And other questions we should probably (ok definitely) stop asking, as well as questions we SHOULD be asking.
After my “Not Another Mommy Blog” post I had several friends reach out to me about the most cringeworthy, AND wonderful things people asked/commented while they were pregnant, new parents, or even general commentary or questions on reproductive habits/health, and since so many people reached out to me, I put up several questions on my Instagram story, asking people the most cringeworthy, but also the nicest/supportive things they were told/asked during pregnancy, in the fourth trimester, and as new parents in general.
Below is what they are, I appreciate everyone who responded to my questions on Instagram or shared with me via text, I definitely had a different experience with this being quarantined for the majority of my pregnancy, and fourth trimester.
Here are questions that are not ok to ask:
Are you dilated yet?
Are you so close to this person you’re asking that they would share it with you if you didn’t ask? If so it is maybe ok to ask.
If you are hanging out at the office water cooler (or in 2020 on a Zoom call), maybe DO NOT ASK your colleague if she is dilated.
When are you having a baby/when are you having another/”oh are you going to try for the girl/boy”…
This one really get’s me going because we weren’t “totally sure” we wanted kids when we got married, plus for many couples, they deal with issues like infertility, pregnancy loss, etc. Also there are amazing people out there who adopt and foster. So again, if you’re on a Zoom call with your newly married colleague, maybe ask about the wedding or honeymoon as opposed plans for child raising.
Also, what is wrong with having two girls, or one boy, or the reverse or any variation. We can’t be up in other peoples uteruses.
Are you having twins?
We need to stop commenting on other peoples’ bodies. Period.
How can I help?
I know this this controversial, and I am TOTALLY GUILTY of doing this. If you have a friend, or family member with a newborn, they need sleep, but you can’t give them sleep, so tell them what they want. If you don’t feel comfortable being that assertive, opt for a “I am going to drop you off a meal, what sounds good, and is this day ok”
I was SO fortunate I had diapers, coffee, soup, pizza, and the list goes on left at my door step.
When can I come see the baby? **.
This is especially different with there being a pandemic, I’ve been super fortunate that my family and friends are so considerate about asking, if it is ok to come over, and planning ahead. But I know this is not the case for everyone – I’ve spoken with several friends who “to make things fair” have had to say “no negative Covid test, no baby”. Please don’t put parents in this position, whether you’re a first time parent or seasoned pro – giving birth in a pandemic changes things. So. If you’re really desperate for baby snuggles just play by the parents’ rules, and bring a casserole, or some snacks.
Did you circumcize?
While I have a daughter, my friends who have boys, have kindly shared that, talking about their offsprings’ genitalia to acquaintances/colleagues is not on their list of things they want to do.
Are you breastfeeding/Are they latching ok?
I think normalizing breastfeeding is wonderful: breastfeeding on a boat, a plane, a bus – anywhere you can eat green eggs and ham should be a fine place to breastfeed. BUT.
Do you have a relationship with this person in which the new parent would tell you this? If you aren’t sure, please don’t ask.
If said parent volunteers that they are feeding by breast, bottle, formula OR WHATEVER, please don’t follow up with “well did x not work out”. I HAVE NEVER QUESTIONED MY INSTINCTS MORE THAN SINCE I HAVE BEEN A PARENT, AND I HAVE BEEN A PARENT < 3 MONTHS. I will question myself (quite regularly, in fact).
If a mom whips a tiddy out, or a bottle, or a canister of formula, please don’t question why a parent is using one particular avenue of feeing. A breastfeeding mom and a mom who is formula feeding can both feel equal amounts of uncertainty, anxiety, and frustration for different reasons.
If you stay home your child will behave better
I had to read this response twice because I thought I misread (as in no one would/could say such a thing unsolicited or not), I did not misread, and the next sentence made me laugh out loud as this parent added that being home with their kids since COVID was evidence to the contrary. Whether there is a pandemic or not, try to be empathetic of what parents choose, right now it is exceptionally challenging: daycare or no daycare, in person school or virtual (and the list goes on).
And. Last, but CERTAINLY not least: DO NOT KISS A STRANGER’S BABY.
Let’s compile a list questions that are ok to ask:
Or even helpful, supportive comments to make in lieu of what was discussed above.
How are YOU feeling?
This applies across a spectrum, and it is great because it is open ended, allowing mom/dad (whomever) to add as many or as few details as they feel comfortable. This is a great questions for pregnancy, adoption, new parents, and returning to work. As I like to say fake friends ask about the baby, real friends ask about your brain and your taint. Make sure you’re actually someone’s real close friend before you ask about their taint 🙂
This question was also the one that I heard over and over and over from moms when I posed the questions mentioned above. I like to point out that the ratio of my post birth appointments was 1:4 to my child’s, meaning – for every 4 appointments she had, I had 1. So not only is that something that is systematically wrong with our healthcare system (or could definitely be improved upon), but then beyond that almost everyone wants to know about the baby- I get it, they are new and squishy, but being asked how I was made me feel seen, and even though in the first month my answer was “I don’t know”, it was still nice to be asked that.
I am going to bring you food, what would you like?
I made you X, when is ok to drop it off?
These two are amazing, I will speak from my own experience here, although I did have several mom friends share these as well. Personally, as a new parent, Pat and I didn’t know what we needed – other than sleep, and water. We had people drop food off, we had people send us gift cards to door dash, and as new parents, this was awesome, it was what we didn’t know we needed before having Em. Even a gift basket, hell if you’re really close with your friend, drop off some food and some frozen peas to put down her pants.
A fed baby is a happy baby
Listen, I’m not going to poo-poo on formula, we don’t know the shoes other moms walk in – when we see the mom taking out a bottle she doesn’t need the commentary on if it’s breastmilk or formula. Let’s just support parents feeding children. Period.
What cravings/aversions are you having?
This is like a pretty safe question, and as one of my respondents pointed out (and I agree with her) it is so interesting to see how different women experience pregnancy, and even how the same women experience different symptoms in pregnancy.
Do you have any names picked out, and are you sharing?
This one is conditional, and you have to be prepared to have a good poker face, because is this radiant parent about to tell you they plan to name their firstborn Merle Gandalf? No matter what they say, you don’t get to insult that name, scoff at it, you tell them it is nice and you ask them how they came up with it.
You’re doing great
Personally I will accept any and all compliments even if I am 101% sure you are lying. I appreciate the effort of positivity, even if I can’t see what you do.
There you have it folks. I will say it takes a village to raise a child, and a village to write this – again I appreciate those who reached out to share both the horror and the heartwarming