6 Pieces of Advice New Moms Don’t Want

32 Comments

new-baby

When you have a baby, people are full of advice. Some of it is really good and totally helpful, especially when it comes with a bottle of wine or a gift card. But then there’s the advice that isn’t helpful in the least, which somehow you may find yourself dolling out once you’re the experienced mother…

1. “Enjoy every moment.” This actually makes my skin hot. Like, instantaneously everyone started acting like I should be enjoying everything like I was on spring break in Cabo or something. I had breast milk dried to my fat rolls and bags under my eyes for months. (Wait, scratch that. Four years). Suddenly, I have the toughest job I’ve ever had and I’m supposed to enjoy it all? Like every. waking. moment? Shit. Truth be told, I was not enjoying very many moments when I had a newborn screamy-screamer. Sure, I was head-over-heels in love, obsessed even, with my new baby. But I was exhausted beyond anything I’d ever come close to experiencing. My boobs ached. My back ached. I was alone almost all of the time and my baby screamed bloody murder through most of each and every ten hour day when my husband was at work. I thought sleeping and showering were gone from my life forever. People telling me to enjoy every moment started to make me feel like I was doing something terribly, terribly wrong. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that the reason people say this is because they totally forgot to enjoy every moment and they didn’t want us to make the same mistake. They also clearly forgot exactly why they didn’t enjoy them.

2. “Take time for yourself.” People would tell me this all the time when I was a new parent and I just kept wondering WTF? What am I doing wrong that I can’t seem to find this mysterious “time”? When you’re attached to a tiny human 24/7, you can scarcely remember that you once had time to both make yourself a sandwich and actually get the chance to eat said sandwich. Unless the person making this suggestion is on their way to your house to babysit, it’s crappy advice.

3. “Don’t feel guilty…” The fact is, guilt follows new moms like a shadow. I’ve met a lot of badass moms, but I haven’t met any, especially new moms, who have successfully avoided guilt altogether. A better suggestion would be, “it’s okay to struggle with balance. It takes time to know yourself as a parent and find what works.” I wish someone had said that to me. Feeling some parental guilt is completely normal. It just means we care and are figuring out what is important. Feeling guilty about feeling guilty is just way too much of a burden. Cut it with the umbilical cord.

4. “Sleep when baby sleeps.” Hello, most bogus advice ever. Newborn babies sleep for approximately twelve minutes at a time, eighteen if they are“good sleepers.” Plus, most of the time it’s actually done on you. Unless you have narcolepsy, you’re not falling asleep the second your kid’s eyes close. Chances are you’re still trying to eat that sandwich for fear of starvation.

5. “If you’re calm, your baby will be calm.” Yes, babies are pretty good at picking up on negative energy and freaking the freak out. But, if you are calm, it definitely does not guarantee you will have a calm baby. No freaking way. If that were true, I would’ve just gotten stoned for two years and swooned at my sweet, calm baby while eating Doritos and nursing away the calories. Some babies are just little spazoids and they can turn even the coolest cucumber of a mom into a spazoid, too.

6. “Just listen to your instincts.” Okay, fine, sometimes this is true. But, so often we commit to this idea that we should inherently have all the answers; that they just magically come to us when baby arrives. We should know how to nurse, swaddle, suck the snot out of their noses etc, etc, etc… and when we don’t, we feel like failures. A better thing to say would be “I’ve been where you are and it can be totally intimidating. I’m here if you have questions.”

For the sake of new mothers everywhere, can we agree to avoid giving those pearls of wisdom? Let’s give them what they really need: A hand.

Related: 15 Things Veteran Moms Really Want to Say

Comments

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  1. 1

    Mary says

    The last sentence was the best part. AMEN. What new parents really need is an open offer of occasional help with babysitting, errand running, whatever, from the people they love and trust.
    My mom and sis stayed with me for two weeks when I had my second, taking care of my first and helping me out after a difficult pregnancy. It was a GODSEND. I don’t know what I would’ve done without them.

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  2. 3

    Tanessa Toten says

    This is horrible advice. You will miss every single moment when they are little. Trust me. Enjoy every single one! Guilt makes me a better person and mother. It drives us to be better than we were yesterday. I HIGHLY recommend sleeping when baby sleeps. That 12 minutes is better than none at all! I still nap with my daughter who is 2 sometimes. It’s very refreshing. The idea is for Mom to stay calm, even if baby is upset, if mom stays calm it will be better for both her and baby. And trusting your instincts, like not listening to that formula loving doctor who wants you to supplement because your baby IS gaining just not at the speed which he expects every single baby to gain. Because all babies are exactly the same, have the same genetics, and should grow exactly the same. Yea. Trust your instincts and don’t listen to that fool. Trust your body and trust your baby.

