The days and weeks following the birth of a new family addition can be chaotic and overwhelming even for a seasoned mom. Writing from experience as well as from listening to other newborn moms’ stories, here are some dos’ and don’ts to share with family and friends.
When visiting the newborn mom and baby at the hospital stick to about fifteen minutes around the time you said you would arrive … and don’t be upset if you have to wait while the physicians are making their rounds or the baby is out for a hearing test. Moms are also trying to nurse, get cleaned up, feed the baby, catch up on sleep, etc.
Don’t visit the newest addition and mother without warning at the hospital or later at their home. Text messaging is a great option to communicate or use the old fashion means: a phone. There is so much to digest during those first few days even if you are a seasoned mom. The new parents and baby could be dealing with nursing issues, excessive bleeding, concerns about the baby’s weight gain, etc.
When the lactation nurse arrives to the hospital room, take this as your cue that it is time to end your visit. The baby and mom need as much privacy with a lactation consultant as with an OBGYN.
When in doubt, bring food. ALWAYS. A meal goes a long way when a family is sleep deprived. And, please don’t expect to be fed during your visit because let’s face it, newborn parents barely have time to whip up a meal for themselves, much less pick up your dishes and restock the refrigerator for extra mouths.
Think twice about bringing your newest girlfriend or boyfriend to introduce to your family when meeting the latest addition at the newborn’s home. It just isn’t the best timing.
If the bedroom door is closed, there is a reason. Don’t expect to be the exception unless told otherwise. Believe it or not, some mothers want privacy when nursing or don’t want onlookers while they pump. Not everyone needs to experience what some mothers consider intimate moments.
Oh, you feel uncomfortable while I hold bottles of my pumped milk with attachments? When you have to pump, you have to pump. This is the reality when you visit a newborn’s home; nursing is not easy for many new moms.
The definition of helping does not constitute visitors loving on the newest addition while the newborn’s mom is washing everyone else’s dishes and picking up toys and other things from the floor. The best help comes from doing housework, tending to the older kid(s), getting meals on the table, etc. Offer to take the older siblings to the park or put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Regardless of whether the mom experienced a c-section or a vaginal birth, with or without complications, the newborn mom needs time to heal, which could be upwards of six weeks or more. Even standing or sitting upright for a few minutes that first week will delay her recovery time.
Don’t expect the newborn mother and baby to travel for others. Even after enduring a “by the book natural childbirth” without complication, it takes time to recover. The thought of sitting for even a few minutes much less hours in a car seat to visit relatives and friends while coordinating all the things required during the “trip” is enough to stress even the most experienced mother. And, if mothers feel pressured to adhere, don’t feel offended when she asks who will be there and if anyone is sick. Her concern about exposing a newborn to illness should not be mocked nor ignored.
Spending the night to help with the newest addition and leaving dirty towels and linens on the floor is not ok. EVER. Why not do a load or two of laundry instead of adding to it?
That bottle of hand gel is a gentle reminder to wash your hands before handling a newborn.
You’ll be amazed how much a simple message will be appreciated to newborn moms. Just asking if their family needs anything – from running an errand, to bringing a hot meal, to watching the baby while the parents shower, or just to check in – goes a really long way, especially for stay at moms seeking a connection with the outside world.