Being a new mom is hard AF. Between your body changing so you can literally grow a human, to the pain of giving birth, the relentless postpartum hormones, and the challenges of caring for a newborn, it's almost too much to manage. Then there are the expectations of "bouncing back" and being "perfect" thrown in the mix. It feels like you've been set up to fail. To make matters worse, new-mom life has become a punch line, and so many of the jokes so-called "funny" people make about new moms are, in fact, not funny at all. If anything, they're extremely offensive.
In our culture we, as a society, seem to adore joking about women's bodies, as if a woman exists solely for a man's viewing, entertainment, and sexual pleasure. And then there's after childbirth, when the way our bodies change becomes a wisecrack people feel perfectly fine throwing around. It's so gross and objectifying and, honestly, low-hanging "comedic" fruit when women are struggling to adjust to post-birth life. Postpartum sex — including when and if you will ever have it again, and how good it will be for your partner — is also, apparently, super hilarious. Except, you know, my sex life isn't anyone else's business, and new moms have actual recovery needs that don't need to be diminished by buffoonery. And, of course, there's the matter of new-mom life in general. I honestly don't think things like sleep deprivation or mommy brain are things we should laugh about. They are actually horrible.
For the most part, the jokes we make about new moms are sexist, gross, insensitive, and creepy. In other words, they shouldn't be a thing. So, what can we do about it? Well, for starters I recommend we all stop laughing. And then, instead of chuckling to yourself, the next time you hear a joke about postpartum vaginas or hormonal new moms, just stare blankly at the wannabe comedian or ask, "Why do you think that's funny?" A new mom, somewhere, will thank you.
The One About The State Of Their Vaginas
So, here's the deal: my postpartum vagina is fine. Yes, my vulva looks different now, but my vagina? Yeah, it works great. It's not a "hot dog tunnel" and, no, I didn't get a "daddy stitch." Did you know that vaginas are designed to expand and contract? Yep, that's how bodies work, my friends.
Jokes about a woman's vagina, it's size, shape, tightness, or ability to please men after childbirth are so heteronormative and offensive. Just stop.
The One About The Six-Week Wait
I am not going to tell you whether or not my husband and I waited six weeks for sex after childbirth. Why? Well, it's none of your damn business, and my sex life is not a joke you get to casually make. Plus, who cares? Jokes like these just seem designed to shame women for needing time to recover after childbirth, and that's not how postpartum life works.
The One About A Woman Still Looking Pregnant
As a brand new mom, I had no idea that I would still look pregnant after I gave birth. I didn't want or need to hear jokes about it, either. Seriously, my body is not up for scrutiny or discussion, especially when I'm trying to adjust to post-pregnancy life.
The One About A Postpartum Woman's Breasts
If I had a dollar for every joke I've heard about my breasts getting bigger after childbirth, I would be able to afford a boob job. For real.
I'm really sensitive about my breasts, and don't really want people staring at them, or worse, implying that my bigger boobs are for my husband and he's "probably so happy."
The One About Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation is real, and it makes everything really, really difficult. It would be a really good way to make me break during an interrogation, because if someone promised me a solid eight hours of sleep I would agree to almost anything.
Unfortunately, because it's such a common experience, and because we moms laugh about things to keep from crying, people almost always say things like, "Get ready to kiss sleep goodbye," as if it's a laughing matter. Guys, it's not.
The One About Mommy Brain
Mommy brain is real, not just as the punch line of a joke. The consistent forgetfulness starts during pregnancy, and changes the way our brains actually work. Whether it's caused by hormones, exhaustion, or the new things you are learning all at once in order to be a good mom, it's totally and undeniably real, and it can seriously impact your ability to parent.
The One About Moms Never Having Sex Again
It's hard to get your groove back after childbirth, to be sure. It can be extremely hard to find time, energy and the desire to have sex. But when other people joke about me never having sex again, or tell my husband they feel sorry for him, or talk about my sex life at all, it makes me feel like I have no value outside of my ability to have sex. I already feel like the pressure is on, and I'm not laughing.
The One About "Letting Yourself Go"
The idea of "bouncing back" after childbirth is really unfair, often impossible, and has the potential to really be damaging and at a time when new moms are trying to, you know, be new moms. Jokes about mom jeans, letting yourself go, and postpartum bellies aren't funny, they are body-shaming and reinforce some pretty harmful ideas about recovering from childbirth, which for most people, takes time.
The One About Getting Pregnant Again
Jokes about when or if a person will get pregnant again, said right after childbirth, are not funny. They just aren't. Someone else's reproductive health and family planning are none of your freaking business, and unplanned pregnancies aren't a laughing matter, either. Just don't. The woman just brought another human being into the world. Save it.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.