re not into it shortly after giving birth. It’s hard to think about those things when you’re taking care of a newborn and showering has become a luxury. It’s no disrespect to our men, we still adore them, it’s just going to take a while to feel like a woman again instead of an engorged, lactating cow, I mean, mother.
- Is your baby sleeping through the night yet?
Every new mom dreams of the moment that her baby sleeps through the night, but truthfully neonates are not supposed to sleep through the night. Newborns have very short sleep cycles because they need to eat frequently. They usually eat every two to three hours, which is normal for a newborn. If your baby doesn’t sleep through the night for weeks, even months, it’s normal. Some babies aren’t good sleepers and won’t sleep through the night until almost one or even after. Don’t stress out about it. It’s not a competition and you shouldn’t feel discouraged by it.
Love and hugs!
• Bianca Carter is a certified lactation counsellor and founder of Bun in the Oven. For more information, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow BITO on Facebook at babybunintheoven, and check out the BITO Blog every Monday and Thursday at http://babybunintheoven.com.