How to visit a new Mum October 29 2015

Last week I was listening to two ladies discuss when to visit their friend who had just had a baby. They were both very excited for the first time Mum, as well as relieved that everything had gone ‘well’ (anyone who has had a baby knows that even the most seamless of births is still FULL ON).

The baby had arrived that morning and one lady planned to visit that evening. The other was going to wait “about a month” to pop over to her house once invited. I’m not sure where you sit in this debate, but I am definitely with the latter. 

When people are pregnant (especially for the first time) they tend to invite or even encourage their friends to come and visit them in hospital as soon as they hear the good news. They probably picture new Mums that they have visited before (or gorgeous photo’s they have seen) sitting up in bed either lovingly holding a baby, or with the cutest newborn wrapped snugly and quietly next to them. 

This imagery can lead to you to believe that for several days at least, this is pretty much all a new Mum does whilst in Hospital. Well I am here to remind you that it is NOT. A woman who has just given birth and a family that has just met their new baby, is not just sitting there just waiting for visitors. Here is a list (that is definitely not comprehensive) to remind or surprise you as to what exactly has been going on in that hospital room or ward immediately prior to your visit:

 New Mums have been:

  • admiring their newborn creation in peace and quiet 
  • trying to ‘pass’ their first motion (ie: poo) 
  • trying to call their best friend to tell them the most intimate and intricate details of the birth experience. O.M.G!
  • crying unexpectantly and uncontrollably 
  • allowing all sorts of people to have another look at every single part of her body
  • inspecting and rubbing cream on their red cracked nipples
  • putting ice packs or heat packs across their bulging breasts
  • attempting to attach their baby to their sore nipples and bulging breasts in PRIVATE
  • trying to grab the attention of the obstetrician / paediatrician / nurse / lactation consultant / cleaner / caterer (or all of these important people) when they wizz quickly in and out of the room
  • sleeping
  • showering
  • admiring their newborn creation in peace and quiet 
  • filling out the mountains of paperwork
  • reading the mountains of paperwork
  • attending to the GIANT pad that is inside their granny undies 
  • getting changed out of their hospital gown into an outfit that fits / is respectable for visitors / doesn’t hurt any or all of these - boobs or tummy or nether regions
  • eating whatever they are craving and without judgement 
  • trying to change the tiny little nappy of their tiny little baby and then discuss in detail the contents
  • giving the all important (and often nerve wracking) first bath
  • spending time with their Partner (and admiring their newborn creation in peace and quiet)
  • introducing big brothers or sisters properly to their new sibling

These are just some of the 'normal' things occurring, but the list goes on and on and on.

I really believe that the hospital is a time to rest, recuperate, be with your baby and ask a million questions. There will be plenty of time to share the wonder with visitors, further down the track.

Clearly I have a definite opinion on this. Obviously there are exceptions for close family and friends to visit the hospital, but even these people should have received an invitation (a new one AFTER the birth experience) and a suggested day / time that it would suit the new Mother. Stick to that time, no matter what the demands on your own schedule are.

The rest of the admirers can wait. Some may have to wait a long time. Don’t be offended if it is a lot longer than you would have needed or anticipated. Each new Mum is different and each new Mum disappears into the baby bubble for short or long periods. It is normal and expected and looking back, I say should be embraced and enjoyed. 

So, if and when you do get INVITED to visit, bring something. 

I don’t mean an expensive baby gift (you can if you would like) I mean something USEFUL. A freshly baked batch of cookies aimed at increasing her milk supply or some other nutritionally packed item that will help to start restoring her body. Bring frozen dinners, a bag full of groceries, something that they need. Without being asked to.

Or ask the new Mum before hand what she is craving. For some it has been a very long nine months without Sushi or Brie or Corona or a spicy Indian curry :)

Upon arrival, text or quietly knock….don’t come inside screaming your excitement down the hallway and either wake the sleeping baby or big brother or husband who has JUST gone to sleep.

While you are there ask if you can put on a load of washing, help prepare dinner, unpack the dishwasher or something else useful while you chat. But remember not to offend them, or their once picture perfect home when you do make a suggestion. They’ve probably sprinted around for ten minutes hiding mess and clearing away dirty plates as you walked up the front path.

If you are offered something to eat or drink please say no unless you are dying of thirst or you can completely make it yourself. Anything you need, you should arrive with. 

If they are happy for you to hold the baby, offer the new Mum ten minutes to herself. If the baby is awake (especially if grizzly) offer to walk the pram around the block. She may want to shower / shave her legs / dry her hair / change her pajama’s. Or she may not, but at least offer.

Remember it is all about them, not all about you. Maybe take a walk in the fresh air together. If she can walk (refer back to previous list).

DO NOT STAY LONG. If you announce your departure and they beg for you to stay, do stay but maybe offer again to do something while you are there. It is easy to fold or iron clothes whilst talking. Hand wash some bottles. Do something. 

On your way out the door offer to walk the dog, take the rubbish out or hang up a load of washing on the way. If you noticed that they were either out of milk or bread or had mentioned they were craving a real coffee, quickly buy it and drop it back on their front door step. 

I am not saying that you need to do all of these things but offering is a good start. Even if they say no to all of them, you will come across as the low maintenance, helpful and respectful friend who they WILL call when they do need something. Wouldn’t you rather be THAT person than the one who demanded peppermint tea, coughed all over the baby and then out-stayed their welcome?

Be useful, be available but do not get in the way.

As much as it may look like a peaceful and tidy home, most often the scene is more like a duck floating across a lake. 

All calm and graceful on the surface....but paddling like crazy underneath.