Being a new mom is already hard and extremely challenging.
Not only do you have to adapt to all these new changes to your physical body (flabby tummy, back aches, engorged boobs, hormonal changes, etc) and mental state (stress, not enough sleep and rest, insomnia, etc), you don’t need more kepochis (busybodies) know-it-all to tell you unwanted and often unsolicited ‘advice’.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Although there are some suggestions and tips that are useful and helpful, there are also those which are just downright annoying and irritating. Some people think they’re funny – but the truth is, they are anything but.
Having been a new mom for only 3 months, I’ve received my fair share of advice and opinions from almost everyone who knew I’ve given birth.
And not all is sound.
Here’s a few things you shouldn’t say or mention to a first-time mom:
On feeding the baby
My baby was a healthy and feisty little Gladiator when she was born. And she didn’t drink a lot at first. Those who came by to see us started to bombard me with questions and stuff like:
- “Are you sure your child is well fed? She seems hungry.”
- “Is your breast milk sufficient? It looks watery. That’s not good. Top up with formula.”
- “Don’t give her the left breast. That’s water. She’s not thirsty, she’s hungry. Give her the right one. That’s food.”
- “Give some water, or (herbs/plants) to help your baby fight off (insert any newborn sickness). It’ll do her good.”
- “You’re not feeding her right. You’re supposed to do it this way (cue demonstration).”
And that last bit came from a guy friend, who’s single.
Now these are not only annoying, but they worry and stress me. And stress is not good for a post-partum mom.
Here’s what I know, and what the doctors and nurses told me:
You’re not supposed to feed your 0-6 months baby with anything BUT breastmilk or formula!
So my mom hired a Mak Bidan (confinement lady) who claimed she’s not the typical, traditional, old-fashioned Mak Bidan.
But it was all bull. These were among what she kept telling me the whole 7 days of her service:
- “Why are you not eating the jamu (traditional medicine)? It’ll cleanse your insides, repair your womanly organs, get rid of the bloody smell, make you glow, etc. That way your husband won’t go astray because he’ll be hooked on you! (seriously aunty?)”
- “Why are you moving around so much? Slow down. You’re still weak and fragile. You should be in bed.”
- “You should be resting and sleeping while the baby sleeps. Don’t do any house chores.”
Here’s what I know, and what the doctors and nurses told me:
- Jamu doesn’t suit everyone, ‘heathy’ as it is. Eating healthily with a balanced diet is much better.
- Depending on the stitches and degree of pain, not everyone needs to be confined to bed. In fact, moving around regularly and cautiously can avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and other post-partum illnesses from developing.
Not everyone has the luxury to rest and sleep while the baby is sleeping. Yes, I know that new moms need rest, but for those like me without maids or helpers, who’s going to take care of the household chores?
The Hubba and I have already talked about family planning since we first discovered I was pregnant. But of course, that was a private thing between us, and why would we announce it to the world?
Not to these kepochis though, who feel like they have a right to interfere and give their opinions:
- “So how many more do you want? She needs siblings. Pity her if she’s on her own.” (The Little Gladiator was just 3 days old at the time!)
- “You have to plan when your next one is. You can’t have it too late, you’re not getting any younger you know.“
Now if we say “That’s it, we’ll stop after her,” they’ll say “What?? But you’ll miss the baby smell; the baby needs someone to play with!” etc.
And if we said perhaps maybe 3 more, they’ll say “But it’s too soon, you need to plan the gap, you’re getting older you know, can you make it to another 3?” etc.
One can never win with these kepochis.
On post-partum body
I grew a human being inside my belly for 39 weeks and 2 days. And I gained 10kg. There are 2 schools of thoughts on that.
- Some said:
“How come you still have the flabby tummy? You should follow (insert any Instafamous new mom, celebrities who just gave birth). She lost all her baby weight in just a matter of days!”
“You need to get back into shape. Otherwise your husband will look and find other women. He won’t even want to glance at you.”
“OMG your boobs are so huge!” (Sometimes this one is a compliment though).
- Others opined:
“You shouldn’t go on diets and exercises so fast after giving birth. You are so skinny now!”
“Are you not eating? Where did your belly go?”
“You shouldn’t lose the weight so fast, you’re breastfeeding. You might not produce enough milk for the baby.”
“No wonder your baby doesn’t seem to be full. You don’t have enough milk to give her cause you’re not eating enough!”
Truth is, I did lose the 10kg I gained in a couple of months, but mostly because I love to run and the Little Gladiator seemed to like it too. Plus, handling her and juggling the household chores are already burning the calories, even though I eat like a horse. It’s just that all the pizzas and ice-creams go to her arms and thighs now.
And she’s feeding fine and gaining weight according to the doctor’s charts. I did consult my doctor before starting to run again, thank you very much.
On caring for the baby
She’s my baby, my little Gladiator, so I’ll handle her my (and The Hubba’s) own way, according to what she needs. But everybody else seems to have their own opinions on how I should care for her:
- “What are you doing taking the baby out so soon? Are you mad?”
- “This isn’t how you should bathe her. You’re not doing it properly.”
- “You’re doing it wrong, you should put baby oil, not lotion.”
- “She should be tucked tightly with a swaddle. Don’t care how hot she might get.”
- “Why are you carrying her like that?”
- “Look at so and so’s baby. Already got so much hair. How come yours is still bald?”
My dear kepochis,
I only listen to the doctors’ and nurses’ advices, and tips from my mom. A lot of supporting friends who are mothers, help and encourage me too. There’s no way on earth I’m going to listen to you, you so-called experts.
These ‘tips’ of yours might work with the other moms. All I’m saying is, people need to understand that mothers are all made differently; what works for some, might not work for others. Be more sensitive and aware of what you said to a first-time mom, will you?
For more articles about Dating & Relationships, read My Abusive Husband Died in My Arms. Here’s My Story, and 6 Things You Can Do to Be a Better Instagram Husband.