Etiquette for visiting a new Mama
Your friend/sister/cousin, etc. just had a new baby and you are so excited to go visit and get your snuggles in! And you should be – this is such an exciting time in the new mother’s life. But, unless you’ve experienced it before, you probably don’t know or understand the complexities of postpartum. As a mother who has been there, who has had people flood my home with well-wishes, wanting to snuggle my newborn baby, but too emotional and sensitive to speak up for my needs and wants at the time, I thought I’d put together a post on Etiquette for visiting a new Mama.
Just a note: the photos in this blog post are not photos of mother’s who have complained or had any issues, they’re just beautiful women with their gorgeous babies.
Before you head over to your friend’s house expecting to just have a chat with her and hold her tiny baby, go with the expectation that everything will be different from the last time you saw her. She may be handling becoming a mother really well, or it may be a huge struggle. And if it is a huge struggle, she will likely be trying to pretend she’s handling it well anyway. So, I wanted to equip you with some great practices to make sure Mama is well cared for during this amazing but tough season.
Whether your friend is the kind of hostess that always has baked goods ready and tea on, or the kind of person who just opens whatever bag of store-bought cookies is lying around when she entertains, don’t expect her to do any of this. She’s just gone through a very physical ordeal of giving birth, is likely still in a lot of pain. Depending on how close you are to this new mom, she may feel the need to “entertain” and play hostess when you come to meet the baby. Give her permission not to by showing up with goodies and her favourite Starbucks drink. She’ll be thrilled to be able to sit and eat and enjoy a hot beverage while you hold the baby.
And, don’t be shocked or offended if she doesn’t give the little munchkin up. When my son was born the week before Christmas, we had family, friends and midwives cycling through the house so often in the first week that I hardly held my baby unless he needed milk. During your visit, she’ll likely let you hold the baby, but she may have just got him back from the last visitor. Give her the opportunity to enjoy her new bundle of joy and choose when she wants to give him up.
Mama may be looking for someone to keep her company and have adult conversation with, or she may be so exhausted she can hardly follow what you’re saying. Expect to show up, meet the baby, hold him for a few minutes, let her gush about her sweet babe, and exit at the first sign that she needs a nap.
Depending on how comfortable you are with the new mama, offer to help while you’re there. Show up, say hi, hold the baby, then get to work on folding her laundry, or washing her dishes. Offer to keep the little one company while she showers. When my daughter was tiny and didn’t sleep, after my husband had returned to work and the visitors had thinned out, my sister came over one day, took my daughter in the stroller for a nice long walk and told me to nap. It was honestly the best thing anyone could have done for me. If your relationship is close, offering to watch baby so mom can get some much needed shut-eye is always a great idea.
This one should be obvious, and it goes hand-in-hand with my next point Don’t kiss the baby. We all know babies are fragile and their immune system is new and just learning how to work. But everyone seems to forget that fact when the little babe is in reach. People just want to kiss baby’s little fingers and cheeks, they think as long as they don’t cough on her it’ll be fine. But it’s always best to play it safe. If you aren’t 100% sure you’re healthy, wait until you are to visit.
Hopefully this etiquette for visiting a new mama is helpful and your visit will be a welcome one during this tough season of transition!
It’s not necessary, but if you’re close with mama, bring baby a little gift! She’ll appreciate celebrating her new babe with you. If you’re looking for some great gift options, check out this blog.
Being a mama of little ones is hard. Between Mom-guilt and the unattainable idea that moms should be able to do everything for everyone, get very little time to herself and feel fulfilled by it, we need all the support we can get! You aren't in this alone. We're here to walk through the ups and downs of motherhood together in a judgment-free, supportive way.