Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tips for visiting a new mom

I've been crafting this post in my head ever since I had Ford and am finally getting down to business and writing it. After I got married, there were so many little etiquette things I took note of when I went to weddings. You also realize how big not RSVPing, not showing up to the reception, etc. are after you get married. Mad respect for brides now that I am a Mrs. and I have to say I love going to weddings now knowing how much work it is to pull one off and that I don't have to do it again! Same goes for being a new parent. Nothing anyone can say can prepare you for being a new parent. Sure you can read What to Expect and take a breastfeeding class but your baby is still going to throw you a curveball and newsflash... breastfeeding hurts at the beginning! Something they warn you against in those classes.

Now I'm getting off topic because the meat of this post is to give you a few pointers when going to visit a new parent. Most first time moms assume they will give birth the old fashioned way and since that wasn't my story, I was completely unprepared for my recovery. I told all my friends to come visit (before I had Ford) and we even brought Yahtzee in our hospital bag...no wonder the nurses laughed when they saw it. Below are some key recommendations for visiting new parents that I wish I would have known before having a baby.

Wait until they are home to visit. Like I said above, my world was rocked when I woke up from surgery feeling like I had been run over by a truck. I didn't get out of bed for 24 hours and had a cathedar bag attached to my bed. Trying to sit up to nurse my brand new baby hurt like hell so you can imagine the pain I endured to sit up and entertain guests. We were so grateful for people bringing food, snacks, and loving on our brand new baby but next time I will ask that just my family comes to visit. Now I know some women who feel fabulous after pushing a baby out so I may be solo on that one but I think we can all agree that breastfeeding is tricky and it can get awkward with guests when you, your husband, your mom, your nurse, and your lactation consultant are all trying to help your tiny little baby latch. 

If you do make a hospital visit, bring snacks/coffee/energy drinks for dad, tell mom she looks beautiful, snuggle the baby for 5 minutes then leave. If you are really close to mom, it's a whole different ball game. I wanted my mom and sisters up there as much as possible to hold Ford while I slept, help me feed him, make me eat, and give Jon a chance to go shower and sleep. I didn't mind being topless and attempting latching my baby in front of my family. 

Be flexible. Those first 2 weeks home from the hospital are when most people want to visit yet they are the hardest 2 weeks of your life. Babies don't know the difference between day and night and often times new moms spend an hour every 2-3 hours breastfeeding. Ask the parents what time works for them, get a ballpark time, and tell them to text you beforehand in case of a schedule change. Baby could be having an epic meltdown at 7pm when they said you could comeover or mom may finally get the baby down and want to lay down herself. And if new mom says you kno what, this week isn't a good week, don't get offended. After 2 weeks of jam packed visitors I was ready for time alone as a family. I told Jon I wanted to take a hiatus from visitors and it was the best thing we did for our sanity.

Reschedule if you're sick. No ifs ands or buts. Period.

Bring food. I will never go visit a new mom and baby without food. Those first few weeks are such a blur and the last thing you have time for is preparing a meal. The most I made was a bowl of cereal but when I had live in help (mom the first week and sister the second), they made my cereal for me. New moms are also incredibly hungry. You thought pregnant women ate a lot? Breastfeeding burns so many calories and when you are doing it non stop, your body is drained. If the new parents decline dinner they are just being nice and don't want to inconvenience you. Bring something they can pop in the freezer for a later date or bring snacks (fruit, muffins, breads). Bring everything in disposable containers or containers they can keep. Trying to figure out which tupperware is which neighbors is not a task a new mom needs to spend time on. Also ask them if there are any grocery items you can pick up- coffee creamer, a pack of diapers, Tylenol. 

Don't bring clothes. As cute as baby clothes are to buy, don't bring a new mom clothes. She probably got 3x the clothes she actually needed at her baby shower and still hasn't found the time to return doubles. Bringing a gift also requires a thank you note and even if you promise you don't need one, this will weigh on her mind and she will write you a thank you note at 2am when she could be sleeping.

