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5 Ways to Talk to Other Adults While You're On Maternity Leave

Image Gallery: Work After Maternity Leave When you're used to talking to and about your baby nonstop, it can be hard to remember how to relate to other adults! See more pictures of work after maternity leave.
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Not so long ago -- in fact, maybe even three or four decades ago -- women couldn't wait to tell everyone that they were going to have a baby. For some, times have changed. In a world where not all our friends plan to have children and the fear of being "Mommy-tracked" is a real obstacle, some women are more reluctant to talk about their babies. Others may talk about their newborns a little too much.

As you enjoy maternity leave, you'll be expected to supply updates on your baby to those outside your family. The key to success in these conversations is to size up the interest of the person you're talking to. Is it someone who loves children and everything about them? Or is it a coworker who just wants a brief update and is more interested in when you might return to work?

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It's not hard to tell, and once you know who's listening, here are some tips for maintaining ties to people in your world while you're on maternity leave.

Chances are, everyone knows you've just had a baby. After all, you had to tell your boss, because you needed the time off. The 40-pound weight gain might have been a tip-off, too. You obviously told your best friends, and the news probably brought some of them closer to you.

But if you're concerned about promotions and raises, and you're working in a large company or telecommuting, there's not necessarily any reason to share your news with people on the periphery. If you have less time to spend in the office or on the phone, cutting the chatter about feedings and strollers can help keep you on task.

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When you're talking to friends, warn them ahead of time that you just can't help gushing about your new bundle of joy.
When you're talking to friends, warn them ahead of time that you just can't help gushing about your new bundle of joy.
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When you're coming from a position of relative isolation, it's easy to make mistakes in conversation. If you can't keep from gushing about every detail about your newborn, start a conversation by telling people that you're completely out of control and have no sense of what's appropriate. It's a technique that's recommended for people who are nervous about public speaking and for job applicants who have obvious deficits.

By putting it on the table and being a little bit funny, you put the other party at ease. And if you venture into uncomfortable territory without realizing it (read: meconium), your companion will find it easier to steer you back to neutral ground.

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While some people in your world will love to hear about the hours of learning to manage lactation, many people, particularly in the work world, will ask about the baby just to be polite.

For those folks, offer a catch phrase, such as "the baby's great" or "he's getting so big." This type of answer will satisfy people that you and your newborn are doing well, but it won't present opportunities for you to bumble into long stories about what happened during last night's feeding. If they want to know more, they'll ask!

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There are some topics that are best saved for conversations with other new mothers.
There are some topics that are best saved for conversations with other new mothers.
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Top among those words to eliminate would be "poop," "pee-pee" and "breast pump." While these may come up in conversation frequently at home (maybe more often than you care to admit), those outside your family probably won't be quite so interested in your baby's bodily functions.

If you don't have close friends with children, join a support group for new moms. Others in your situation may be a little more supportive -- instead of giving you a horrified look -- when you launch into a description of your newborn's every move.

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If there's anyone who wants to hear every single detail about your life with a newborn, it's the baby's grandmother.

If you have an important call to make to someone you've worked with, or you're meeting a single friend for lunch, call your mother before you go and offer a complete download. Leave nothing out. Give an hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute update of your baby's well-being.

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Once it's off your chest, you'll be able to relax, feel good about your situation and show a genuine interest in your friend or colleague without letting your newborn dominate the conversation.

UP NEXT

Why More Companies Are Offering Paternity Leave — and Men Feel Freer to Take It

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Are we in a golden age of paternity leave? Find out why this employee perk is becoming more common at HowStuffWorks Now.


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Sources

  • King, Larry and Bill Gilbert. "How to Talk to Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere: The Secrets of Good Communication." Random House, Inc. 1995.
  • Placksin, Sally. "Mothering the New Mother: Women's Needs and Feelings After Childbirth: A Support and Resource Guide." Newmarket Press. 2000.
  • Weiten, Wayne et al. "Psychology Applied to Modern Life: Adjustment in the 21st Century." Cengage Learning. 2008.

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