Shut Your Face: Things I Wish I Could Punch People for Saying to Me as a New Mom

I’ll be honest, before I had my daughter I had no idea how to talk to other parents, especially new ones. To be frank, I still don’t think I do. What I do realize is how much stress new parents are under for so many different reasons, and how even compliments can be misconstrued with sleep deprivation and constant second-guessing. Likewise, genuine care and concern can be just plain hurtful. Here’s a short list of the things I am ready to punch the next person in the face for.

  1. “You shouldn’t be lifting/doing that.”
    • I had a vaginal delivery, minor 2nd degree tear, no other complications, and had a 10 pound weight limit for 10 days (which was lifted after 8 days; pun not intended).
    • I have been exercising (mostly yoga, also some reps of lunges, twists, and squats using baby as a dumbbell) and I have been carrying my daughter in one arm at times.
    • I lift with my knees and don’t put added pressure on my core and back, because I’m responsible (and have been exercising for years because I want to be fit and healthy).
    • Worry about yourself and trust in my abilities.
    • Mama, listen to your body, not the other voices. You know what you can handle, and your healthcare provider knows you. You got this.

2. “Are you sure your daughter needs…”

      • Yes, I know her different cries.
      • Yes, I know her daily routine.
      • Yes, I know this makes her happy.
      • Yes, I am with her alone for 9 hours a day, 5 days a week.
      • Worry about yourself and trust in my abilities.
      • Mama, listen to your baby, not the other voices. You know what (s)he needs, and his/her pediatrician knows what (s)he needs. You got this.

3. “If you don’t pump, you won’t make so much milk.”

      • This one is the absolute worst of the three, I feel like I need to sit in discomfort, let me boobs leak, and deal with pain for days (which has happened) to help your insecurities. So I’m sorry that this is a personal rant, but someone might find it helpful.
      • Let me tell you about my breastfeeding journey: my daughter was born ~5 weeks early with no ability to latch and a fleeting ability to suckle. She developed jaundice after ~2 days, and the best treatment is eating breast milk and pooping. There is evidence formula is less effective than breast milk. Therefore, in order to feed her enough I had to pump for her bottles. Because she was in the NICU, her guidelines for milk intake were changed daily and were communicated during morning rounds between 9 AM and 12 PM. I was pumping every 3 hours, on the same schedule as her, with no idea how much milk I actually needed for the day. Even so, once my milk came in, in order to feel comfortable I was pumping massive amounts from the first day on (Hit my daily target in two sessions and didn’t actually feel totally empty after either). So yeah, I had an oversupply and I was advised by multiple nurses and lactations consultants to just keep pumping and let it work itself out once she could feed directly from me.
      • Once I hit 7 weeks postpartum, I had clogged ducts at least 5 of those weeks. Sometimes it was just annoying, other times I feel like I need pain killers. It’s really painful to massage my breasts to loosen the plug, even with heat packs or a  shower.  It just feels like such a slight when another woman is willing to tell you to endure that pain.
      • I’m proud of how much milk I’ve been able to pump for my daughter, and all this phrase does is diminish that. We have no idea how my supply is going to be in a few months. Once I go back to work (even if I’m working from home) our routine is going to change. Her cluster feeds are going to come from a bottle more and more often. I’m going to get stressed out. We may need the milk we have frozen, and then again we may not. I’d rather have it and not need it than not have it.
      • I have only gotten this comment from people who did not have an oversupply. So basically, it just makes them look jealous.
      • Worry about yourself and trust my judgement.
      • Mama, listen to your body and your baby. You know what feels comfortable for you, and your baby knows how much (s)he needs to eat. Lactation consultants are your friends; your healthcare provider and your child’s pediatrician do not need to get involved (but they absolutely can if you want them to). You got this.

Published by She Got The PhD

A web-based soapbox of an Assistant Professor of color in Chemical Engineering; sharing my feelings on books, academia, and current events. I hope you enjoy reading :)

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