Don't stay long. There is nothing cuter than a snuggly little baby that sleeps in your arms, am I right? As addicting as their smell is and as easy as it is to watch their chests move up and down as they breathe, make it quick. I remember the first 4 weeks of Ford's life in constant worry about when I was going to sleep next. The perfect guest knocks on your door, brings in a container of food, holds baby for 10 minutes and tells mom she looks beautiful, rested, skinny, and then leaves. Again, circumstances are many but I am talking about those first 2 weeks where mom may have been up from midnight to 5am and not had a shower in 4 days. I was still so sore from my C section, hobbling around protecting my incision and putting frozen peas on my sore boobs and sometimes it got to be very draining entertaining my guests. Watch for cues. If baby gets fussy and mom looks flustered, hit the road. Or if mom says something about baby needing to feed, go ahead and pack up your stuff so she can nurse comfortably. Nothing is more awkward than hosting adult men in your house and having to nurse your brand new baby. Like the hospital visit, if you are super close to new mom, everything changes. My sisters would come over and I was able to go lay down, take a shower, or get on my computer and not have to be "on". If you do plan on staying a while, be sure to offer new mom some time for herself. Let her grab a shower or offer to fold some adorable little baby clothes.

Wash your hands in front of new mom. Even if you used hand sanitizer in the car, it will give her peace of mind. 

Love on that baby and don't forget to love on mama. Being a new mom is such a wonderful, weird, emotional roller coaster that nothing can prepare you for. The sleep deprivation wasn't hard for me, it was the C section recovery that rocked me. I felt like my body was failing me, never having ever been in so much pain, and I couldn't see the light at the end of the road. Those aches and pains are just a memory now and my incision is a reminder of my triumph as a mother and delivering my son. There is nothing greater than introducing your baby to your family and friends and being loved on, supported, and embraced in your new role. If new mom cries when you ask her how she is, it is 100% normal. Give her a hug, tell her she's glowing, and remind her she can drink wine now that she's not pregnant.

I remember it was about October when we dug into the last freezer meal we were given after Ford was born. 2 whole months of not having to cook, that is love right there. I don't know how I could have survived without the help of family and friends as we started the journey of parenthood, it does take a village to raise a child. 

What are your tips/recommendations for visiting new parents?

38 comments:

Meagan Wied said...

Love this post! I wish I could hand this out to people. ;)

"B" said...

I love this post. So true all of it. You never realize until you have been through it how uncomfortable it is to have "aquaintenances" visit in the hospital when the dr or nurse is in every ten minutes to check something and all you want to do is sleep and hold your baby or try to nurse NOT in public:)

Megan said...

So true! Especially visitors in he hospital. I was so out of it, anxious and exhausted. For the visitors at home, what I've done in the past is for some visitors (besides my parents, sisters, and their spouses), I use nursing to my advantage and say I need to feed him and go into the other room for 30 or so minutes to get that much needed breather. :) Leaving my poor husband to entertain! hehe

Melissa said...

I love this post! While we're not quite at the baby stage ourselves, our friends and family are starting to get there and I really want to be conscious of all of these things as I visit! Like you said, post-wedding I have a totally different view on weddings, RSVPing, gift giving and etc., so I'm sure the same will be true for babies. Thanks for sharing, Ruthie!! xo

Daisy said...

What a great list!! I had a natural birth but feel the same way. It was so overwhelming for me the first week, I wanted to cry just about everyday! This is a good list to share with family and friends :)

Jess Beer said...

This is a great list! There so many things you don't understand yourself until after baby that I wish people just knew, and these are some of them!

Melissa Bridges said...

What were your favorite freezer meals? I always try to think of things that everyone (mom and dad) will like.

Gina said...

Right on Ruthie!!!

Lauren H Edmondson said...

what a great post! I feel like people are so eager to visit and be a part of a new baby's (and new mom) life that they forget about what a trying time a delivery can be. amen on the "don't stay forever" point. I had to pull the "oops, it's time for me to go nurse Sawyer" a few times in hopes that people would leave while I pretended to nurse him in another room (pitiful, I know).

Laura @ The Everyday Joys said...

I agree with much of this! Especially the washing hands thing. That just goes right through me, especially with one person in particular who never washes his hands who visited at the hospital and claimed he washed his hands right before he came. Okay...and you touched how many things in the mean time? Eeeeek!

Bridget said...

This is all so true. You really don't know much of this until you actually go through it. Since T was in the NICU we didn't have any visitors in the hospital except our moms and my sister and I was thankful for that. It was hard enough going from room to room, learning to breastfeeding and healing that I couldn't imagine having to entertain visitors. That is so awesome you got so many meals...I am going to do that going forward for my friends that I visit!!!

Gina said...

