5 Things NOT to Do When Someone You Love Has A Baby
There is something so special and exciting about a new baby’s arrival. You can’t wait to celebrate the baby and the new mom properly! It’s important, however, to be aware that you might have different ideas of what that means! You don’t want to be the visitor that doesn’t get invited back a second time. Follow my 5 tips below to ensure you are being respectful of her boundaries and truly helping the new mom feel loved!
Don’t show up without asking first.
It’s wonderful if you have a gift or meal to drop off, but just because it’s a convenient time for you, doesn’t mean it’s a great time for the new mom. It’s possible she was up all night with the baby or is too tired to socialize. Shoot her a text and say something like, “Hey! I’d love to bring you a meal and drop off a gift. Is there a day/time that works best for you? Would it be easier if I just left it on the porch?” She will appreciate you thinking of her needs and will be more likely to be honest about what she wants when you initiate in that way.
Don’t stay too long.
Meet the baby, compliment the mom, offer to help if she wants it—and be on your way. It is better to under-stay than over-stay your welcome when visiting parents of a newborn. I often hear clients say, “I feel guilty when people want to visit, but I don’t want them to! I’m so tired and have no energy for small talk.” While I encourage new moms to be honest with what they need, it can go a long way when someone saves them the burden of awkwardly asking them to leave by doing it themselves.
Don’t post pictures.
That means anywhere on social media or share them with others before asking first. If it’s not your child, it’s not your news. Don’t be the person who posts pictures without consent.
Don’t assume you know what they (she) needs.
Please respect the parent’s wishes–especially the mom’s. If the parents have shared that they don’t want visitors at the hospital, respect that and keep your distance without taking offense. Let them tell you what they want and what will be helpful. Don’t forge ahead with what you think is best.
My husband and I felt overwhelmed when we brought our oldest daughter home. It was hard enough trying to adjust to becoming a family of 3 (with a very colicky newborn), without the added burden of managing other people’s expectations. We often burned ourselves out and caused more anxiety for ourselves by trying to meet everyone else’s needs before our own. Thankfully, 2 years later, we had done a lot of reflection and preparation around what would be helpful for us before our identical twins arrived!
While there were still things that we couldn’t anticipate, we were much more proactive in communicating our needs and making them a priority. It’s funny now to think that, overall, we had a smoother transition when our family went from 3 to 5 than 2 to 3. All that to say, when in doubt… ask!
Don’t give unsolicited advice.
Dote on the baby and let the mom know she is doing a great job! Don’t tell her about your experiences unless she asks. Don’t ask her when she’s going to have another kid. Don’t ask her how she plans to lose the baby weight. If she doesn’t give you every detail of her birth story or seems hesitant to speak freely on a subject, take her cues and respond accordingly. Everyone is different and some birth stories are traumatizing—she could still be processing everything she went through. She’ll tell you what she wants to share when she’s ready. Now is the time to offer encouragement and support. Ask her how she is feeling and what is important to her right now. It’s likely her motherhood journey will look different for her than it did for you and that’s okay!
This is not about you. This is about her.
If you want to go above and beyond, you can offer (not demand or insist) to take her other kids for a few hours, go to the grocery store/run errands, pay someone to clean her house, or offer to watch the new baby (or babies!) while she sleeps or spends some time alone. One of our friends left a surprise bag of treats at our front door, with a note indicating times they were available to watch our oldest if it would be helpful; I was blown away!
Please be intentional about only offering these things if you truly mean them and don’t be offended if she says “no thanks.” It is not necessarily a reflection of your relationship, it just might not be helpful for her now for whatever reason.