5 Things Not to Say to New Parents
Navigating the Rough Waters of Hormonal Fluctuations and Sleep Deprivation
Becoming a parent is a life-altering experience, filled with joy, excitement, and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. For friends and family members, supporting new parents is crucial during this transitional period. While it's essential to offer love, assistance, and words of encouragement, there are certain things we should aim to avoid saying to new parents, as hormonal fluctuations postpartum along with sleep deprivation can make them more sensitive.
1. "You Look Tired"
The first rule of thumb when speaking to new parents is to avoid mentioning their tired appearance. Yes, they are exhausted, and they probably know it all too well. New parents often struggle with the effects of sleep deprivation, which can be particularly challenging for them, both physically and emotionally. The statement, "You look tired," may come across as a mere observation, but it can be received as an unwelcome reminder of their exhaustion. Instead, offer a more empathetic and uplifting remark, such as "I can see you're working so hard to take care of your little one; you're doing an amazing job!"
2. "When Will the Baby Sleep Through the Night?"
One of the most common questions new parents face is when their baby will start sleeping through the night. This question, while well-intentioned, can be a source of stress and anxiety for new parents. Babies have their own unique sleep patterns, and there's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Moreover, bringing up the topic of sleep can amplify the parents' concerns about their own lack of rest. Instead, offer support by asking how you can help or suggesting they consult a baby sleep expert for guidance.
3. "You Should Try [Insert Parenting Advice]..."
New parents often receive a plethora of unsolicited parenting advice, from well-meaning family and friends. While it's natural to want to help, offering unsolicited advice can be overwhelming. Remember that parents are already adjusting to a new routine, so introducing new strategies can create stress and confusion. Instead, inquire if they need assistance or would like to discuss parenting strategies when they are ready. Respect their autonomy in making choices that work for their family.
4. "My Baby Slept Through the Night from Day One"
Comparing their baby's sleep habits to those of other babies can be detrimental to new parents' self-esteem. Hearing that another baby seemingly had it easier in the sleep department can be discouraging and make them feel like they're doing something wrong. Every baby is unique, and comparing them to others can add unnecessary pressure to already overwhelmed parents. Instead, acknowledge that each baby is different and that they are doing their best in a challenging situation.
5. "You'll Miss These Moments When They're Grown Up"
This well-meaning comment is often directed at new parents, emphasising the fleeting nature of parenthood and the importance of cherishing every moment. However, it's essential to be mindful of the timing when delivering this message. When parents are struggling with sleep deprivation and hormonal fluctuations, they might not be in the right emotional space to appreciate these sentiments. Instead, offer empathy and encouragement by acknowledging their current challenges and expressing your belief in their ability to navigate them successfully.
Understanding Hormonal Fluctuations
Hormonal fluctuations are an integral part of the postpartum experience. The abrupt drop in oestrogen and progesterone, combined with the sleepless nights, can lead to mood swings and emotional vulnerability for new mothers. This makes it even more critical to be aware of the words we choose when engaging with new parents. Empathy, support, and understanding are essential during this time, as they navigate the rollercoaster of emotions that come with the hormonal changes.
Supporting New Parents Through Sleep Deprivation
Sleep deprivation is a shared experience among new parents, and it's one of the most challenging aspects of early parenthood. The combination of hormone-driven mood swings and lack of sleep can result in heightened sensitivity. Here are some ways you can offer support to new parents during this trying period:
Offer to Babysit: Providing the opportunity for new parents to catch up on sleep or enjoy some alone time can be a tremendous help. Even a short break can do wonders for their physical and emotional well-being.
Prepare Meals: Preparing and delivering home-cooked meals can be a thoughtful gesture that saves new parents time and energy.
Listen Actively: Sometimes, all new parents need is someone to listen to their concerns and frustrations without judgment. Be a compassionate ear for them to vent or share their feelings.
Respect Their Boundaries: New parents may need space or solitude from time to time. Respect their boundaries and let them dictate when they're ready for company.
Encourage Professional Help: If their sleep issues persist, suggest seeking guidance from a baby sleep consultant. These professionals can provide expert advice and solutions tailored to the family's unique needs and often there are a few very simples changes to make that result in easier sleep.
Being a supportive friend or family member to new parents goes a long way in helping them navigate the challenges of sleep deprivation and hormonal fluctuations. By being mindful of the words we choose and offering practical assistance, we can make a significant difference in their well-being. Remember that parenthood is a journey, and it's crucial to provide the love and understanding that new parents need to thrive during this incredible chapter of their lives.
xx Cara & Emma