I have two children and pregnant with my third, so I feel pretty well seasoned on the DOs and DON’Ts of visiting newborns. Since I was pregnant with my first, I have been very adamant about people respecting my privacy, until I make it public. I didn’t want anyone visiting us in the hospital until I was ready or anyone sharing information or pictures until I gave the green light. So, here is my list of DOs and DON’Ts for visiting a newborn in the hospital or at home.
DO call before you visit. One of the things I worried about most was someone showing up to the hospital when I wasn’t ready for visitors! My first child has a limb-difference, so when he was born I wanted it to just be me, him, and the few family members I had there. I didn’t know if it was going to be a very emotional time or not, so I wanted to be around those who I could feel comfortable with. And with all of my babies, I breastfed so I didn’t want 30 people all up in my boobs with a newborn that had no idea what they were doing. Also, I just didn’t want to share my baby with anyone and I didn’t feel like having to tell people no, which I had to do anyways because some family members just don’t know their place and need to be put in it.
DON’T take or share pictures of the newborn without the parents permission. DO NOT. I REPEAT DO NOT TAKE OR SHARE PICTURES OF THE NEW LITTLE HUMAN WITHOUT THE PARENTS PERMISSION. I, personally, like to be the first one to announce the new member of our family. I grew and birthed him/her, it’s my right to be the first to share anything about him/her. If you don’t feel this way, awesome. If you do feel this way, put your foot down. When I had my second child everyone knew not to post anything without my permission or they would be dismissed and not allowed to hold my baby at all. A little dramatic? Maybe. But I’m doing the same thing this time.
DO bring a snack or even a whole meal. A new parent does not want to cook. They’re exhausted and probably haven’t taken a shower in days because they’ve been up every hour of the day and night with a new baby that is either eating or pooping literally every hour. You taking a little bit of time and making them something or ordering food for them is like the biggest thing ever. But be mindful of things that could upset a newborn baby’s tummy if the mother is breastfeeding.
DON’T wear perfume or smoke cigarettes before visiting. Seriously. This should be common sense. Babies could be very sensitive to the smells of both perfume and cigarettes. Plus, cigarettes leave behind the toxins on your clothes and skin and you could pass that to baby. That cigarette or perfume is not worth the health of a baby.
DO offer to help mom out in whatever way she needs. I needed this. I had all the help I needed when I had my first, but with my second I hardly had any help. When you visit mom ask her if you can wash her laundry, straighten up the living room, load the dishwasher, or watch the baby so she can get a shower or even take a nap. I’m sure all parents understand this one, but non-parents, this matters a lot. Parents with a new baby NEED you to offer your help.
DON’T offer advice unless asked for. New parents are tired and are learning right along with their new baby. The last thing they want to hear is your unsolicited advice. If a new parent doesn’t ask you for advice on breastfeeding or how to get the baby to stop crying, don’t give them the advice. The only time you should give unsolicited advice is if you see the baby in serious danger.
DO wash hands before touching baby. You might not be sick, but you could’ve touched an area that has someone’s flu germs. The best way to avoid passing on germs and sickness to a newborn baby is washing your hands. It will make mom very happy with not having to remind you to wash your hands.
DON’T act weird when the mother starts to feed her baby. Mom shaming should not start from the beginning. If you’re visiting a new baby and mom just whips out her boob or puts on a cover to feed her baby, don’t freak out or jump up and leave. If she’s comfortable enough to breastfeed in front of you, then you need to be respectful and act like she’s not doing anything out of the norm. If mom asks you to leave the room, politely ask if you can get her anything while you excuse yourself. And if mom whips out that can of formula, put a smile on your face and ask if you can do anything to help. Feeding a newborn is hard. Moms don’t need anyone making it harder. Be the support she needs, no matter how she has decided to feed her baby.