My bestie recently gave birth which gave me the idea for this post. With two kids under two and no help ( except her hubby, of course), she’s at her wits ends. The house is a mess, she’s a mess-emotionally, physically, mentally and mom guilt is at it’s peak as she fails to attend to her toddler like she did earlier which only leads to more tantrums and subsequently more guilt. A tiresome cycle indeed! And to add to the equation a new , crying, colic-ridden baby, sleep deprivation and crazy hormones as you try to settle and forge a relationship with the new baby while sorting things out with your toddler- Phew!! Exhausting , right?
Etiquettes rules to observe when visiting new mum:
Motherhood is a lonely place and new mothers are usually quite ecstatic to have visitors but as a good friend, one must try to share responsibilities with the exhausted couple and not add to their burden. Following are few rules to take into consideration when visiting someone who’s just given birth:
Visit when it’s convenient for the couple, not when it’s convenient for you:
Make sure you call and ask the new mum when she’d like you to visit- nobody wants to be caught off guard and feel the need to entertain guests when they’re just trying to settle in with a newcomer in the house.
Imagine! A mum may be in the middle of meltdown, half-dressed with leaking boobs, holding a crying baby and certainly not in a state to receive any guests- and you barge in on her when she’s in such a vulnerable state is pure invasion of privacy and extremely embarrassing for both, the mom and the guest/intruder. So, do not drop in unannounced.
Be on time and keep your visits short:
Be punctual; the new mum may have timed visits around baby’s napping or feeding time and make a check-in call before you leave home to ensure it’s still a good time. This also presents a great opportunity to ask them if you can get any essential item that they may have run out of. Keep your visits short unless you’ve been requested to stay longer.
Take some food with you and be generous about it so they may have leftovers later too. Don’t forget to take kids meal such as fresh/frozen purees, oatmeal, porridge etc if they have a toddler at home too. If you’re not a good cook, order a takeaway or if you’re a really great friend , you can book a home cooked food service and have food delivered to your friend directly. My friend and I are continents apart, so I looked up a home food service, only after consulting with her and booked it for her ( Basically, these are licensed private kitchens who either offer to come home and cook or can make home-made frozen and fresh items and deliver to your place). These are a great, economical option for new mums who are craving home cooked meals but are unable to cook themselves.
Make yourself useful:
I think one of the best gifts you can offer a new mother is to ease up her household chores load so that the new family has some free time to bond. Notice the dirty dishes? Or the over flowing laundry basket? or the messy house? Instead of asking the mom ‘ Can I do anything?’ and putting her in a tight spot, a better question to ask would be ‘ I’d love to take work off off your hands so you have more bonding time with your baby. Can I help with x task’ . Then take the initiative to do it. Trust me, even when most mums say no, they really do want to say yes.
If you’re really close to the couple, you may choose to look after the kids ( feed, change, take them out etc) while the mom takes a power nap or a quick hot shower.
Never visit a newborn baby if you’re sick
Newborn have extremely delicate immune systems so please delay your visit until you’re completely fine and in good health.
Only say nice things
Do not compare your pregnancy and birth stories. Everyone has a different journey and their choices must be respected. Instead, be empathetic and make the new mum feel validated and supported.
Do not offer advice unless asked. Do not push your parenting views on her and when asked for advice, offer it gently and in a non-judgemental way. All parents are different, and new parents especially first timers can particularly lack confidence, so do your best to build their confidence with kind a reassuring words.
Lastly, say you love the name even if you don’t! It’s a parents’ personal choice and thus, must be respected.
I hope these prove useful for you. Do let us know if you have any additional rules to add in comments below.