Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Updated December 2015
Photo: Sally by Mick Watson
In the early days and weeks following the birth of a new baby many new parents find they prefer to be left in peace to spend time together recovering from the birth, learning to breastfeed, getting some rest in between caring for and getting to know their new addition. They do not want to worry about entertaining visitors because they will be too tired and it is unlikely they will have had time to clean up the house.
Friends or relatives may offer to help out when you have a new baby. While an extra pair of hands can be welcome, some visitors may bring advice and comments that are not at all helpful.
If you are a new mother you deserve to be waited upon by any guests. That is simply how it should be and you shouldn’t feel you need to adopt the role of hostess for some time yet. One way to reinforce the message that you are not ready to entertain is to keep your robe on. Don’t be afraid to be specific about the kinds of help you would appreciate. Ask people to throw a load of laundry in the washing machine, make a pot of tea/coffee or fetch something from the grocery store on their way to your house.
By taking care of yourself in the early days and not trying to be super woman you will find you have more strength in the months ahead.
You may find it useful to give the following list to friends and family. It is for anyone to look at and think about if they are dropping in as a visitor to see the new arrival.
When visiting a new mother
- Expect her, or any member of her family, to entertain you.
- Give advice when she complains about being tired or about how difficult everything is.
- Ask whether her baby is getting enough milk or whether he is sleeping through the night yet. These questions can undermine her confidence.
- Cause her stress by offering to take her baby out. She might be grateful for the same offer at some point but a new mom will want to be with her baby.
- Create more work by bringing huge bags of unwanted baby clothes. A small bag of baby clothes of the right size is more manageable for a mother to sort through than a large unsorted one, particularly if you take away what she doesn’t want rather than leaving unwanted clutter.
- Forget that the mother needs help for some months (years!), not just the first few weeks.
- Forget to keep on offering your support.
- Bring food when you visit (meals and snacks that need little or no additional preparation).
- Bring her something healthy to drink.
- Make a meal and serve it to her, or leave a packed lunch ready.
- Do the grocery shopping for her.
- Clean up the kitchen, wash the dishes, vacuum, tidy up.
- Do laundry, fold the clothes, and put them away.
- Give her a back rub or a foot massage while she nurses her baby.
- Change the baby’s diaper.
- Look after the baby while she takes a bath or shower, or a short walk.
- Accompany her when she has to go somewhere to offer an extra pair of hands.
- Offer to take her to an LLL meeting or give her the local Leader’s contact details.
- Listen to her worries.
- Send her links to Breastfeeding Today.
- Comfort her.
- Let her know what a good job she’s doing caring for her baby!