When a new mum takes maternity leave, it certainly doesn’t imply that she’s going to have a relaxing time. Here’s what you shouldn’t say to her.
“I bet you’re glad you don’t have to go to work.”
Why not Some new mums are concerned that taking maternity leave could have an adverse effect on their career, so the decision to go on a full four-month break – or an even extended period – could be very difficult.
Your comment suggests that staying at home to look after her baby has no negative implications, and that it provides a welcome relief from the workplace.
On the contrary, she could have serious doubts about the choice she made.
What you could say “Taking maternity leave isn’t always an easy decision.”
“Your baby is very well-behaved, so that makes life much easier for you.”
Why not Although some babies are very settled by nature and are easier to manage, most are extremely demanding, especially in the early months. Any comment that suggests she has an easy life because of her child’s cooperative behavior can imply that this happens by chance.
The reality is that she has worked hard to settle her baby into a feeding and sleeping routine. Your comment belittles her parenting achievements.
What you could say “All that effort you put in to settle your baby is paying off.”
“Come on out with me and our friends tonight.”
Why not This comment clearly implies that she can freely choose when to go out and leave her baby in the care of someone else.
Chances are, however, that she doesn’t have that sort of flexibility, particularly at such short notice. She may not have easy access to babysitters. And when she is able to arrange to have time for herself, she might prefer to relax at home, instead of having a night out with her pals. The demands of maternity leave can be very restrictive.
What you could say “I’m going out with some friends in two weeks. We’d love for you to join us, if that is possible.”
“I bet your cooking skills have vastly improved now that you are at home all day.”
Why not The priority of maternity leave is for the new mum to provide loving care for her young one, not for her to brush up on her cooking skills.
Of course, she feeds her baby, and once he is weaned onto solids, she’ll start to make him proper meals instead of only providing milk for him. But preparing elaborate meals is not top of her agenda.
Caring for her child is time-consuming. Your comment suggests she has nothing better to do than to watch cooking videos.
What you could say “I hope your husband helps out with cooking because you have so much else to do.”
“I bet you love talking about baby stuff all day.”
Why not Caring for a new baby during maternity leave involves a steep learning curve, with so much new information to absorb and decisions to make. That requires the mum to think almost constantly about all aspects of baby care.
But that doesn’t mean she has lost interest in everything else – you can be sure there will be times when she is absolutely fed up having to chat about soiled diapers, baby shampoo, breastfeeding, and how to soothe a crying baby.
What you could say “You probably want to talk about something other than your baby.”