Be mind­ful of what you say to a new mum on ma­ter­nity leave.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - C NTENTS -

“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 difcult.

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 well­be­haved, 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 be­hav­iour 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 ex­i­bil­ity, 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.”

If her baby is well­be­haved, she has worked hard to set­tle her lit­tle one into a feeding and sleep­ing rou­tine. Don’t be­lit­tle her achieve­ments.

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