A new baby’s arrival is always an unbelievably exciting time. A whole new person from a person you love has just arrived into the world! It’s totally natural to want to rush over the second they’re home and smother them all in all the love you can give!
But it’s really important to be aware that although this is a joyful time, it’s also a stressful and worrying time for mum and dad. Mum’s post-partum body is almost definitely still in pain, parents and siblings are adjusting to a new and interrupted sleep schedule and they’re inundated with well-meaning but sometimes overstepping visitors.
Here’s how to be a visitor that helps rather than hinders when visiting mum and baby in the early weeks.
Always schedule the visit
Do not – we repeat, do not – show up unannounced to a new mother’s house. They’re already inundated with visitors as well as mum and baby’s needs. They’re working off of a strict schedule and if you rock up unannounced during a time when baby or mum are napping, recovering, you’re putting undue strain on the whole household’s routine. Always call ahead and don’t be offended if they say ‘no’ to your requested visiting time. They’re dealing with a lot right now, so let them have some space and say over who visits when.
Keep it short and sweet
When you do visit, unless otherwise requested, try to keep the visit as short as possible. They have a lot of people showing up to visit mum and baby and so they’re probably a little socially worn out. There’s only so many times you can answer the same questions over and over from curious and well-meaning visitors. Stay and chat for a bit, help out and then move on to allow them some breathing room.
Never show up empty-handed
The cardinal rule! This visit should be about them, not you, so showing up empty handed is a big no-no. You’re not just there to see the baby, you should be there to support the family. That means an easily reheated meal for the freezer, brownies for other visitors, a toy or extra attention for an older sibling, some sanitary products or something soothing for mum – if you have that kind of relationship with her. Your visit should add to their comfort in some way.
Offer a helping hand
While there, you should try do something to help out, but always ask first. Some things are okay to work away on, like doing a few dishes in the kitchen or entertaining an older sibling, but sometimes the best thing is just to ask mum or dad what they’d like you to do to help. If you’re close with the family, mum may ask you to hold the baby while she showers or naps, or to take an older sibling out for a couple of hours. Always ask these things first, mum will be grateful for a little helping hand those early few weeks,
Always ask permission
Before you do anything! No kissing, touching or holding baby until you’ve asked the parents if it’s okay. No matter what weird rules they may have like no shoes in the house, or no outside clothes, follow them. It’s their child and their rules.
Wash your hands
This one goes without saying, especially after the past few years we've all lived through. Wash them the second you’re in the door before you come near baby so that you can be sure you’re as germ-free as possible.
Stay away if you’re sniffling
If someone close to you or you yourself have a cold, just stay away til you feel better. Whether it’s ‘just the sniffles’ or the full-on flu, act like you could give it to baby the second you enter the room. It’s better to be safe than sorry those early months.
Give mum and siblings some TLC
While all the fuss and hype surrounds the baby, mum and siblings can be left feeling a little neglected. If everyone is lighting up when they enter the room and you’re being ignored despite being the woman who brought the baby into the world, it can be a little hurtful, especially coming from friends. Make a fuss over mum and ask how she’s doing, if she wants to talk about the birth to vent or just have a little cry. Same goes for siblings of the new baby – be sure to pay them lots of attention that’s separate from the baby. Ask a little about being a new big brother or sister, but also ask about their interests and school etc. A little spoiling with chocolate or a toy or something nice for mum never goes astray!
Keep advice to yourself unless asked
We can want to help so badly that sometimes, we overstep. It comes from a good place, but to exhausted and burnt out mums and dads, it can sound like criticism or preaching. Your experience with your children isn’t the same as theirs because every child is different, What may have worked to get your baby to sleep through the night may not be what works for theirs and chances are, they’ve already heard this from five other people. Unless they explicitly ask you for your advice, try to keep it to yourself.
Let them vent
Going into their baby bubble and gushing about cute everything is and how loved up they must be with a newborn can be a little grating for new parents. Of course, they love their new little bundle, but they’re also operating on very little sleep and a totally altered schedule, so they may be totally out of it. Someone coming in and telling them how lovely everything is and how happy it must be all the time can minimise the intense time they’re also going through alongside all the happiness. If you’re someone they can vent to, let them. They may have stuff on their chest that they can’t say to other people.