It has recently come to my attention that there exists a book that defines the do’s and don’ts of what to say to a new mom. Over the last two years, I have heard several snippets from said book from those around me. There was the considerate, “you’re probably not making enough milk if your baby is asking to be fed every two hours” and the thoughtful, “don’t pick your baby up every time she cries, she’ll get used to it!”
It was only when one of my school friends, who I hadn’t spoken to in five years, gave birth, that I was gifted a copy of this book. Eager to be as helpful as I could to someone who didn’t need my help, I read the book cover to cover. Now armed with this knowledge that has been passed on from generation to generation, I have decided to share with you my key takeaways from the book. I hope that this knowledge enables you to be better friends, family, acquaintances and unwanted strangers to new moms.
- Tell the new mother, above all, to not trust her instincts. As a bystander, you understand her child more than she does, so feel free to tell her off for not covering the child’s head appropriately in 30 degrees or overdressing the little munchkin when taking him out of the house in winter. Remember, if the baby is chewing on her hands, she’s hungry even if the mother says otherwise, and she’s almost certainly sleepy, even if the mother thinks otherwise.
- If the mother is nursing her child, it is your duty as a member of our capitalist society to inform her of how her actions are not only harming the formula industry and destroying jobs, but are also adversely affecting the sexualized image of the female body that the media has so meticulously created. It is incredibly selfish of her to nurse a new born and she should immediately move her offspring to formula.
- If it so happens that a nursing mother’s child wakes up more frequently than formula fed children, use this opportunity to highlight that she is not producing enough milk and should immediately shift her child to formula. You may conveniently forget to mention that breastmilk digests faster than formula.
- If a breastfed child falls ill, point out to the mother that the child is sick because of drinking the cold milk she is producing as a result of her failure to consume enough hot beverages. Advise her to either connect herself to a catheter attached to a boiling pot of decaffeinated tea or you know, move the child to formula.
- If the mother is formula feeding her baby, the most effective way to deal with the situation is to give her a stern look of disapproval followed by a disappointed sigh and pitiful look at the child. There is a very high probability that others before you have addressed the situation with her and she only needs a subtle nudge to remind her that ‘fed is NOT best’.
- It is imperative that you snip any motherhood drama in the bud. If you hear a new mum complain about how the baby isn’t sleeping or how exhausted she is, do not hesitate to tell her that she’s not the first woman to give birth. Billions of women have given birth before her and successfully kept their offspring alive, so tell her to keep her complaints to herself and make you a cup of tea.
- Babies are such a joy and they bring immense happiness to everyone around them, so feel free to go visit new-borns whenever you need a pick-me-up. It is the responsibility of new parents to share their happiness with everyone, so they’ll be thrilled to see you at any ungodly hour of the day. If the baby happens to be asleep, go ahead and wake her up – parents enjoy putting cranky babies to bed.
- Everybody knows that the female body doesn’t look good unless you can see some ribs. Therefore, if you find a new mum who is still carrying some of the baby weight; it is your moral responsibility to provide her with tips, tricks and loads of encouragement to work towards that ideal anorexic figure. Baby weight gained over a period of nine months takes the same amount of time to lose – total myth created by lazy mothers of yesteryears, so don’t take that an excuse.
- Everybody also knows that there is only one cute baby type – chubby, Caucasian with blue eyes and blonde hair. If you find a child that doesn’t conform to this ideal, please highlight it to the parents. Mothers are usually so smitten by their children that they are unable to see their flaws, so as a bystander, you are in the ideal position to help her out. Too often mums eat too much chocolate during pregnancy, so their babies are born with dark skin, but that can easily be rectified by applying a small amount of Fair & Lovely on the child’s body every night for the rest of their lives. Lenses and hair dye can fix the baby’s hair and eye colour, and for weight gain you may recommend early weaning.
- This brings me to my next point – feel free to aggressively reprimand any woman who listens to ‘Google’ and is waiting for her child to turn 6 months before weaning him. What evil deprives a child of good food, salt, sugar and artificial preservatives?
- Under no circumstances should you tell a new mum that the first few months of motherhood are difficult and lonely. Do not tell her that instead of feeling immense happiness like everyone said she would, she might feel sad, regretful, anxious and helpless. It’s even more important to hide this from her if you’ve been through this phase. If it was tough on you, why should it be easier on anyone else?
- Don’t help out. Eventually the new mum will need to manage on her own, and it’ll only get harder once she has more children. Therefore, instead of giving her a false sense of comfort, demand that she takes on extra responsibility to give her a preview of life with multiple children. It might feel cruel, but you’re doing her a favour – if you don’t throw her into the deep end, how will she learn to swim?
- Do not bother to wash your hands before touching the baby. There are so many germs out there. Unless the baby is introduced to them early on and continuously, he will not develop a strong immune system. Therefore, regardless of where you’re coming from, don’t wash your hands and don’t ask your older children to either. Toddlers usually carry the greatest number of germs on their hands thanks to their insatiable curiosity and non-existent hygiene standards, so they are the perfect candidates to introduce lovely germs to new babies.
- There is no need to ask how the new mother is doing. Now that the baby is here, who cares if the mother’s stomach was cut open and stitched back up, or if her life has been turned upside down. Just look at those cheeks! It’s not like post-partum depression is a thing or new mothers ever commit suicide!
- Most importantly – don’t let a new mother live guilt-free. A guilty mother will stay on her toes and continue to provide for her child in a way a guiltless one cannot. If the mother is planning to go back to work, highlight to her the cruelty of leaving her child in the care of another. If the mother decides not to go back to work, shake your head disapprovingly and tell her how saddened you are about her wasted potential. If a mother has put her baby to sleep in his own room, tell her that she will regret this decision when she has no bond with the child when he is older. If instead, the mother co-sleeps with the child, you should inform her that with this attachment parenting style, her child will never be independent.
Of course the actual book offers a much more comprehensive view on the subject, so I hope that one of your distant acquaintances has a child soon, so you can receive your very own copy! Until then, I hope you found my summary helpful. Cheers to improved back seat parenting!
Disclaimer: this is a work of satire.