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    • 4

      XKy says

      Sorry, but no. My oldest is almost 3 and I do not miss many moments from her infancy. Not every baby is the same, not every mom is the same, and not everyone will enjoy (or later miss) the ride.
      I do, however, agree that “trusting your instincts” shouldn’t be on this list. It is my biggest most important piece of advice for any mom who asks for it. That doesn’t mean that you will instinctively know how to swaddle or nurse or get rid of cradle cap or whatever – but you will know when something feels wrong or just off, you do know what is best for your own baby. It means you don’t go against your mommy gut, even if that means going against all of the well-meaning advice you will be inundated with.

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    • 5

      Taylor says

      Seriously? Not everyone can sleep when the baby sleeps. It takes some of us awhile to fall asleep. So basically the second we finally fall asleep the baby wakes up. That makes us more tired than we were before we tried to nap. And no, every single second is not enjoyable. I love my babies more than words. But when both toddlers are having a meltdown and I’m trying to nurse the baby while I have a migraine…not enjoyable. Will I miss them being little? Absolutely! Will I miss that moment above? Probably not.

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  3. 6

    Haley says

    I love this article. I was lucky to be free of most mommy guilt, but the rest of it I can definitely relate to. My baby ate every 45 minutes for almost 3 months straight. By the time she started sleeping for more than an hour at a time, sleep with something that was a figment of my imagination. The option of sleep when baby sleeps, was simply not going to happen if I ever wanted to shower, eat, clean, or talk to another human being.

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  4. 7

    Bex says

    As a new-ish first-time mom, I want to add the inability (or ability) to breast feed does not make or break a child – or mother. Breastfeeding is freaking hard and even when done with multiple visits to an LC, eating all the ‘hippie’ stuff, drinking water till you never leave the toilet, pumping, and reducing stress, it still doesn’t work for many/most moms.

    Don’t let breastfeeding define your ability to provide for your baby.

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    • 8

      Merry Jo Reckeweg says

      True, breastfeeding doesn’t work for SOME moms, even if they do all the right things, and we need to be understanding of that. However, it does/would work for MOST if they are committed to doing it.

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        • 10

          Lee Maneman says

          And here I thought she was just correcting your obviously inaccurate statement. Since breastfeeding was basically the ONLY way kids got nourishment in the pre-formula days, the existence of the human race provides a good testament to the fact that breastfeeding works pretty well, really. Still, there are certainly exceptions, and Merry agreed (as do I) with your main point, which was that the ability to breastfeed a baby does not provide an adequate standard to judge a mother’s parenting skills and dedication.

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          • 13

            Kim K says

            back ‘in the day’ they also didn’t name a baby until they were one – because so many people died in infancy, so yeah: i’d say plenty of woman don’t produce enough milk – even historically. 0_0

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  5. 14

    No worries says

    I’m a relatively new mom, and I have to say that I disagree with this post. That being said, I don’t have twins or another child as other commenters have stated, so I can imagine that would make things more difficult. I followed a lot of this ‘bad advice’ and I feel like my baby and I are pretty well-adjusted. I always slept when she slept, and maybe I was lucky, but she slept for more then a few minutes at a time. I think this is the one piece of advice that kept me sane! I also agree with the ‘being calm’ (not to say that I didn’t have hair-pulling freak out moments on occasion), but I do believe that a constantly stressed out mom can make for a cranky baby. That’s exactly why I took time for myself. Even though my little one refused to take a bottle, my family would come over for 1-2 hours and encourage me to take a walk, go out for coffee, or wander aimlessly around a department store. This also helped with my sanity. I do know that everyone’s experiences are different though, and I got plenty of horrible advice that didn’t work for me either. Moms get pretty good at practicing the smile and nod, whilst screaming internally. Just one of our many super powers.

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  6. 17

    Jennyg says

    I can understand where the author is coming from because she only has four years and one child under her belt so to speak. However when you are sending your last born off to first grade or your first born off to middle school, you really, truly, utterly miss hose precious, exhausting moments where you are needed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…. And you also realize how it really shouldn’t have mattered if the house was perfect or the laundry as all caught up. And you realize that you probably did obsess a little too much about every little detail when really you could have relaxed and everyone would have benefited. And, 6 or 7 years into parenting and you’re still not taking time for yourself makes for habits that are hard to break and are tough on marriages in the long run. So, while it may be annoying to get some of the ridiculous advice from time to time, don’t under estimate some of the wisdom of experienced moms who mean well

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    • 18

      sarahbregel says

      i actually just don’t believe that every moment is meant to be “enjoyed.” i think some of it is meant to teach us things, test us and make us grow as parents. but enjoyed? no. not all of it. doesn’t mean i don’t love being a mom. but i don’t think these one size fits all statements help the majority of new moms very much, even if it is well-meaning.

