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Never Say These 10 Things to A Mom

Updated: May 8


It happens more times than you might realize, a woman's feelings are invalidated by other people. When a new mom comes away from her miscarriage, stillbirth, live birth, postpartum, or breastfeeding experience feeling sad, disappointed, hurt, or upset, her feelings are anything but satisfying to her. Regardless of how she feels her feelings are hers! This blog is not to point to fingers, or place blame, but rather to raise awareness. Every one of us is likely guilty of invalidating another person’s feelings, unknowingly or otherwise. I know that before I started my journey in birth work I said something to discredit the way another woman felt about her own experience without even realizing I did it. Luckily she was my dear friend and she was able to communicate that what I said made her feel worse. It helped me reevaluate my words. How many other times had I done this? I am sure that like me, most of you are well meaning individuals. Maybe you, like me experienced a moment of awkward silence and in effort to try and make someone feel better you invalidated their feelings because you didn't know what else to say, it happens. It's time we understand that the awkward silence is o.k. That noone feels more about an experience than the person who experienced it. I compiled a list of the top 1o most invalidating statements. How many have you said, heard someone say, or never even gave a second thought to?

never say these 10 things to a mom jacksonville doula

Never Say These 10 Things to A Mom:

  1. "All that matters is a healthy baby."No, that is not all that matters, knock it off! In the big scheme of things of course a healthy baby are what a mom would say is the pinnacle of importance, but a healthy mom; mind, body, and spirit is very important.

  2. "Well when I ____________" Stop right there! Yes, your experience is important, but this is about her right now, not you, not me, not anyone else. Her experience is unique no matter how similar anyone else's is. Telling her about yours when she has opened up about her own can be helpful, but can also take what ownership she had over the experience away. Tread lightly.

  3. "There's no award for having a baby natural birth!" Wait just a damn minute! Her goal of having an un-medicated birth is something she set for herself, something of great importance to her; otherwise she wouldn't have set that goal. Her award is achieving the goals she set for reasons she felt the goal was important. By telling her there is no award you are saying the reasons she set the goal are not important.

  4. If anything you says begins with, "you should or shouldn't" or "at least", then you are invalidating her feelings and being unsupportive. Examples: "at least you had a vaginal birth", "at least you know what it's like to be pregnant", "you can always try again", "at least you knew adoption was the best choice", "you shouldn't worry about that", " you have other kids that need you", "you should be grateful you got your homebirth".

  5. "Why did you give up on breastfeeding?" Give up? Are you serious right now? The choice to breastfeed or not is very personal. Some women choose to breastfeed for a week, some for a year, and some for 6 years. Just because she doesn't breastfeed as long as she set out to originally, or doesn't breastfeed as long as you think she should doesn't mean that she gave up. Perhaps there were medical reasons, perhaps there were personal ones, perhaps she changed her mind, and it’s ok. and doesn't mean gave up! Unless she says she gave up, then she did not give up, she shifted gears!

  6. "So, when you going to have another one?" Seemingly harmless right?! Tell that to the couple who has been trying to conceive and struggling? Is it really anyone else's business?

  7. "You have no idea what it's like." No, for you she doesn't. She knows exactly what it's like for her though and telling someone they have no idea what it's like is a bit condescending.

  8. "Sometimes things happen in labor that we don't like, it is what it is." Sometimes things happen that we don't like. Well, of course, that's a given, that's life, that she knows, and she doesn't need to hear that from anyone. What she experienced could have been very traumatic for her, by her definition, not anyone else's.

  9. "Some babies don't want to be born vaginally" Really? How would you know if her baby wanted to be born vaginal or by cesarean? If it were that simple she would know and plan accordingly wouldn't she?

  10. "There's always next time" No, there will never be a next time. Not for this baby, this birth, this moment, or experience. Never again, this is it. There may be more times, but never this time again. Please try and understand this, honor this, at very least respect it. In the words of my Doula partner, Heather Horrell, perhaps this might be a better way to respond to a person experiencing grief, "I'm sorry your birth/postpartum didn't go/isn't going as planned. I know how important that is to you. What are some parts that you feel were/are good? What are some that are bad and you'd like to process? I'm here to listen and help". So whether or not she gave birth vaginally, by cesarean, at home or in the hospital her feelings about her experience matter. Whether she breastfed for a week, a month, a year or never, her feelings about it matter! If her baby was carried to full term, born prematurely, miscarried before anyone knew she existed, or adopted, her feelings matter, they are important and are valid. Nothing we say should be anything less than supportive. Sometimes all a mom needs is someone to just listen in silence. Sometimes all she needs is someone to just hold her and say I'm sorry. Sometimes she needs someone to say what you are feeling sucks, but it's o.k. to feel that way, your feelings are valid!

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