Tuesday, 24 November 2015
The Truth About Visitng a New Baby
Until I had a baby, I had no idea the potential there was to be both a benefit and a nuisance when friends or family had a new arrival. So here's a list I've complied over recent weeks as to advice I'd give anyone who knows someone who has just had a baby....
1. DON'T visit / DO offer to do something helpful
There's a tiny new person in your lives, you cannot wait to meet them and have a hold. But you know what, it isn't about you. The arrival of a baby takes some major adjusting to for the new mum and dad. Plus mum will be recovering from the birth (don't under-estimate just how much labour affects women physically and emotionally). Plus both parents are experiencing a level of exhaustion unknown to them previously (trust me, the word 'tired' doesn't cut it). Fitting in visitors is at best an inconvenience, at worst a really stressful factor to fit into a day that is already pretty full with feeding, changing, settling a new baby, as well as maintaining a level of functionality including eating, washing and sleeping themselves. Please, don't ask to come over, wait to be invited (and accept it may be some time before they are ready for you).
However, if you do get the green light to drop by, be helpful. Offer to do the washing up, ask if they need any shopping picking up. And DO NOT let the new mum or dad make you a cuppa - they're exhausted, you know how to use a kettle, give them a break.
2. DON'T phone / DO text
As already described, life gets somewhat chaotic once there is a baby on the scene. A ringing phone is nearly always going to be an unwelcome intrusion, regardless of how sensible a time of day it seems to be calling (normal timing goes out the window, and any 'down time' the parents experience is likely to be used catching up on sleep, so again a ringing phone is generally unwelcome).
However, do send a text to the proud parents letting them know you are thinking of them and to get in touch if they need anything. And please let them know that you do not expect a reply (and mean it).
3. DON'T ask direct questions about the birth / DO show an interest if the new mum chooses to talk to you about it
Every woman's birth experience is individual, and potentially an emotional or even traumatic experience. And unless they chose to share their story, it is also as private as any other intimate experience a person might encounter. So don't launch into a conversation asking direct questions about what it was like, did this happen, did that happen. However, if the new mum chooses to share her experience with you, show an interest and be compassionate in your response.
4. DON'T bring flowers / DO bring flowers if supplying a vase
Having to root around in the cupboard to find a vase is, again, a massively inconvenient job when there's a new baby on the scene. However, flowers are lovely so, if you know the new parents will appreciate them, then bring along a vase and sort the flowers out yourself - that way they can enjoy the gift without having to do a thing.
5. DON'T tell the new mum how tired she looks / DO reassure her she's doing well
No one wants to hear that they are not looking their best, particularly at such a challenging and emotionally charged time. So remember that old adage ' if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all'. So, if genuinely meant, do let new mum she's looking well, or motherhood clearly suits her. If she really is looking tired (and most likely she will be), then just don't go there.
But do let both new parents know just how well they are doing - everyone needs to hear that when faced with the enormity of taking care of a tiny baby. Kind words well meant are one of the best things you can give them.
Have you got any experiences of welcome / unwelcome input from friends or family following the birth of your child? Please do let me know, and help to populate this list even further.