Make yourself useful
This is no time to wait to be asked for a cuppa – you get in that kitchen and make one for everyone. Laundry, dishes, floors, taking out the rubbish – these are all easy things to spot and get on with. It’s usually a good idea to ask, because some people really can’t handle other people helping them out, or their extreme politeness may not let them allow it. If it feels weird to ask, put it another way – “I’d really love to do these dishes for you so that you can carry on breastfeeding, is that cool?” How can they refuse? If you just ask, “Can I do anything to help?” they are more likely to say no, because they don’t want to put you out.
Ask before you take any pictures
Worth mentioning. You might have fallen head over heels in love with this tiny human already and are ready to snap away on your phone. But ask mama first. She might not any photos taken yet. She might not want to be in the photo (or she might). She may be happy for you to take pictures, but not happy for them to be shared on Facebook. Ask. Respect.
Don’t overstay your welcome
Some of our friends are great with setting boundaries, with saying where they’re at. Others are not. It’s a good idea to stay for shorter periods in the beginning, and then let the visits lengthen for later weeks and months. But take your cues from your mama friend! If she wants to sleep, pump, even breastfeed – if she’s not comfortable doing it in front of you – these are all good signals that it’s time to go. Other times, she may be craving the company and want you to stay longer. Just be looking out for those signals that it’s time to go. Rock up with some food, fold the laundry, bring her a coffee, have a quick cuddle and then you’re on your way.
Let mama offer baby to you
It’s tempting to ask to hold her baby. It really is. That’s really why you’ve come, isn’t it?! But let mama decide when that moment will be. She may have been passing her baby around countless people all day, and is feeling protective now. Baby may have just had a feed and needs to stay snoozing on mama’s chest. You can let her know that you’d love to hold her baby when she’s ready, but with no pressure that it even happens today. Admiring from afar is good too. Your cuddle time will come, don’t worry.
Focus on mama and baby, not you
Often when we hear someone else’s stories, we interject with our own. Your friend may be sharing her birth story with you, and you might get the urge to share your own experiences – which were easier/more difficult/traumatic. This isn’t about your story right now. Or, you might be super interested in the whole labour and birth, and she’s not ready to tell it yet. It’s all about mama and baby – allowing them to have their experience unfold, in full support. You can do this for her. Ask how she is doing. Offer her your emotional support. If dad is there too, he also needs that support.
What other things would you recommend, mamas, from your own experience? Leave a comment below…