Unless they’re telling you how much you’re glowing — that one is totally true.
Your friends will have an opinion when you’re pregnant. Your family will have advice once the baby is born. Heck, strangers on the street will feel compelled to share their experiences and opinions when they see your burgeoning belly approach.
While practical information and creative ideas are always welcome, some clichéd suggestions are eye-roll worthy at best, downright offensive at worst. We know it takes a village, and we’re here for the help, but we’d love it if some peeps would stop and think before they spew out annoyingly trite tips.
And, so with that in mind, allow us to prepare you with just a few of the not-so-sage words of (intended) wisdom well-meaning folks might bequeath to you during pregnancy and beyond.
Suffice to say that having a baby completely upends your regular routine. If you thought pregnancy put a cramp in your style, just wait until a hungry, needy newborn starts barking nonstop orders. Life as you knew it, with the ability to do what you want when you want, is now a thing of the past.
Moreover, the ability to do what you need to do to function on a basic level (work, eat, exercise, clean) when you have a tiny human completely dependent on you — well, good luck with that. You have to manage your load and make sacrifices in your daily schedule. The dishes or the laundry? You decide!
This conundrum is the norm for new moms. And yet, for some reason, people continue to advise us to “sleep when the baby sleeps,” as if we have the luxury to just drop everything and take a freaking nap every 2 hours of our exhausted existence.
Thanks for the dreamy advice, but dinner isn’t going to cook itself, and poop stains won’t magically disappear from soiled onesies, and our mounting bills aren’t going to pay themselves (oh, but wouldn’t that be nice?).
So, sure, “sleep when baby sleeps” or “nap when baby naps” — as necessary. And use your free time (whatever that means) wisely.
This one is often followed by the old adage: “The days are long, but the years are short.” And the thing is: It’s very true, but not at all helpful.
Yes, in retrospect, the early months and years are a beautiful messy blur. But when you’re in the thick of it — sleep deprived, changing diapers, and cluster feeding a colicky newborn, you’re more likely to feel weary than wistful.
But maybe it won’t be. Some moms are overcome with that all-consuming love-at-first sight feeling for their newborn. Others need time. And either way, it’s okay.
What’s not okay: People telling you what you “should” feel during an extremely emotional and exhausting time.
So when you’re 7 months along, and some little old lady in a parking lot approaches and tells you that you will most definitely experience an instantaneous, like-no-other, earth-shattering love the moment your child is born, take it all with a grain of salt.
But if she tries to touch your belly and asks you if you’re expecting multiples — you can just get in your car and drive away.
We know we’re supposed to eat well and take care of our bodies for ourselves and our families, but we don’t want/need to hear this not-so subtle reminder from the supermarket checkout lady eyeing the three boxes of Devil Dogs in our cart.
Yes, yes, we get it — a healthy prenatal and postpartum diet is important, but eating right during this trying time is so much easier said than done. What soon-to-be mom has the energy to cook a nutritious from-scratch meal? What new mom wants to?
There are only so many salads you can eat when you’re breastfeeding and perpetually ravenous; plus, when you’re aimlessly driving around trying to get your baby to nap, a stop at the closest fast food drive-thru might be the answer to your postpartum prayers.
Um, so you’re saying that holding and cuddling and nuzzling my newborn baby will make them greedy — that holding them close will cause them to be demanding and needy? Didn’t you just tell me to cherish every single moment?
Also, the baby’s a veritable blob, and I’m not quite sure you can show a blob too much affection. Oh, wait, is this why your 5-year-old demanded a donut before dinner and threw a full-out temper tantrum over the nonexistence of a unicorn-colored crayon? Too many baby cuddles must be to blame. Mic drop.
“The wipes out of the package are too cold on a newborn’s sensitive skin.” If you’ve been persuaded to register or purchase a wipe warmer, you’ve been duped, Mama.
Guess what? You already have a built-in freebie wipe warmer: your hands. We love our babies, but their pampered tushies can suck it up and deal with a room-temperature wipe — just like earlier generations of less-coddled baby bottoms. They’ll be fine, we promise.
And not buying or using a wipe warmer doesn’t make you a bad parent — even if some well-meaning mom friend has told you otherwise.
This nugget is not only ignorable, it’s downright dangerous. As advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics, an infant should always be placed in an empty crib on their back.
This has been the standard for some time now, and yet grandparents and all-knowing wannabe experts continue to disregard this important information, dishing out anecdotal advice, instead.
It’s beyond frustrating when a (ahem) mother-in-law inserts herself with this kind of outdated approach. But keep your cool, back up the facts, and don’t give in to pressure. That means the next time your MIL also recommends crib bumpers, shut it down with a short, sweet, and stern, “No, thank you.”
When a stranger approaches you at the supermarket and chastises you about your baby’s lack of socks/sweater/blanket (“He looks so cold!”), we give you full permission to have an “Exorcist” moment.
Better yet, clap back with the always backhanded, “You look sooooo tired.” Okay, maybe don’t say it, but go ahead and think it.
This one goes out to all the moms with multiple kids to juggle. You’ve got places to be and schedules to keep, and it’s hard to manage it all with your newest addition constantly napping. You might have to interrupt that precious crib time to make it to school pickup, soccer practice, and every other impending obligation.
“Oh, but you should never wake a sleeping baby.” Ha! Whoever invented that piece of oft repeated advice never had to race from a ballet recital to an 8-year-old’s birthday party with a newborn in tow.
So next time a loved one or passerby offers up unwanted opinions or corny clichés about breastfeeding, bottle feeding, nap schedules, or anything else, take it or leave it, and know you’re not alone. We’ve all been there, we’ve all heard that.
Lauren Barth is a freelance writer, online editor, and social-media marketer with 10+ years of experience in the ever-evolving media space. She has been featured as a lifestyle expert on national television and radio programs and in digital and print magazines. She lives with her husband and their three little comedians in the suburbs of New York City. In her very limited spare time, Lauren likes to sip coffee, stare at walls, and reread the same page of the book she falls asleep to every night.