Friends and family are always eager to visit new moms in the hospital and see the baby. Before you do this, however, make sure you're sensitive to the needs of a woman who has just given birth. Here are the top ten things new mamas want you to know before visiting them in the hospital.
1. She May Prefer You Don't Visit
Don't take it personally, but many new moms prefer not to have lots of visitors right after they've given birth. Even if you're a close friend, mothers often want time to rest and spend all of her time with the baby and her immediate family.
So the first question to ask is whether she's accepting visitors at all. A good idea is to text her partner and ask, "Is she accepting visitors right now? No worries if not, but I thought I would check. Keep me posted :)". This way you aren't forcing it and are keeping it open to them to invite you to come over. You'll have plenty of time to visit her when she gets home, so don't worry if it takes time to get the "okay".
2. Always Arrange Visits in Advance
Don't just drop in on a brand new mom unannounced. Giving birth is emotional, exhausting, and it is an emotionally and physically challenging time. Make sure you talk to her and arrange your visit at a time that's convenient for her. Remember that she'll have unpredictable sleeping patterns at this time. You may catch her sleeping, or simply recovering, if you just stop by at any random time. Be considerate and ask her to suggest an appropriate time for a visit.
3. Don't Bring an Entourage
When arranging your visit, don't assume it's ok to bring others with you. It's usually best to come alone or with a family member who's also close to the new mom. When arranging your visit, always ask if it's all right to bring someone else. New moms are easily overwhelmed so it's best to keep visiting parties as small as possible. As a rule, it's best to leave kids, friends of friends and distant family members home.
4. Keep Your Germs Away From the Baby
Even a mild illness, such as a cold, is potentially dangerous to a newborn infant. If you're just getting a cold, the flu, or other ailment or feel one coming on, stay away from the hospital. Avoid even the slightest risk that you could endanger the health of the baby. Keep in mind that even if you've been sick recently and are mostly over it, there could still be lingering germs. Make sure you don't bring a sick person with you to the hospital. Even if you're feeling fine, remember to wash your hands before and after visiting with mom and the baby.
5. Don't Assume It's OK to Hold the Baby
While everyone loves to hold the adorable little one, new mothers have an exceptionally strong bond with their newborns and aren't always eager to pass them around. This isn't selfishness but a hard-wired maternal instinct. Keep in mind that the new mom is probably getting a long parade of visitors who want to hold her baby.
Be considerate and always ask permission. In fact, it really is better if you don't even ask and just wait for her to ask you instead.
Don't simply hold out your hands as it can even create a moment where the mom doesn't want you to hold the baby, but she doesn't want to say no. Before you even ask, be mindful of the circumstances. If the baby is sleeping, don't expect the mom to wake him up. And when you do get permission to hold the baby, don't keep him too long.
6. She Doesn't Want Your Advice
Even if you're an experienced parent, a new mom isn't in the mood for lots of advice from visitors. She already has a doctor and other medical professionals nearby for immediate issues. She has plenty of time after the baby gets home and (if she's a first-time mom) learn the ropes of parenting and discover the joys and struggles of being a new mom. At this point, however, she isn't in the mood for lots of unsolicited advice on breastfeeding, infant formulas, the best types of strollers, or anything else.
7. She May Not be Feeling Talkative
Giving birth is really, really tiring, and new mothers are not always eager to engage in long conversations or start facebooking baby spam with you. Be mindful of her mood and energy levels and don't expect to sit and chat for hours on end. It's usually best to keep your visits short and sweet and not take up too much of her time. While you are there, keep the attention on the mom and her baby. Leave discussing your own issues to zero and wait until she's home and fully recovered to carry on with your normal conversations.
8. Don't Use the Washroom in the Mom's Room
Did you know that the hospital washroom is only for the patients? If you have to use the restroom while visiting, use one of the public ones supplied by the hospital. It's a violation to use the mom's private washroom, even if you ask permission.
9. Bring a Delicious or Adorable Gift
She's been surviving mostly on hospital food so she'll certainly enjoy a home-cooked meal or something delicious from a nearby takeout place. Make her something from the heart like lactation boosting blueberry muffins. If she's lucky enough to have Dad, her partner, or other family members bringing her food, so much the better. It's preferable to have too much food than not enough. At the very least, she'll appreciate the gesture and can have the food brought home for later.
As a close friend, you can always step it up a notch and send her a breastfeeding gift basket to her house in the first week with lots of good lactation snacks, leaking boobie pads, nipple cream, and a few stylish nursing tops or that cute nursing hoodie you know she doesn't have time to order online herself. She isn't thinking about shopping, but the functional and fashionable gifts will surely brighten up her day.
If you want to send baby clothes then make sure to buy some that will fit a little later since newborns grow super fast.
10. She Needs Support and a Positive Attitude
New moms are in a physically and emotionally sensitive state. Be aware that making certain comments or bringing up certain issues could have an unintended effect. For example, don't tell her that she looks tired or point out symptoms of stress such as baggy eyes. Most of all, don't point out potential problems with the baby, even minor things. Newborn babies come in a wide variety of sizes and appearances. The last thing a new mother wants is to have visitors pointing out possible flaws or asking disturbing questions. Asking, "Can I do anything for you?" is always an excellent question to offer. Similarly, don't discuss yours or other people's problems. Stay focused on the positive.
So though you may want to high tail it to see your girl..a lil' restraint and thought will go a long way in your friendship as the new mom transitions, and gets herself focused into her new adventurous life. When she's ready, go visit her and do stuff. Make her feel comfy, hold the baby, put some dishes in her washer for her, and bring her something good. Friends are special people and she needs you. She'll be even more excited to be a new mom knowing her thoughtful and sweet friend is there for her.
Share this with your friends before they visit a new mama too!