So we all know by now that I’m not a huge fan of a revolving door of guests the first few days (or weeks) of baby’s life. I think giving the new family space to adjust, heal and bond is important. That said, with a new baby, they probably also need a lot of help. There is a fine balance of going to visit because you want to see them/meet baby, or going to see them because you want to help make the transition easier for them. Make sure to always ask before you show up, and be helpful.
So how do you know if you’re the guest they’re praying would leave or the one they’re praying will come? Read the room, obviously. And help them out. Here are a few of the most helpful things friends and family did for us in the first few days that I am eternally grateful for.
1. Bring food. I was always starving when nursing and wasn’t really on my Martha Stewart game quite yet, so when people brought or sent food I was seriously grateful. (Keep in mind if mom is nursing when choosing food; if so avoid spicy, acidic, etc) Bonus points for a little basket of nursing snacks, I kept a basket of easy snacks next to my glider so that I could grab a bite anytime.
2. Clean up. I know it’s weird and not the most natural thing to offer to clean up your friend’s place, and while usually a thinly cloaked insult- in this case it’s actually really sweet. Bending is hard, time is non existent and let’s be honest, she’s got better things to do. If you’ve got more money than time (or a nice group gift instead of expensive baby clothes that won’t fit in 3 months) hire a cleaning service for a few hours to come make Momma’s new normal a little bit sparklier (at least for a minute!).
3. Take pics of the new family (candid iPhone is totally sufficient) or offer to get some printed. Sometimes we forget to capture the special everyday moments. And it took me longer than I’m willing to admit to get my shit together and go get pictures of JJ printed…
4. Get them out of the house. My mom forced me to leave the house the first time and I was petrified. The car seat was overwhelming, where would I nurse, what if I forgot something, what if he was fussy, the list of concerns and excuses goes on. Regardless of how much I begged her to give me one more day of being Rapunzel, I will be forever grateful that my mom made me rejoin the real world. Sometimes us new mommas just need a little loving push (and a chaperone).
5. Offer to hold baby. Not just to coo and smell, but so that momma can regain the use of both arms momentarily! Lots of people wanted to come see JJ, or hold him for a photo, but the few special souls who offered to hold him so that I could shower or eat will forever have a special place in my heart.
6. Call or text when you’re out. “I’m at CVS, need anything?” “Heading to the grocery store, can I pick up anything for you?” “Grabbing a smoothie/coffee, want one?” It feels easier to say yes when you know they’re already at the store, so keep them in mind next time you’re out running errands.
7. Be an extra set of hands. I’m going to be honest, the best way to explain bath time is like having sex for the first time. It’s scary and awkward at first then soon becomes easy and loving. So while I don’t suggest offering to lend a hand for the sex part, it could be nice to offer support for bath time.
8. If they have other children or pets, offer to take them for a walk/outing/movie/whatever. Just give the parents one less life to worry about for an hour or so.
9. Talk to them! Sometimes as a new mom you just want to hear what’s happening in the real world. Politics, gossip, the fucking weather. Talk to me about anything but how much my baby poops and how my nipples are doing, please! Remember they’re still the same person with the same interests.
10. Keep us company. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone sit and chat with you while you nurse, or come for a stroll with you and baby. New mommyhood is lonely, k.
It’s hard to accept help, I get that. So instead of trying to tell new parents one more thing they need to do/think about, I task their community of friends and family to offer specific help and think about what the new family needs rather than what you want. If you come visit, come to help and fill a need of theirs, not just your own.
And for the new parents- be proactive here! Before you deliver, choose a few people that you know you will want around and ask them to do very specific things to help once Tiny is born. Takes the guesswork out of it for everyone!