Going to visit a new Mother and her tiny baby?
I loved having company after my babies were born.
In fact, after a couple of my births, I called lots of people asking them to come see us!
However, as a Mom who has been there 6 times, I’ve had great and not-so-great experiences when friends and family came to visit postpartum.
While I loved sharing the joy of a new baby’s birth, I often remember fighting exhaustion with visitors who stayed too long, or being stressed by people whose children didn’t seem to know how to behave around newborns.
Make your visit a blessing instead of a drudgery with these tips.
1) Call beforehand and ask what you can bring her to eat
A new mom, especially if she’s breastfeeding, is hungry! Don’t ask if she wants you to bring her anything. Most new moms in our culture are unlikely to ask for help. Tell her that you ARE bringing her lunch and what would she prefer?
And make sure, if you’re preparing something, that it’s not loaded with empty carbs. New moms have enough trouble going to the bathroom in those postpartum days! She needs good nutrition, not junk.
2) When you arrive, don’t smell like a bouquet on overdrive
Newborn babies have sensitive skin. Some of them break out when they are held by someone with a lot of synthetic perfume on. When you go visit a new baby, don’t smell like you’ve been attacked by Chanel No. 5. Skip the perfume. You’re not on a date, ok?
3) Wash your hands
New moms are particular about their babies, and neither she nor her newborn needs your germs. Wash your hands first and then ask if you may hold the newborn. And for goodness sake, leave a sneezing, snotty nosed child at home!
4) Don’t hog the baby
The new mother’s job is to rest and bond with her baby. Don’t grab the baby and try to jolly her out of her cries when she obviously wants her momma back. Hold the new baby briefly, perhaps while mom uses the bathroom or cuddles her toddler, then give baby back. Now.
5) Do something useful
Ask mom if you can watch her older child for a half hour so she can nap with the baby. Ask if you can load the dishwasher, or fold a load of laundry. Insist. Don’t say “Is there anything I can do?”. Say “What can I do?” At the very least, bring paper plates and disposable flatware. She may have forgotten to buy that, but it sure makes those postpartum days a little easier. Don’t expect a postpartum mom to entertain or play hostess to you. It should be the other way around.
6) Keep your visit brief
Mom is tired, recuperating from childbirth and above all needs to rest and learn about her new baby. Counting fingers and toes, cooing, crying, breastfeeding and changing diapers takes all day!
Again: a new mom doesn’t need to play hostess. Don’t stay more than about 15 minutes unless you’re her best friend or close relative, and even then, keep it very brief. While I loved having people visit with me to ooh and aah over my newborns, I also remember how exhausted I felt, when a friend stayed for an hour or longer. New mom exhaustion often brings on tears. Don’t overstay your welcome!
If you remember these tips, the new mom will really appreciate you, and she’ll return the favor the next time you have a baby!