You should add in there don't share photos or names until the parents have. I've seen that happen a few times lately. Luckily that didn't happen to me and I know it's an exciting time but that just irritates me. People may actually want to share it with family and friends via phone calls or emails before the social blast.
Great post! We told people to just visit when we were home, my husband was very set about just having family and my best friend visit.

Heather Leigh @ Like a Morning cup of coffee said...

Truth! That and don't take millions of pictures! I had a friend visit me at the hospital with evie and she took millions of pictures of everything.. She even got one of me breastfeeding with out even me knowing! Talk about awkward.

I've been wanting to write a post like this. It's so great that you throw wisdom out like this! I could have used it when I was pregers :)

Heather Leigh @ Like a Morning cup of coffee said...

Truth! That and don't take millions of pictures! I had a friend visit me at the hospital with evie and she took millions of pictures of everything.. She even got one of me breastfeeding with out even me knowing! Talk about awkward.

I've been wanting to write a post like this. It's so great that you throw wisdom out like this! I could have used it when I was pregers :)

Teresa Cox said...

I love this post! My sister had a baby last July and I've had a few friends who've had babies and it's amazing how different they feel about certain things. My sister couldn't wait for us to come to the hospital to visit the day after my niece was born. She also had people over all the time in the first two weeks and throughout her maternity lave. My BIL really wanted that alone time with his new family but she wanted to be busy and surrounded by people. I couldn't believe it! Every other person I know wanted that alone time because they were tired, exhausted, and just not up for visitors. To each their own I guess! I know I will love that alone time when I have a baby.

Branden & Aubri said...

Great post!!! Having constant visitors in the hospital AND at home just about killed me. Especially when the nurse comes in and tries to have you breast feed with a room full of people!! Great advice on the come by, bring food, stay 10 minutes, and leave. SO true.

Branden & Aubri said...

Great post!!! Having constant visitors in the hospital AND at home just about killed me. Especially when the nurse comes in and tries to have you breast feed with a room full of people!! Great advice on the come by, bring food, stay 10 minutes, and leave. SO true.

Amy in Austin said...

We had friends who recently had a baby, and the sister set up a care calendar for visits and meals, along with a note to double check before going to visit. This helped the new mom not have to coordinate the calendar as much, and also helped visitors bring a variety of meals- since everyone put what they were bringing. I think it was really helpful for all parties involved.

Beth said...

If I don't know the new Mom well enough to walk in the door and tell her to go take a shower, a nap, a walk ... then I don't go. There will be plenty of time for that. Other than clean hands, it's not about the baby - it's about the new mom and dad, but especially the MOM. You are on point with what Moms need ... but I would add run the dishwasher, take out the recycling, all that stuff. If you're not that close of a friend to know where her dishes go, then don't go!

Another offer is to send the new mom and dad to take a rest together. They need couple time - not for THAT - but to just reflect on all the changes. He needs to tell her she's amazing; she needs to tell him he's amazing.

GREAT post, Ruthie!

Joy Harris said...

Thanks so much for posting this! As many of our friends are starting to have babies, I truly want to be a blessing and not a burden to them. I will be taking a cue from these tips :)
-Joy @ LiveInTheRound.com

Brianne Bracco said...

Fabulous advice! I only make hospital visits to my closest closest girlfriends. Otherwise I will wait to see the baby. And I always make sure they see I put sanitizer on my hands in the room. But with that being said, I will probably be a hypocrite because my husband is a little more private and probably wants to use the hospital time for just us..don't know I explain that to my girlfriends I went to see in the hospital lol

Becky Borgman said...

I would say if you do visit the hospital make sure to call! I had a few visitors come without heads up and it was right when I was about to nap or nurse Lydia. I even had a neighbor I barely know come right on in while i was nursing. Visiting is so sweet, but you are right...a quick hi and "you look great" is perfect.

Christina Stirneman said...

WONDERFUL post!! I am not a mom but have several friends that are brand new parents/about to pop, and I never knew exactly when to go visit or what to bring.

shelleystursma said...

This site is awesome for setting up a meal calendar for a new mom (or anyone who could use that type of help). http://takethemameal.com/

I preferred guests in the hospital, but mostly because I didn't want to have to worry about what my house looked like. :)

Kristina Anderson said...

Is the little one in the photo Ford? I think it looks like him. :)

And thank you for the post! I'm not a parent, but it's good advice for others out there.

Chandelle Foote said...

