By Hannah Schenker
You get the news and you’re squealing – your friend had a baby and you are more than ready to inhale some of that sweet newborn perfume! You’re about to hightail it over to her house, already imagining the yummy cuddles you are going to have. But believe it or not, there is a bit of etiquette involved, so hold up just for a minute. It’s easiest when mama tells you herself exactly what she needs or wants, setting her own boundaries. But not all of our friends are able or willing to do that, which is why you will have thought all this through beforehand. Before you head out the door, here are 10 simple tips to make sure it is a good visit for mama and baby too.
Don’t show up unannounced
You might be the best of friends and you might have talked a lot before baby was born about how you can’t wait to come and hold the baby. But don’t show up without an invite first. New parents have plenty of surprises to deal with on a daily basis, especially in those early weeks, but also need plenty of privacy to go about learning about their new baby and caring for them. Mama needs to be attending to her baby’s cues, establishing breastfeeding, getting plenty of skin-on-skin time and hopefully some naps too. So best thing is to send them a big congratulations however you feel is right – a card, a text, a call – and let them know you’re keen to visit when they are ready. You could quietly leave a ready-to-heat meal on their doorstep in those first few weeks, before they’re ready for visits. If you show up unannounced, mama could be in the middle of a meltdown, a difficult breastfeed, a poop explosion – and thanks to the sleepless nights could be at the end of her tether. Take the pressure off. Make an appointment.
Know when to stay away
As much as you are hankering for that baby snuggle time, be honest with yourself (and them) as to whether you really should go. Of course babies do not have strong immune systems yet, so any bugs you’ve got hanging around need to be taken seriously. Think you’re recovered from that cold or flu? Even if your symptoms have gone, you could still be carrying those bugs. So rearrange your visit for when you’re really feeling fighting fit.
Bring food she likes
Bringing food is kind of a no-brainer. She may have a fridge and cupboards absolutely laden with delicious pre-made meals already, but one more can’t hurt, provided she’s got a big enough freezer! (You could be super awesome and organise a food delivery roster among your friends – every day, somebody delivers a dinner meal, for example.) Newborns are feeding around the clock, leaving little time for mama to prepare anything. Her partner may be around to do that, or may be working. Put in the effort to make something that you know she will love and that can be just easily re-heated (or pick something up on the way, if you’re no cook), and you’re winning. Better yet, bring a hot coffee with you, or make her a cup of tea as soon as you arrive. Bonus points if you bring lactation cookies.
What else does she need?
You could call ahead of your prearranged visit, and check if she needs anything from town. She may not have left the house in days and things may be running low. It could just be something simple like groceries – coffee and milk and toilet paper. Be willing to get whatever it is she needs.
Wash your hands
Some mamas will leave out hand sanitiser at the door for visitors, but if not, as soon as you arrive, wash your hands. Before touching bubs. Before the snuggles, before the kisses (kisses can be problematic too – on their lips, face, hands – they will bring whatever bugs or viruses you’re carrying straight into their mouth). Drop your bag, wave hello and head to the bathroom for a scrub down. Simple hygiene.
See next page for 5 more tips…