Six Rules for Visiting a New Mother

Until you’ve been there, it’s almost impossible to imagine what it’s like to be a brand new mother. I was completely shell-shocked, and along with the natural massive tidal-wave of emotions, I remember feeling immensely guilty. Yup – guilty about the way I’d acted with my friends when they first became new mothers. I’m pretty sure I went round to their houses, ate their food, and insisted on holding their newborn, before leaving, and going back to my easy life, safe in the knowledge that if I felt a bit tired that evening, it didn’t matter, because night-time was for sleeping. In exchange, all they got was a gift of impractical {if cute} newborn booties, which their baby would never wear, because babies don’t need shoes {ever!}. So to help others who haven’t got there yet – this is my list for the rules for visiting a new mother. Send it to your friends before you give birth!

{Picture Credit} Portrait of a birth by Chloé Brown of Caught the Light – more from this wonderful shoot on Chloé’s blog.

1. Wait for your friend to invite you to visit. Send supportive texts, but don’t ask for an invitation. Remember she’ll have family on both sides who have to come first, and she’ll be exhausted. Don’t make her feel guilty that you haven’t met her baby yet.

2.  Once you receive the invitation, arrive exactly at the time requested, and leave within the hour. Newborns have a routine of sleeping, eating, looking sleepily around for 30 minutes, and then repeat. Your friend will be new to breastfeeding, so she won’t want an audience. She’ll have timed your visit for the 30 minutes when the baby is awake. Be on time, and then leave – she won’t have the energy for a longer visit.

3. Before you arrive, send a text asking if there’s anything you can pick up for them from the shops.

4. Never accept a meal. Bring food with you – ideally a home-cooked lasagne or stew and a bag of salad. Something that will last for lunch and supper for both parents. If you can’t cook, a couple of decent ready-made meals will do. The one thing that actually reduced me to tears during the first week that we had Ivo home, was trying to think of what we should have for supper. Deciding what to eat becomes bizarrely difficult, and it’s amazing to have something ready to go in the oven.

5. While you’re visiting, if it seems appropriate, do a bit of cleaning. Even if it’s just the washing up, or loading the dishwasher. Make her a cup of tea, or bring her a glass of water. Wash up your cup before you leave.

6. Don’t ask to hold the baby. Newborns are pretty sensitive creatures, and being manhandled by endless people can stress them out, and make them harder to feed, and get to sleep. If your friend offers a cuddle, pop to the bathroom to wash your hands first, and as soon as the baby seems unhappy, hand them back.

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1 Comment

  1. caught the light on May 11, 2015 at 10:55 am

    LOVE these tips – such a good idea as most of us non-parents are utterly clueless. I am most likely to rock up with a packet of biscuits and spend all afternoon staring misty-eyed at your baby, oblivious at all the things you have to do!

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