My niece is currently 5 days past her due date. I feel like I’m going to explode with excitement to meet her! I only want the best for my sister and her baby, and it reminds me of all the things other people did with my new baby that drove me crazy. From a mom, here are the things we want you to do.
- Respect the fact that that mom is also meeting her baby for the first time. She will never get another “one day old” with this baby, and the parents want to soak up every moment of those valuable first hours. Let them have time to themselves, and ask them when you can come by. NO SURPRISE VISITS.
- Offer to step out. New moms are learning to nurse. It can be stressful and awkward to do this with an audience, and can feel even more weird to ask for privacy. The visitor should offer to leave for a few minutes when it’s time to nurse, don’t wait for mom to ask. Go get a cup of coffee and take a break. And please, God, do NOT expect mom to “just cover up” on your behalf. She’s probably less concerned with her naked body, but more so self conscious of learning a new still while someone watches. After all, you wouldn’t want your first piano lesson while on stage at the recital.Give her time and space to learn.
- Take a suitable gift– don’t drag the six foot teddy bear into the room. Remember that mom, dad, baby, and visitors will be in this little room for a few days. Gifts and flowers make the room feel real crowded, real quick. Parents also need to get all the stuff dragged out to the car and brought in the house. They don’t want to spend time doing it. They want to get their new baby home..
- Offer to wait until baby comes home to visit. Everyone is excited to meet the little bundle of joy, but you have their whole life to meet them. Mom and Dad only have a newborn baby for a short while.
- Don’t visit if you have a cough or cold. Duh.
- One pump in, one pump out. This is a nursing saying for washing/sanitizing your hands every time you enter the room, and every time you leave it.
- Don’t take toddlers with you unless mom requests them. Toddlers have an astronomical numbers of germs, even when they don’t show symptoms of illness. Newborn are incredibly receptive to sickness- both your new baby and the other babies on the floor. You never know what another baby’s situation is; there could be breathing issues or complications. They’re also way too much energy for the hospital room- especially if you plan on holding the new baby instead of wrangling your child.
- Plan a short visit. Mom is tired, learning to breastfeed, taking care of baby, and constantly being poked and prodded by hospital staff. Don’t overstay. Typically a 20 minute visit is customary- just enough time to meet the baby and congratulate the new parents.
- Refrain from perfume, cologne, and cigarettes. Astringent cosmetics on the skin can irritate baby, and strong smells can be overwhelming.
- Don’t comment on the physical appearance of mom or baby. Obviously, say they’re cute, but don’t point out a cone head, hairy skin, skin conditions, mom’s lack of makeup, etc.
- DON’T BE A KIBITZER. REFRAIN FROM UNSOLICITED ADVICE. It’s okay to answer mom’s questions, but wait for her to ask for help. She wants to learn on her own. She wants to do things her way. Just back off, your kids probably didn’t wind up perfect anyways. What do you know?
- Watch the signs. We all want to be there, and we’re all going to have trouble maintaining that 20 minute rule- but there’s more. If baby or parents look really tired, look overwhelmed, or appear less engaged in conversation, WRAP UP THE VISIT. Be respectful, even if this means cutting your 20 minutes even shorter.
- Don’t post birth announcements, baby stats, photos, videos or news on social media without mom’s okay.
Mom and baby have been through a lot. They need time to rest, recover, and get to know each other. Let the parents set the rules and the pace. Be kind, patient and understanding. Most of all, love the crap out of that baby!
Hoping to meet my niece soon, and I apologize ahead of time if I give an attitude while enforcing baby etiquette. I do it out of love.
Kate and the Kids.