There is nothing more exciting than getting the news that the bundle of joy everyone has been waiting for has finally arrived. As soon as you get the word, you probably start making plans in your head about when you're going to go visit the baby and the gifts you hope to bring. And while all of this is sweet and many new parents appreciate it, there are some things to consider.
After a mother gives birth, she goes through many changes. No matter how she gave birth, she's most likely feeling it and trying to heal. Not to mention, she's exhausted! The new mom is getting to know her baby and figuring him or her out. Anxiety could be at an all-time high.
Here are a few things to remember when it comes to post-baby etiquette after someone you love has a baby:
Respect The Adjustment Period
Give new parents time to bond with their baby and make sense of what will most likely be a crazy routine for the next few weeks. Even if they call you from the hospital to tell you the news, don't assume that's an invitation to drop in or call multiple times. Texting or emailing is a life-saver in cases like this! That way, when the parents have time in between trying to get some sleep and caring for a new baby, they can respond. Please don't take offense if they don't respond right away! There is a lot happening.
Don't Drop By Unannounced
This is the worst thing you can do to new parents! Dropping by unannounced can make them feel very overwhelmed. New parents may not have the heart to tell you that it's not a good time or may be worried about hurting your feelings. I have personally witnessed how hard it can be when you have a rotating number of people coming in and out of your house after having a baby. The mother is usually struggling to sit up in a robe looking exhausted, trying to smile, look happy, and entertain, while her baby goes from hand to hand. Respect the mother's space and the fact that she is extremely fatigued. She probably didn't even get to shower that day for all you know.
Also, family members: don't show up with an overnight bag, temporarily move in and start rearranging things in the home. Although most people know it's coming from a good place, it can make new parents feel stressed and tense. If they would like help with the baby or want you to stay overnight, let them ask you. Or if you're unsure, ask them.
Be On Time and Don't Overstay Your Welcome
Once new parents finally get it together and ask you to come over on a specific day, try your best to be on time. They most likely scheduled that time after the baby had a nap or feeding, or around a time when the baby will have the most energy. When and if you come late, it can really throw the parents and the baby off schedule. If you are going to be late, give them a call to let them know and check to make sure if you should still come that same day. It may be best to reschedule.
When you are visiting, keep your eye on the clock. I personally think a 30-60 minute visit is appropriate. Nothing longer than that. Be aware of non-verbal signs that the parents might show of being sleepy.
Leave Your Young Children Or Other Pets At Home
When visiting, avoid bringing your small children or pets. Small children can get restless. They may cry and be unable to sit still. You don't want your toddler to be disruptive or wake the baby while napping/resting. Even if the parents have toddlers already, it's best to not add to the noise factor.
Also, leave your pet behind. You don't want your dog or cat in the mix when a new baby is only a few days old. If the parents already have pets that's okay, just don't assume it's time for a doggy playdate.
Don't Bring Extra Guests
People always do this and I wonder how they are comfortable with it. It is not a good idea to bring extra people with you who are uninvited to visit a new baby. You don't know if the parents will be comfortable and they may feel like you put them on the spot. If something comes up and you have to make arrangements for someone to come with you, check and ask ahead of time to make sure it is okay.
Avoid Visiting If You're Sick
A new baby's immune system is super sensitive. If you're sick, the considerate thing to do would be to stay away. A new baby can get sick and possibly have complications fighting off an illness that we can easily beat as adults in a short period of time.
Wash Your Hands or Use Hand Sanitizer
Even if you think your hands are clean, always wash them before holding a new baby. We carry many germs and you should always be cautious to not pass it on to the tiny newcomer.
Don't Kiss The Baby
I know it may be tempting, but don't ever kiss someone's else's baby, especially when the child is a newborn. I've seen many people do this, sometimes even on the mouth. If you are not the parent, this is not appropriate to do. You want to be mindful, so please do not upset new parents by doing this.
Bring Cooked Food/Ask Them What They Need
If you're a close family member, be intentional and ask them how you can be supportive, don't take it into your own hands. While flowers and balloons are great, you would be surprised to know that new parents prefer food or another task that can help. While adjusting to newborn life, parents don't have much time to make meals. Bringing something that is cooked and can be reheated is often very appreciated.
Also, don't be afraid to ask how you can help during your visit. A load of laundry, a quick grocery run, or a light clean is helpful. If you're a close family member, with permission from the family, you can even make a little schedule of who can come over to help with small tasks during the week. This will help make the new parents feel supported and less stressed.