It never fails. A new mom posts on Facebook about how she hasn't slept more than 2 hours in a row since...she can't remember when, or about the fact that she's been wearing the same clothes and messy bun for 36+ hours, or about how the baby has gone through 6 outfits in the last 4 hours, or about any other early-newborn woe. Cue the comments flooding in.
"The days are long, but the years are short."
"Hold that sweet baby while you still can; they grow up too fast!"
"This is the easy part! Wait until she's a teenager!"
"Have you tried......?"
"I know how you feel."
And the classic, "This, too, shall pass."
These comments are well-meaning, of course! The commenters have good intentions, and genuinely want to help the mom have a positive perspective of this stage in parenting. Unfortunately, statements like these essentially silence the mother's very valid feelings.
The postpartum time can be very isolating for a mother, even if she is surrounded by family and friends. The isolation is exacerbated by remarks that are dismissive of her frustrations and concerns since she won't really feel heard or understood.
So what can we say instead? Try some of these and see how much more supported the mom feels:
"I'm here if you'd like to talk."
"You're right; this is really hard."
"What is your biggest struggle today, and how can I help you right now?"
"Can you tell me more about ____ ?"
"It's ok to not be ok."
"I'm free on Tuesday. What can I bring you or do for you to make this a little easier?"
So, the next time you see or hear a new mother expressing that this is really hard, think of some phrases to validate, support, and empathize with her. And don't forget to offer your physical help too!