I’m about to break down the new baby rules for you and most of you aren’t going to like it but here goes. When a baby is born, the most important person in the room is… the mama. That’s right. The mother. And what mama wants should be what mama gets.
- Before the new baby arrives, ask the mama what she wants in terms of visitors, privacy, advice, food and help. Don’t assume she wants you to spend the night. Sometimes visitors get in the way of good bonding, so ask before you assume.
- Let the new family adjust to each other for at least a week. Unless you are specifically invited to come over, don’t just pop over for a visit. New babies need time to get used to being out of the womb. Everything is too loud and too intense. Perfume is too much. They’re hungry and cold and feel weird. They don’t want you to hold them. They only want their mom. They know their mom. They were inside mom for most of a year. They know her heartbeat and her voice. They can’t see her yet. Give mom and baby a week to unfurl and to relax into each other. If you must visit, just drop food at the door and don’t come in. If you must come in, don’t ask to hold the baby.
- Don’t ask mama to hold her newborn. Yes. Yes. I know you came to visit a baby, but you can look without touching. If mom offers baby to you, then SCORE! Wash your hands, drape a blanket over your outside clothing and hold that precious baby. But if mom did not offer? Or if mom is having problems latching or if mom is just staring at her little baby in the bassinet? Don’t touch.
- Acknowledge that you are germy. YOU. You’re carrying some nasty worms and parasites and whatnot. Seriously, even if you think you’re 100% perfectly fine, your coworkers aren’t and that bus you just took was dirty and the valet who parked your car? He didn’t wash his hands after wiping his ass after taking a dump at lunch. He left fecal material on your car door and steering wheel. Then you touched the steering wheel and came inside and refused to wash your hands. And.. babies really don’t need your germs. Not yet. If you’ve ever seen an infant in the NICU, in a hard plastic, sterile enclosure, struggling to breath oxygen, you would understand why it is absolutely imperative that this new baby not be exposed to your heebie jeebies. Now. Once they get a little older? All bets are off. But under three months? They don’t need your personal herpes (no kisses please if you are shedding!) or hepatitis (don’t bite the baby please) or “a little taste of” your pneumonia.
- Bring mom a glass of water. If you got inside the house, you must be a good person. Continue that forward momentum by understanding that nursing is hard work. Bring water and ice cream and mother’s milk tea. Take a swing through the La Leche League breastfeeding site so you can show some solidarity and learn something too.
- If baby is formula fed, don’t assume that mom is no longer needed and tell her to get out and go see a movie. Mom still needs to feed her own baby and cuddle her own baby and bond with her own baby. Please, pretty please, don’t snatch a baby out of her hands because you want to feed it.
- Bring something. Wipes. A onesie for the next size up. A board book. Clorox wipes. Germ X. Toilet tissue and Paper Towels (for the guests.) Or bring something to eat that has lot of calories and a side salad.
- Stay out the fridge. Most mamas prepare food in advance for the time when they are resting and recovering. Don’t open the fridge and ask for tomorrow night’s dinner. And wash your hands before touching anyone’s fridge please.
- Order food from mama’s favorite restaurant. Have it delivered. With wine.
- Ask Dad/Partner how he is doing. Do it in private though. Make sure he/she is ok. And ask him how mama is doing. Post partum depression is real and only a good friend or doctor will care enough to notice and to act.
- Newborns are easier while older babies are more challenging. Do you want to really be helpful? Offer to babysit when that kid turns six months or eight months or one year old. Give the parents a date night or a birthday dinner night. You can get all day and all night and maybe even a whole weekend of feeding and holding and changing that baby under your belt if you wait just a teeny little bit.
What tips did I miss? Lemme know your “rules” for the days after you get home from the hospital.