Visiting a new mom and a new baby can be tricky. Some moms are so excited to show off their bundles of joy and want all the people to come over, and others want to hide in the bedroom and keep those new babies all to themselves.
While every new mom is different, these are some things I’ve found ring true with every mom I know. These are the things that always elicit an “Oh my gosh, yes!” when I bring them up:
1. Be on time (but also be flexible)
Maybe you talked to her and decided two days ago that you were going to stop by at 4:00. Guess what? Babies can’t tell time. Check in before you head over to make sure 4:00 still works and if it does, be there at 4:00. Not 3:45. Not 4:15. It can take all the energy a new mom has to get herself and a newborn baby ready for visitors, not to mention getting the house at least somewhat presentable. If she’s going to be ready for you at 4:00, be there at 4:00.
If, however, you check in before you head over and 4:00 no longer works, don’t be difficult. Just say “OK, no problem. What time should I come? Or would tomorrow be a better day?” If the time gets pushed back, go for a drive, go for a walk, go to the grocery store . . . just kill some time. Babies don’t run on normal schedules and neither do new moms.
2. Bring groceries
Even if you text and ask what she needs and she says nothing, bring groceries. I promise they will be appreciated and they will get eaten. Think things that will keep and/or are easy to prepare: bagels, granola bars, K-cups, microwave meals, snacks for older siblings, trail mix, oatmeal, pizza, rotisserie chicken, etc. Breastfeeding is hungry work, and it’s such a relief to have a wide variety of things to quickly grab and eat with one hand. When we came home from the hospital, our kitchen was stocked with meals and snacks that our family had left while we were gone, and I was so grateful for that.
3. Give her affirmation
Tell her over and over and over again how beautiful her baby is. Tell her she’s a natural. Tell her she’s doing a great job. Tell her the baby is so lucky to have her as a mom. Tell her that she’s an amazing parent. Especially if she’s struggling with postpartum anxiety or depression (even if you don’t think she is, she could be hiding it very well), words of affirmation can be huge for her confidence and well-being.
4. Play with the older siblings and pets
When my baby was born, my mother-in-law made it a point to bring “big brother” gifts for my very energetic dog. When people came over and played with him or tired him out it was such a relief. The same goes for older siblings. I know you want to see and snuggle the new baby, but so does that new mama. Give her some uninterrupted time with her new baby by taking everything else off her plate for a few minutes. Older siblings (and pets!) can get really jealous, so giving them attention and gifts helps their transition. Try to think of gifts that will occupy the older kids once you’re gone, too.
5. Leave your germs at home
This seems so obvious, yet so many moms are left trying to shield their newborns from illnesses that never should have entered the house. If you have even thought about sneezing or coughing in the last 48 hours, just don’t come. Seriously, if you have any inkling that you’re getting sick, please just wait. It’s not worth getting a baby sick, and it’s not worth the anxiety you’ll give the mom knowing her baby was around someone who is sick. Don’t put her in the position of having to choose, either; don’t text and say, “I think I might be getting sick, but I think it will be OK.” YOU make the executive decision and just don’t come.
6. Bring something just for her
Everybody comes over with gifts for the baby and I was so grateful for and loved all of those. What I really remember though, are the gifts that were just for me. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, but it is so, so appreciated. A hot cup of good coffee. A chocolate bar. Her favorite dessert. A new book. Bath bombs. A comfy nursing top. You get the idea.
She probably won’t think to ask, so just take some pictures of her holding and interacting with her baby. She has hundreds of pictures of her baby in her phone, but hardly any with her and her baby. The time goes way too fast and newborn babies change every single day. Pictures of her and her baby together are priceless.
8. Remember her a few months from now
Everybody helps out and brings gifts when the baby is first born, and then after a month or so, everything goes back to normal—except it doesn’t. For a first-time mom, her life is changed forever and things are still hard and different months later. All of these tips still apply when the baby is 6-, 9-, even 12-months-old. Sometimes all a mom needs is a good cup of coffee and some adult conversation.
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