Opinion

15 things you should never say to a new mum

Anita Anandarajah

Anita Anandarajah is a stay-at-home-mum who lives in Hong Kong. She longs for the grassy playgrounds of her childhood.

JAN 1 — Last week I wrote about the the behind-the-scenes stuff related to giving birth that I never knew about, like the space-age sounding term, involution, a paralysing pain that takes place in your shrinking uterus as you nurse your baby. This week, it’s all about the pain-in-the-butt comments some folks feel obliged to share with new mums. Mothers come home from the hospital, all excited because we pulled it off — endured the most painful physical pain a woman can go through in her lifetime and lived to tell, plus there’s a beautiful baby to show for it. We’re also happy to be reunited with our existing children, if applicable, who we have not seen in three days. But there is also the exhaustion and the hormones still racing through our bodies. We may cry, we may scream. But mostly, we’re happy. Then, as we make our way into our porch or apartment, the one-liners start rolling in from the well-meaning neighbour or receptionist. Here they are in no particular order, gathered, for your entertainment and enlightenment, from a legion of suffering new mums: 

  1. “Wah, your tummy is still so big! Is there another baby in there?” 
  2. “My tummy was flat immediately after I gave birth.” 
  3. “When are you due?” A salesgirl asked me this five days after I gave birth. I pointed her to my baby who was fast asleep in her dad’s arms. The upside was the salesgirl became very helpful. 
  4. “You look so pale and tired.” No kidding. You try nursing every two hours round the clock and see how rosy you look.
  5.  “Aiya, Mrs Lee, why are you not covered up? (About 5cm between my ankle and shin is exposed). No good ah, the wind is strong.” 
  6. “Why don’t you give your baby water to drink? You should give her formula at night too. See my grandson, he is so fat.” This is after I said I was breastfeeding exclusively. All I can say is that most overweight people I know today were fat babies too. 
  7. “Your breasts are so small. Got enough milk or not?”
  8.  “Your baby is so small. What brand of formula are you giving her? Breast milk? Oh, then you’re not producing enough.
  9. ” Is that a girl or a boy?” Never mind the baby is dressed in a pink floral outfit. 
  10. Squealing “Look it’s a baby!” and then proceeding to touch baby and ask to carry her. Err. I don’t know you. Back. Off. 
  11. Helpful dad to dear daughter, in hospital room: “Do they have a ‘wrap’ here? Do you need me to get it for you?” 
  12. Sympathetic mum to big-bellied daughter: “Corset? Maybe we should buy you a corset.” 
  13. “We’ll come visit you in an hour. Yes, I’m bringing my kids too. All three of them. Yes, one has a cold, another a hacking cough.” 
  14. “So what’s for dinner?” I am including this because my answer (ham and cheese sandwiches/ spaghetti, fried rice) tends to make me look like a bad mum, not able to provide for my husband and three-year-old. I’m hormonal, lactating and exhausted, dammit!
  15.  “No washing your hair for a month.” This one applies to me and I mean no disrespect to mums who choose to observe this cultural practise. I tried and failed, twice. I wonder, though, how the husband feels when he lies next to the reeking mass that is his wife is in bed. 
  16. That’s all, folks! Ladies, keep laughing. Remember, it’s all water off a duck’s back. Happy 2012!

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

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