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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