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The only five things a new mother wants to hear

As the veteran mom of my crew, I’m enjoying so many of my friends getting pregnant recently. Between the polar vortex babies and regular ol’ conceptions, I have a handful of new play nieces and nephews to enjoy. I’ve had to brush up on my “new mommy etiquette” and avoid those cringe-inducing phrases that make tired parents sigh.

In case you’re planning to visit some postpartum friends, here are a few phrases to make any new mom happy.

“I brought you food that you can eat with one hand.”

Sure, it’s nice to come see the baby and ooh and aah over how cute your friend’s latest creation is. But don’t come over empty-handed. If your friend is anything like me, breastfeeding and postpartum hormones will have turned her into a calorie machine. She would like to eat, and she’d like to eat now. Bring healthy food, but don’t be afraid to sneak in something truly indulgent either.

“You look great!”

Was I the only one who preferred my pregnant body to my postpartum body? During pregnancy, my body was round and firm. My boobs were the best they had ever looked. After childbirth, everything shifted and I just felt like a deflated beach ball. Compliments were like manna from heaven. Tell your friend that they look great. They might not believe you. But say it anyway.

“Your little one looks just like you!”

You know how maddening it is to nourish a human being inside your body for 40 weeks and when the little human comes out, it looks nothing like you? Both of my children were Daddy clones — and still are. But when someone else looked at their precious little faces and claimed to see a little glimpse of me — well, that made my whole day.

“Want me to watch [your new baby] while you take a nap?”

The best thing my mother did for me was to take the night shift for a week when I brought my daughter home from the hospital. I would wake up at night to breastfeed, and my mom would burp the baby, change her diaper and rock her until she fell asleep. It was glorious. While most friends aren’t able to do nightly duty, if you’re able to give her a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep, that’s more than enough.

“You are doing a great job. Your baby looks so happy.”

With most of the women I know, there is so much doubt that comes along with the first baby: Does that cry mean they are hungry or sleepy? Gassy or wet? We all have a learning curve and it takes time to find our groove. Reassure your friend that she is rocking motherhood and that with each day, she gets better and better.

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