Generally, I’d avoid asking a new mom any questions whatsoever. She’ll likely be pretty tired and needs to preserve as much brainpower as possible for the next few months. Take her mind off bleeding nipples and projectile vomit and 3 a.m. wake-up calls with funny stories or celebrity gossip. And whatever you do, never, ever ask her any of these questions.
1. When are you due?
Did you know it takes about 40 weeks for a baby bump to reach its ready-to-pop state? Well, it might take a hell of a lot longer than 40 weeks for it to completely disappear again. If you’re not 100 percent sure a woman is pregnant, don’t ask when she’s due. (Oh, and the tiny person attached to her is kind of a big clue that her due date has come and gone.)
2. Did you have a natural birth?
IMO, a natural birth is whatever kind of birth a woman ends up having. I may be in the minority here. The prevailing view is that “natural” childbirth is the non-surgical kind, i.e., pushing your child out of your vagina (from experience, possibly the most unnatural thing I have ever done). Others say “natural” and imagine a home birth with candles burning and underwater whale sounds playing on loop on Spotify. Don’t label a mom’s birth before you know how it went.
3. Will you have another one?
When you haven’t slept, washed or brushed your hair for a million years, have breasts that make you wince in agony whenever your baby comes anywhere near them and can’t imagine any body part or medical device coming anywhere near your vagina ever, chances are having another baby isn’t something you want to talk about.
4. How is breastfeeding going?
First of all, never assume a mom is breastfeeding. It’s not the only way of getting milk into a baby. If you do know she’s breastfeeding, please talk to her about something else. Take her mind off the pain of newborn gums grinding against her nipples. They’re surprisingly sharp, people.
5. Are you having sex yet?
When did you last have sex? Was it good? How many positions of the Kama Sutra did you get through? If you don’t feel comfortable answering those questions, you shouldn’t be asking about anybody else’s sex life. Also, see No. 3 above.
6. Is it a boy or a girl?
It’s perfectly OK not to be sure about a newborn’s sex. My own son was so beautiful that when I pushed his head out the business end, both my mom and the midwife shrieked, “I think it’s a girl!” Slight headfuck, but he is incredibly pretty. Colors are a pretty good indication, but this is 2017 and girls — even baby ones — can wear blue. So if you don’t know, don’t ask. It’ll become clear soon enough.
7. Are you sure you should be doing that?
Short answer: Probably not. We’re sleep-deprived, overemotional and can’t remember our own names, never mind what we read in those 12,000 baby books. Long answer: Parenting is a learning curve. There are very few right and wrong answers. It takes a while to figure out what your baby needs — this is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. If you have some amazing, practical advice to help out the new mom in your life, share it. Unless the baby is in imminent danger and your next words are “here, let me help,” keep your inferred criticism to yourself.
8. Can’t you just sleep when your baby sleeps?
Why didn’t we think of that already? Because we all know sleeping for seven-minute stretches is exactly the same as an uninterrupted eight hours. At least we have the cleaning fairy, who appears to clean and wipe up and wash and fold and sterilize and cook for those glorious seven-minutes. Oh, wait…
9. Does he/she always cry so much?
Just. Take. The. Fucking. Baby.