Adjusting to life with a brand new baby can often times be tiring and trying for parents. Have you ever wondered what you can do to truly help a new mom after she has a new baby? Read on to find some tips beyond the normal “bring food”. These tips are honestly what most new moms need… coming from a mom of 4!
(please keep in mind that everyone has all different levels of comfort in their relationships… not all of these tips will apply to everyone!)
This (fast moving) time is not about you: Yes, you may be excited and thrilled and over the moon that your family member or friend just had a baby. This may be your first grand baby or niece/nephew etc… but it’s still not about you! This is not meant to be harsh, it is simply meant to reflect the ultimate #1 way you can help a new family. Let them exclusively love on their new baby for as long as they need before you visit. Please don’t be snooty or passive aggressive when a new family states that they want/need time alone. The first two weeks are full of learning and stabilizing health and relationships for mom, partner and baby and can be disrupted by well-intentioned family and friends. They may feel uncomfortable with telling you they need time with their baby, so offer it; let them know you understand the importance of this 4th trimester… they will truly appreciate it.
Wash your hands: If you are offered to touch the baby or hold the baby, simply say “I’m going to wash my hands.” Don’t offer to wash your hands or ask if you should … just go wash them! Babies do not want your germs (or germs from outside of their home)
Don’t grab baby: Please don’t pick up a baby unless mom or partner have given you permission. Don’t grab for babies out of their parents arms. Don’t grab a baby out of someone elses arms. Don’t pass a baby around like a football. If mom or partner do not ask for you to hold the baby, please assume that they are OK without you holding the baby; you should be OK with this as well. If this is not OK with you, please re-read #1
When holding baby always place a blanket between you and the baby: Again baby does not want your germs or germs from outside of their home. Ask mom what blanket you should use
Never come empty handed: It is so nice to bring something for the family. It could be food, bath salts for mom, coffee, nursing supplies, coffee, diapers, did I mention coffee? It’s a great idea to text or call before you arrive and see if you can pick up anything from the store on your way. It’s also super nice to drop by and leave the items on the front stoop with a little note saying “let me know when you are ready for an in person visit”. Make sure to text so they know they have a delivery!
Be on time: If you say you are going to be there at 4pm, please be there by 4pm. Planning around a baby is hard. Some moms don’t want to breastfeed in front of people and may have fed the baby to accommodate your 4pm visit. Some moms and partners need to sleep when baby is sleeping, so if baby is wide awake waiting for the 4pm visit that happens at 5pm… you get the drift
Play/interact with siblings: If there are older children, sit down with them and show them some attention. You don’t need to bring them a toy or a gift… just sit with them and talk with them. Try not to talk to much about the baby; Talk about the child you are with. Take a little time and do something with them that they enjoy. It might be shooting some basketball, playing with the dog, putting together legos, playing dress up, going for a walk or to the park; just give them your undivided attention.
Speaking of the dog: Take the dog for a walk!!! Or play with the cat!
Don’t overstay: Be aware that you are probably not the only visitor that day and the family needs time alone to just be. An hour or less is good amount of time.
Clean something: While you are there do something that will help tidy the house. You could wash some dishes, fold some clothes, pick up a toy, make up a bed, or just do some general tidying. It’s so simple to excuse yourself to the bathroom and clean it in about 3 minutes; believe me toilet paper can clean anything!
Call her: Don’t text, call. More than likely she will be busy (or sleeping) and not able to answer but leave her a nice cheery voice message telling her you love her and that you were thinking of her. Don’t ask to visit, don’t ask
for a call back, just leave a message to cheer her on!
Encourage her choices of feeding her baby: I hope this is self explanatory, but if not please feel free to email me and I’ll send you a list of things NOT to say to a breastfeeding mother and also a list of things NOT to say to a bottle feeding mother
If this is baby #2, 3, 4, 5 etc: Please realize that all the above still apply and often times even more so. Don’t assume that “she’s got it down”
More than anything… tell you love her, tell her you are proud of her, tell her she is beautiful, laugh with her, cry with her, hold her hand, listen to her birth story without judgment… be her support; just be.