I can't believe it's been nearly two years since I gave birth to my son and joined the ranks of exhausted-but-totally-in-love postpartum moms. My memory of the first few months of his life are already colored by nostalgia, so I typically smile when I think about my earliest days as a bio-mom. (Oxytocin is a helluva drug.) Fortunately, and for accuracy's sake, I'm petty AF and keep a journal, so I have a trusty log of all the not-so-great stuff, including many of the cruelest things anyone could do to a postpartum woman.
The worst part of these egregious sins against postpartum moms? Most of them are committed unintentionally, so the people doing it have no idea that they're completely ruining your life. They're just walking around, ostensibly trying to be nice while visiting or living with you and your new baby, and nibbling your snacks or glibly changing the HBO Go password they know you need in order to catch up on Game of Thrones. That means they're likely to be caught off-guard or even upset once they realize you're annoyed. But, like, whatever. After all, you just made a person. If that doesn't entitle you to a little grace when you're not totally diplomatic in the face of irritating disruptions to your already disrupted life, I don't know what does.
If you just gave birth (or are anxious to do so as soon as possible, 'cause you feel like you've been pregnant forever), bookmark the following list and share it with everyone you know. That way, they'll either know what not to do, or they won't be able to say you never warned them before they messed up and incurred your freshly non-pregnant wrath. Knowing is half the battle, folks.
Leave Their Phone Near Her, But Just Beyond Her Reach
Having a brand new baby nurse until they sleep, or just fall asleep on your chest, is impossibly adorable and sweet. After a few minutes, however, the awe and wonder of the experience kinda wanes, and you need something to do if your baby won't tolerate going in their crib and you're not quite ready to drift off to dreamland, yourself. Nothing is worse than getting trapped under a sleeping or nursing baby without a silent way of contacting the person who could bring you snacks or something to read.
Not Bring Her Food And Water
New moms need a ton of food and water, even if they don't always remember to ask for it. Failing to remember this on her behalf is just mean, you guys.
Expect Her To Share Her Food
This is the first time in nine months she’s been able to eat the foods pregnancy aversions stole from her. It’s the first time in nine months she can enjoy raw milk cheese or sushi and a whole bunch of other forbidden-ish stuff (at least, without someone judging the crap out of her). GTFOH with your nibble requests. Not happening.
Tell Her “I’m Tired”
You don't even know. Yes, non-new moms can and are often tired, but there is no tired like “I just made a human and now have to sleep in ninety minute sprints” tired. A postpartum mama doesn't even have the energy to meet such a provocation with the rage it deserves. If you're fatigued for some reason, complain to anyone but her. She doesn't want to hear it. (This goes double for men, whose bodies are basically doing jack sh*t in comparison.)
Volunteer To “Help,” AKA Hold Her Baby While She Does Actual Work
Go home, opportunistic baby holders. Squishy newborn babies whose little heads smell like love and dreams are the prize for enduring months of pregnancy and hours (or even days) of labor, pushing, and/or major surgery. If a mom actually asks you to hold her baby while she does something by herself, like take a shower, that's one thing. But anyone who shows up at a postpartum mom's house expecting to love on her baby while she hauls her tired, sore body around and cleans up, is just the absolute goddamned worst.
Ring Her Doorbell
Never ring a new mom’s doorbell, unless you want to wake her baby, interrupt her rest, and be banned from her home for basically forever.
Try To Visit Her And Her Baby When They're Visibly Sick
It's exciting to welcome a new baby to the world. It's terrifying to spend time in the hospital or even the ICU because somebody thought it was no big deal to expose a brand-new child or a recovering mama to their gnarly-ass germs.
People: stay away from the new family until you're 100 percent, and wash your hands like you're prepping for surgery before touching any newborns, whether you've been sick or not.
Give Unsolicited Advice
Let her ask for advice if she wants it. Giving a postpartum mom unsolicited advice is kinda like adding to her to-do list, and people in her life should be making that list shorter, not longer.
Tell Her To “Enjoy Every Minute”
Of course postpartum moms will enjoy their babies as much as they possibly can. They don't need to be told to do that. However, not every part of this experience is enjoyable, for anyone. And for mamas with postpartum depression or anxiety, this just compounds how bad she's already feeling for not being as blissed out over motherhood as she thinks she should be. Just don't.
Mess With Her Access To Streaming Video
If you share a Netflix or Hulu login with a postpartum mom, this is not the time to be falling behind on the bill or pulling any funny business with the password. Ditto for consistent access to WiFi. Binge-watching your favorite shows and movies is the only way to survive long stretches of cluster-feeding and laying around healing from childbirth. Don't be the one who dooms her to boredom while she's laid up in bed.
Not Gush Over Her Precious New Baby
Real talk: brand-new babies who aren't in your family often look like spindly little aliens. (Except mine and yours, dear reader. Our kids were universally adorable, to everyone, from the moment they were born.)
However, even if her new baby looks like a freshly plucked chicken, anyone who sees them needs to act like they're laying eyes on the greatest thing since the invention of red wine. She just made this person from scratch, and probably went through some kind of hell to bring them into the world. Coo, gush, and bow down accordingly.