One of my best friends recently became a mom for the first time. Seeing her adjust to motherhood—quite flawlessly I might add—and discussing both of our post partum experiences brought some aspects to mind that we both wish we could go back and change. Setting boundaries for visitors, or not setting them, is the number one thing we both regret the most. Since many new parents are probably like we were—and are hesitant to say no to people when they ask to come over right after baby is born, I’m here to lay out some cardinal rules for visiting a new mom.
Wait a week (or two!) before going to visit.
Say what?! Mind blowing, right? I know its our natural reaction is a desire to congratulate the new parents and, most importantly, get in some newborn snuggles—but try to resist those urges. Mom and baby might be trying to establish a nursing routine and sometimes having lots of visitors can put a strain on that. Especially if mom is pumping or isn’t comfortable nursing in front of people yet. My friend and I both lamented that some of our biggest cry fests were while secluded in a room trying to rush to nurse or pump while guests were awkwardly waiting on us.
If you must come by, bring food—and leave.
If you can stand to wait the couple of weeks to let the parents adjust to their new roles and their new little person, still bring food. Food is always welcome when there is a new baby in the house. Just be sure to ask if mom has any dietary restrictions if she’s nursing. Also, use disposable dishes so the new parents don’t have to worry about any cleanup. Bonus points if you also bring paper plates and plastic utensils!
Refrain from giving unsolicited advice.
This one is such a toughie; I even catch myself doing it. New parents are so flooded with advice (as well as judgement) from family, friends, the internet, social media—and even random people in Target. It gets to be so overwhelming. Mix in a healthy dose of hormones and sleep deprivation, and you have a breakdown (or several) waiting to happen. If the new mom or dad asks for your advice, then, by all means, give it to them. If not, just keep your comments to yourself and lend a listening ear instead.
Give the new parents lots of grace.
This parenting gig is hard—especially right at the beginning of it. Moms are undergoing hormonal changes, all kinds of crazy emotions, lack of sleep, and a physical recovery to one extent or another. Older siblings will be also adjusting to having a new baby in the house. It’s a time of huge transition for everyone in the house—which also means its probably a time of stress as well. Be understanding with whatever guidelines the new parents lay out or any requests they make (within reason, obviously).
Even if the new mom that you are hoping to visit hasn’t put any restrictions on visitors after her bundle of joy arrives, remembering these simple but important guidelines will help make your visit with her the best it can be and as stress free as possible for her.