When I look back on my postpartum days, "fondly" isn't really a word I would use. I was depressed, insecure, experiencing breastfeeding woes, and couldn't seem to figure out how best to navigate my new role as someone's mom. So, honestly, I was appalled by just how many people felt it necessary to essentially police me and my parenting decisions during this already difficult time, whether to humiliate, shame, or make themselves feel better. Really, the postpartum police just need to mind their own business, even if they have the best of intentions, because my body and my baby are my business.
After the birth of my first, my daughter, my postpartum days were spent agonizing over every last comment, critique, and compliment. Filled with trepidation to even leave the house, I felt as if everyone's eyes were on my every move, because, at times, they were. People want to see moms fail or succeed, and don't leave room for any in between. Whether it's in regards to how quick we lose the "baby weight," or how we choose to nourish our babies, the constant and endless scrutiny is unfair and needs to stop. I mean, honestly, why are the expectations so high?
For example, one unexpected dig from a grocery store bagger — who congratulated me on my pregnancy after I already had the baby — ruined any confidence I'd been building after delivery. Needless to say, and despite my partner's attempts to pull me from despair, it was a rough day after that encounter. If only that man knew what I'd been through, maybe he'd have thought twice about saying anything and regardless of whether or not his intentions were pure.
Unfortunately, that's not the only time someone felt it their duty to comment on my postpartum life. Here are some other times the postpartum police stepped in when they really shouldn't have.
When They Comment On Someone's Postpartum Weight
The only rule about mentioning a new mom's post-baby weight is to not mention a new mom's post-baby weight. I can tell you from experience, there's no way it ends well. Either I'm self-conscious about my body, or I'm re-gaining my confidence back and you're about to destroy it. Even when I lost a bulk of it, in saying how "great" I looked only made me feel like I didn't look great with the weight on. So, really, just don't mention my weight. Period. The end.
When They Ask About Postpartum Showers
Maybe I have bathed and this is the 17th shirt my daughter has spit up or pooped on. Maybe I haven't bathed because I'm too busy cleaning my daughter, who can't seem to control any of her bodily functions. How about you worry about your bathing situation and leave mine alone, OK? As a new mom I am constantly pulled in a variety of directions, so I'm doing the best I can.
When They Make Comments About Breastfeeding Or Bottle Feeding
Because the two sides of the "what's the best way to feed your kid?" argument are so passionate, there's no way to win. When I tried breastfeeding, the postpartum police wanted to tell me what I was doing wrong, why it wasn't successful, and how I could do better. As a result, their constant butting in only made the experience worse.
When I went to bottle and formula, I heard all the usual judgements about what a terrible mom I was for not breastfeeding. Had those same judgmental people only known my postpartum depression was a major factor — and that my baby was happy, healthy, and fed either way — maybe they'd have been more compassionate before saying any damn thing.
When They Comment On A New Mom's "Messy" House
As a mother to a newborn it honestly felt as though I never left my house. I mean, it's where I live, and I spent all day and all night in the dam place. So, yes, of course I noticed when certain house chores piled up. And, yes, of course it bugged me, too.
Unless the postpartum police are going to come over to my house and start cleaning, though, it's best they mind their business. I'm keeping a human being alive, so the dishes can weight. They're not going anywhere. My baby's newborn months, however, are.
When They Tell A New Mom How To Parent
I know some seasoned moms like to share their knowledge with others (especially in the postpartum phase), and I appreciate those words of wisdom. I think we can all learn from one another, I really do. Here's the thing, though; those suggestions are really only appropriate when someone has asked for them.
During my early days as a brand new mom, I really needed (and wanted) to figure things out on my own. If I needed help I'd have asked, but every mom does thing their own way. I only wanted the same chance.
When They Comment On A Mom's Post-Baby Love Life
My partner and I discussed, at length, how we'd handle the transition from single lovebirds to parental lovebirds. In no way did our conversations ever need the opinion of an outside source. Our romantic life is not up for public debate and no matter what is, or isn't, happening postpartum. Thanks.
When They Use A Condescending Tone
Even if a friend has the best of intentions and truly believe a comment or suggestion is going to be helpful, if their tone was all wrong it wouldn't matter. I would immediately shut down and stop listening to whatever it was they were saying.
As a new mom struggling to find her footing, any uninvited suggestion or comment is a risk to our postpartum selves. I know, firsthand, there's a lot every new mom wants to say, but doesn't. Basically, when in doubt, mind your own business. It's must easier for and on everyone that way.