Tips on Visiting a New Mom: How to be Helpful Without Crossing Boundaries
You've been waiting 9 long months for your friend or family member to give birth to their precious little baby. Baby is here and there is nothing you want more than to be there for her and, of course, hold and snuggle that precious tiny human. Before you rush to the hospital or to her home, read these 9 tips for visiting a new mom and how you can be helpful to her without crossing boundaries.
1) Schedule a time to visit
Don’t take it personally if the family does not want visitors right away. Giving birth is exhausting, momma and baby may be learning to breastfeed, are bonding via skin to skin, momma is recovering, and family is adjusting to their new norm. Or maybe they simply want some alone time! Surprising the family with a pop-in visit is a big no no. Wait for an invitation.
2) Call ahead and see if you can bring anything from the store
The new momma will likely be spending most of the first days or weeks at home and will not be able to go out and run errands. Offer to pick up groceries, toiletries, medications, etc. and put them away for her.
3) Don’t spread germs
Momma has spent the past 9 months keeping a healthy safe environment for her little one and you don’t want to be the one to expose the new baby to unnecessary germs. Stay home if you or anyone in your family has been sick or may be coming down with an illness. A scratchy throat or runny nose may not seem like a big deal to you but could mean a hospital visit for a new baby. Do what is best for the baby even though it is tempting when given the opportunity to visit and hold him/her. When visiting, always wash your hands before touching the baby and avoid kissing the baby on their face or hands.
4) Bring food that she and the family enjoys and/or entertainment
Food is always appreciated, it’s even better if it is something they like. Bringing food in a disposable dish is a plus as no one will have to worry about cleaning and returning it. Momma needs to stay nourished so that she can nourish her baby and bringing food is a great way to ensure that this happens. If food isn’t your forte, entertainment is a nice escape from all things baby related.
5) Don’t expect to be fed or entertained
This is not a time for the new momma to be a hostess. Instead, you can make sure she is well taken care of while you are visiting.
6) Make yourself useful
Insist on helping around the house. Momma will likely not ask you to do any chores and may feel bad doing so. A few suggestions of things you may be able to do include: doing the dishes, taking the trash out, doing a load of laundry, vacuuming, checking the mail, taking the dogs out for a walk, entertaining the older children, doing yard work, or going grocery shopping.
7) Don’t stay too long
The new momma has so many things going on at this time in her life. Respect her time. She is tired, recovering, nursing, baby may be sleeping, they are bonding, she is learning how to “mom”, etc.
8) Offer to watch the baby so mom can shower or step out
Sometimes a new momma just wants to be able to shower or step out without having to worry about her baby getting upset. If this is the case, offer to be on baby duty so she can accomplish some of these things. Be prepared to comfort a fussy baby and change dirty diapers.
9) Don’t offer unsolicited advice
Not everyone wants advice, even if you are giving it with the best of intentions. The best thing you can do is listen and talk to the new momma. Only offer advice if you are specifically asked.
Not all moms care about each of these suggestions but it is always a good rule of thumb to follow them anyways, unless momma says otherwise. Remember, that just after the baby arrives, the most important thing that the new mom needs is love. The best way to give love is by respecting her wishes.