20 Things Not to Say to a Mom of a Preemie

preemieFast fact: did you know that every year, one in eight babies is born premature in America? That's a lot of preemies! Which begs the question: if there are so many kids being born more than three weeks before their due date; why is it so many Americans still can't wrap their head around what it means to have a premature baby?

From rude comments that blame moms -- unfairly -- for early delivery to strange things said about how baby looks, when The Stir asked parents of preemies what bothers them most about what people have said to them about their babies, they served up some doozies! So, folks, a piece of advice? If you know someone who has a preemie, you might want to strike the following from your conversations:


1. He looks like a little alien baby. How about just saying he's cute? Or not commenting on his looks at all?

2. I would have given up (broken down) by now. As one mom said, "I didn't know that was an option!"

3. Get him baptized; just in case. How about a little positivity?

4. What did you do wrong? The are myriad reasons why a baby can be born premature, and plenty of them having NOTHING to do with mom. Even moms who do everything "right" during pregnancy can have a preemie.

5. Why didn't you try harder to carry your baby longer? This goes hand-in-hand with #4, and the fact is, moms do try! But even going on bed rest for several months, lying in a hospital bed taking medicines meant to keep the uterus from contracting, can't guarantee the baby will stay in the womb. Sometimes pre-term labor just happens.

6. The hospital is the best place for your child. Sometimes it is, but if the baby has been discharged from the NICU by medical professionals, don't they know better? Leave a mom alone!

7. You're too scared of germs. You can't protect them forever. Maybe you think you're being funny, but a premature baby's immune system is not as developed as their full-term peers, which makes it harder to fight off infection. Mom isn't being a helicopter parent; she's just taking care of her baby!

8. She's so tiny! It's not rude, per se, but you do realize that Mom and Dad have heard this one 50 or 60 times by now? Get some new material!

9. You shouldn't bring baby around people; they're too small. The opposite of #7, this comes when people are being over-protective of somebody else's child. If mom has gotten the all-clear from her baby's doctors, then it's nobody's business where she takes her baby!

10. Don't you know breast is best? Many moms of NICU babies successfully breastfeed, but it's not always easy or possible. Regardless; mom knows best about her baby ... not you.

11. You're not a real mom. Moms who had their preemies via emergency C-section offered up this "gem" that really hit them in the guts, and all we can say is ... REALLY?

12. You probably shouldn't get pregnant again. While it's true that giving birth to one pre-term baby is a risk factor for having another one, the fact is, not every mom who has a preemie will go early the second time around. That's a decision between, mom, dad, and her health care professional.

13. How much does he weigh? Again, not rude, exactly, but how many times do Mom and Dad have to field this question? He's a baby, not a carnival act!

14. You need to feed that baby more and fatten him up! Sure, because you can just magically make a baby grow!

15. You should have known better than to try for another one. Because she should have had a crystal ball?

16. Don't get attached until you know for sure that she's going to make it. Did you really just tell a parent not to attach to their own child?

17. How could you leave your child at the hospital? Sometimes that's what a parent has to do! Maybe there's no room for Mom or Dad at the hospital. Maybe they have kids at home to take care of or need to go to work to pay the medical bills. Maybe, maybe, maybe ...

18. She's too big to be a preemie. According to the CDC, "preterm birth is the birth of an infant prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy." Size has nothing to do with it.

19. You're lucky the hospital takes care of the baby so you can sleep. News flash: when your baby is in the NICU, you're probably not getting great sleep. It's called worrying!

20. You should have aborted one. This has been said to moms of multiples, and well, it's just plain cruel. While multiples may be born early, it's not necessarily the case -- in fact, only about 60 percent of twins are preemies!

Did you have a preemie? What was the most annoying thing someone said to you?


Image via bradleyolin/Flickr

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