Before I had my own children, I really never gave this subject much thought. I mean what’s more exciting than a new little life? I want to see that baby! But after Cassie was born, the “new baby visit” had a whole new meaning for me.
The first thing I decided was that I would never visit a new mom and baby in the hospital unless it was one of my sisters or my best friend. I had pre-eclampsia with both deliveries, which meant being treated with magnesium before, during, and after delivery. To this day, those times are foggy for me. I look completely strung out in the pictures my Mom snapped and to think I had visitors during this time…ugh.
The time in the hospital is such a learning period. Cassie was a 34-weeker and in NICU, but Connor came at 37 weeks and was able to come home with me. Even though he was my second baby, it was really my first true newborn breastfeeding experience. (I mostly pumped in the beginning with Cassie since she was so tiny.) I can clearly remember those early feeding challenges. When you are first learning, you need to feel comfortable to be exposed as you are trying to position the baby and get her to latch. You don’t want to be trying to maneuver a blanket to cover yourself from visitors.
As a new mom in the hospital, you are also so exhausted. How can you get any rest with visitors coming in and out? So for me the visits wait until Mom and baby are at home.
Here is a list of my personal rules for visiting new parents:
- Ask the new parents when would be a good time for you to visit. Give them the opportunity to tell you when is the best time for them, taking into consideration when other visitors will be there, feeding times, etc.
- Bring food, prepare or heat it when you get there, hold the baby while the parents eat, and clean up the mess afterwards.
- Wash your hands. New parents are very protective of their little bundle, they want you to wash your hands, don’t make them ask, just do it.
- Offer to help, be specific. If you just ask, “Can I help with anything?” Chances are you will get a big “no.” But if you are specific about a task, they may take you up on the offer. Better yet, just do it. If you see a basket of laundry, start folding, dishes in the sink, wash them.
- Bring a gift for the baby and something for Mom too. I usually bring my favorite swaddle blankets for the new baby or a fun outfit. For my sisters I picked up some cute, comfy yoga pants and a zip front hoody. It’s nice to have something fresh and new to put on that fits and isn’t maternity-sized, and the zip front makes it easy to nurse.
- Tell Mom and Dad they are doing a great job. Build their confidence. They may likely feel like they have no idea what they are doing.
- Keep the visit brief — just enough time to feed them, meet the baby, and help a little.
- Let them know you are available to help them in the future if they need it.
I always hope to make it a pleasant experience so I will be invited back for another baby fix!
—Kelly Ryan, LMSW, Postpartum Adjustment Coordinator, Mommy to Cassie (7) and Connor (5)