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      • 19

        Jennyg says

        No, of course not – there are no one size fits all statements. But, some of the points in the article are “one size” and I was offering another point of view. Don’t get me wrong – there were parenting moments I HATED… However, looking back on those times with a little more experience and distance, I realize that I miss even the times I hated at the moment and I do remember them quite clearly! What I wouldn’t do to be covered in spit up right now just so I could hold my newborn(s) one more time!! :) Maybe we can agree that better advice would be “Each moment is special whether you love it or hate it.”

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    • 21

      Tami - 3rd time mom says

      I would have to disagree…getting out of the house was so much easier when I was breastfeeding. Now I have to worry about having enough formula/bottles along and it’s hard to find someplace to warm the bottle up.

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  7. 23

    SB says

    I’m a stepmom of 4 older kids, but having my first bio baby. Scared shitless because people keep telling me that I’ll do fine, and that I am already ‘used’ to sharing my life with kids, etc etc etc. What I really want to hear is the truth- that this kid will drive me nuts with all the screaming, that I will panic at every hiccup, snotty nose, or fever, and that I will never be able to have any ‘me’ time again. I am more relieved to hear the truth about the demands a newborn has on new moms than to hear that I am a ‘veteran mom’ for being ‘so noble’ taking on 4 kids that aren’t mine by blood, and that a baby is a piece of cake in comparison. Unless by ‘piece of cake’ people are referring to a shard of glass, I have to say most advice really is crap. This piece was refreshing, and made me feel more empowered to be a mom of a baby in the very near future :)

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  8. 25

    deegie says

    This is a great article! Funny, easy to relate to, and a whole lotta truth! Once my kids were 2yrs. old, life got a whole lot easier and I could enjoy them and my life much more. Everyone is not into infants, and that’s okay.

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  9. 27

    Aplantje says

    Think the article is just trying to get people,out of judging mothers based on what they do or don’t do. Raising a child is hard and we are always judging ourselves on whether or not we are doing well for fear that others are judging us as well. Too much is put on the idea that if you don’t do it exactly as the books/professionals/other moms think you should then you are doing it wrong. As moms we all need to take a step back and realize that if you have made it through the day and your baby is another day older than that day was a success end of sentence. Not every moment will be enjoyed, not every mother will find the ability to make time for herself from the start, not every mother has the same instincts (I think instinct and research should be combined), not every mom can sleep or wants to sleep every time baby does (but some can) and not every mom can remain calm 24/7 no matter who you are but what every mom can do is remove the expectation of perfection and just make it through one day at a time and hopefully know that she has a network of support. Us as moms need to be better at supporting each other and ourselves and stop judging ourselves and others. I think this article is great and don’t believe it was meant as a blanket statement for everyone, we are all different and deal with things in different ways so if this advice is true or not true for you it doesn’t mean it will be that for the next mom you meet. So rather than advice like the article says offer help, food or an ear to listen

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    • 29

      jezebel says

      Obviously not all newborns are fussy. I like that this article is related to those that ARE fussy or to moms who ARE tired and don’t have a perfect calm sleepy quiet baby. This is a real mom telling it like it is to those of us who can’t say these things out loud without being judged so harshly. 1. I didn’t enjoy pregnancy. 2. I didn’t enjoy breastfeeding. 3. my delivery was a nightmare. 4. My 1st baby was difficult and fussy. 5. I was tired and not enjoying every moment. I do not feel bad or guilt. I did the best I could. I had great mommy and baby moments that I will cherish forever. It would be sad if I sat and regretted anything and focused on those moments that I didn’t enjoy 100%. Mommy is a job, it’s work, without any training and the job is always a surprise gig. You don’t know what you’re going to get. You make the best of it, but damnit, let us be honest. Let’s support each other and stop judging and criticizing. (sp?)

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  10. 31

    KMD says

    This article bothered me mainly because of it’s tone. I felt like someone just wanted to vent the things that upset her and wants to get a reaction from everyone else. I’m about to have my 6th baby…yes being a new mom is hard and it’s like nothing else you have ever experienced and everyone has a different experience, but I think moms attitude has a big part in the mom/baby relationship and if you want to focus on the negative it will be a negative experience.

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