My cousin had a baby last week, and it has me thinking...what do new moms really want, and what do they need? I know that she had a baby shower and has the things she "needs" (you don't need as much as you think you do, new moms. I promise. That fancy diaper bag is cute and all but it will be covered in poop sooner than you think) and we all know too well that wants and needs are two very different things, especially right after you have a baby and really you just need sleep (a shower is either a want or a distant memory at that point). I was thinking too that my wants and needs changed drastically from my first baby to the upcoming baby, and I think by now I'm much better about making them crystal clear to visitors. So in that spirit I'm going to randomly stop by sometime in the next few days with some home-baked, easily freezable, no-prep required food (healthy muffins and nursing cookies) and stay for only a little while to ooh and ahh at her new little wonder, and then be available by phone if she needs me in the immediate future. The reason is this: I don't want to tell her ahead of time because I don't want her stressing about cleaning up or looking presentable...those things are nigh impossible for the first few months post-partum anyway. If the baby is sleeping, I don't want her waking the little darling up (I could do a whole other post about waking a sleeping baby and the idiots who always want you to do just that), and if she's not I won't stay long anyway. Nobody likes it when someone comes to stop by and stays all day, as it wears out the host's hospitality very quickly. I'm dropping off food because real home cooking is a want and not a need when you're at home with a new baby (food=need, home cooking=want). I'll let her know that if she needs anything, I can be there in 45 minutes. But here's what I really want to say: I know what it feels like, so don't put on a show for me. It is magical but it is hard AF and I get it.
Here are some quick pointers for new mom visiting. I realize that the norms may be different in different families or different parts of the country, but here's what I could come up with from my own experience.
- home-cooked food, as mentioned above.
- little gift for mom. Something she'll use, like a coffee shop gift card or Netflix code or nursing scarf. Something mama doesn't have to share (it's all for her). Little luxuries like this are precious! Cozy blankets are great for this.
- the promise of future baby-sitting
- someone to listen.
- food of some kind. don't come over without food or coffee. You shouldn't do that to anyone, new mom or not.
- to attend to her newborn, and not necessarily you. If the baby starts crying, that is your cue to HELP or LEAVE.
- an assurance that EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE in the long run, and that she is doing great.
might be nice:
- someone to hold the baby for 10 minutes while the new mama takes time to...(take a shower, walk the dog, nap, play games on my phone, whatever)
- maybe pick up a few groceries
- take other children out, if there are other children
absolutely do not do this:
- plan an overnight visit (or an all-day one at that) if you do not plan to help the new parents.
- nitpick over preferences, especially parenting-related ones. Everyone does things differently and now is not the time to bring up anything not safety-related. I promise you that the new mama will remember this always, and not fondly.
- HERE IS a useful guide of things NOT to say to a new mom, from Pregnant Chicken
- bring your own drama. You're a grown up, you should know better.
Can anyone think of things to add? Seasoned mamas, what is your take on this topic?
PS Ill be bulk-baking my nursing cookie recipe soon and posting the results, so stay tuned!