I second all of these tips!!! Especially the one about baby clothes...but I would say don't bring a gift at all ha ha I remember saying so many times to my husband "I'm really thankful for these gifts, but dang I wish we wouldn't have gotten any so we didn't have to send thank yous"! I guess I"m not alone :) And call me weird, but I told all of our visitors to come at the same time at the hospital so once we were home I wouldn't have to "entertain" .... we didn't have any visitors after we got home and then we had Christian's baptism when he was about 2 weeks old and just had a party then for everyone to see him. I really liked it that way, but would have loved someone bringing me some food! lol

aynsley price said...

I love this post. My baby is 3 weeks old,and i was actually surprised by how offended some of my husband's extended family was about not being invited to visit us at the hospital. (i had an emergency c-section, and another surgery at the same time to remove an ovary, i was not up for visitors) I was amazed at some people's sense of entitlement that they had to see my baby right away..... it would have been much nicer if people had considered are need to get back on our feet alone before pushing to visit. It would be nice if people could follow your tips!!

Sarah @ Life, Love & Dinner said...

These are all great. It is so true that you don't really know until you have a baby but I really couldn't believe the amount of people who have had children who came to visit and broke so many of those rules. My husband and I both said that next time we will do things so differently. The only good thing about people visiting in the first two weeks was that my husband was still home to help and it forced me to take a shower!

Unknown said...

I would add, if it's a second baby, bring a small gift for the older child. Even just a coloring book or little car or something, so they feel special too, since the new baby is getting all the attention.

Evelina Fortuna said...

I love this post! Can you maybe write about what food to bring for new parents? My friend had a baby recently and I didn't know what food to bring!

Ketrin Jones said...

I'll be posting this on facebook for friends/family to read in about 6 months!! :) shhhhh

Dana said...

Very helpful reminders for me since we are visiting a very close friend and her new baby on Monday! It's been 10 years since my boy, so a refresher is good! I plan to take cupcakes (I hope she thinks that's a good food gift) and diapers!

Rebekah @ Living && Learning said...

This is wonderful! The majority of my stress and anxiety after C was born was guest related!

Annie One Can Cook! said...

This is perfect, Ruthie!! I couldn't agree more with the being flexible, keeping visits short, and NOT bringing clothes (so. many. clothes)! This seriously should be printed out and handed out to visitors at hospitals, ha.

Megan C said...

Those are great tips and I'm so glad you wrote this because I felt the same way. I didn't except to have a c-section bug I did and it was so hard to have so many people visit in the hospital when I couldn't hardly sit up. Those first two weeks we so mentally and physically draining and a lot of people who visited stayed way too long. Also, a tip to add to the list for visiting or being with new parents: don't get offended if they ask you to do or to not do something. Parents have a right to raise their children the way the want. That might mean they don't want their child held while they are sleeping because they are sleep training them or just the fact that since he wasn't a good napper at first and he just got settled for a nap they wanted him to rest. I know some people got offended when I told them not to pick our baby up while he was sleeping. However, I loved visitors and all the help I could get. Without it I wouldn't have survived but I understand your need for a break, I needed it too.

Jessica Whitman-Horton said...

This is so so good Ruthie!!! I'm tempted this time to say no visitors for two weeks, unless you drop off food and stay for ten minutes!!! ;) But pretty sure the second time people don't care as much so maybe it won't be a problem! Loved this post, xo!!

Carolyn said...

These are all GREAT tips!!

Morgan | Mrs. Priss said...

Awesome post! I agree with every one of these. I'm about to pop with my third baby (two previous hospital births, this one will be a home birth) and the uninvited guest/pop-ins/overstaying their welcome situations were by far the most stressful things about having my first two! Trying to get to know your baby and nurse while everyone's just chillin on your couch for 3 hours... not cool, man. This time, I'm kind of thinking I'm going to keep the entire delivery quiet until a few days later, seeing as people know where I live and they'll probably just want to stop by casually because it's all going down at home. I still would like a little privacy. ;)

One thing I would add is if you (like me) have a harder time being blunt with guests and don't want to worry about a confrontation, have your husband/mom/bff be the "bad guy". It's even more pressure trying to entertain and be polite when all you really want to do is be alone with your new baby! I had my entire in-law family stop by and stay a long time... until our 2 year old niece hit my newborn daughter on the head and I started bawling and went into the other room. I heard them whispering, "sometimes it's hard for new moms... a lot of emotions..." I'm like, hey, if it made you get the hint that you've been here too long, I'll be a drama queen! ;)

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